Flashback to the American Legion Memorial Museum

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Before the Virginia War Museum became Newport News city property the collection began its life in 1923 as the American Legion Memorial Museum. With a collection that focuses on personal artifacts from every era of American history the War Museum has a lot to offer! Today they are located next to Huntington Park and are open each day, 9-5, except Sundays when they open at 12. Go pay them a visit and see their impressive collection of war propaganda posters.

We were delighted to find a staged PR-shoot set in the old American Legion Memorial Museum in the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation Collection housed in The Mariners’ Museum archives. As was common of many World War II PR efforts, a pair of photogenic WACs were drafted to model the collection. Through the eyes of Pvt. Doris Gregory and Cpl. Mary Braswell these photos allow us to explore some pieces from the War Museum’s collection as it existed in the 1940s. Of particular interest were a few relics from the current war in Europe and the Pacific.

All of these photos are from April 1945.

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U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation Collection

In this image Pvt. Gregory and Cpl. Braswell hold up pieces of a uniform surrendered by a captured Japanese soldier from the Guadalcanal Campaign.

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U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation Collection

Here Cpl. Braswell and Pvt. Gregory inspect the silk cordage of a German parachute. The caption grimly notes that the parachute failed open for its pilot.

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U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation Collection

Standing in a gallery that gives some sense of the old museum’s displays, Pvt. Gregory and Cpl. Braswell look up at a Japanese flag battle worn from the Guadalcanal Campaign.

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U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation Collection

Cpl. Braswell reaches up to touch a coat of arms that, according to the photo’s caption, was blown off an Italian post office by an explosion during a heated battle. Pvt. Gregory is shown looking at a collection of German helmets from World War I.

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U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation Collection

Pvt. Gregory and Cpl. Braswell stand among a collection of WWI-era airplane engines and propellers.

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