This film is part of Free

America’s New Army

A grinning effigy of Hitler is skewered by the bayonet of a new recruit: one striking image among many from this morale-boosting account of the American army in 1942.

1942 17 mins


‘Time is Short’, reads a sign upon the wall in Washington’s War Department, from where US Army Chief of Staff George Marshall is seen directing the American war machine. Emphasising the urgency of the task, and ending with the stirring words of General Douglas MacArthur, this issue asserts the team spirit of the ‘citizen army’ as well as showing how much progress has been made in in a short time: from wooden machine guns, to gleaming rows of the real thing - the USA is ready for war.

The emphasis on the strengths of America’s ‘citizen army’ is captured in the film’s most effective sequence, a simple series of close-ups featuring soldiers stating their name, their home-town and their rank and role. The power derives from the range of homely accents and ordinary faces, underlining the film’s message that this is more than a fighting force: it is an expression of democracy. As in other March of Time films from this period, such as ‘America Prepares’, the training footage shows soldiers wearing the old-fashioned ‘doughboy’ helmet. The more familiar M1, which we only see here on display in the quartermaster’s stores alongside other new equipment, is a sign of things to come.