World War II: Child Mascots--Country Trends

World War II mascots Tony Mao
Figure 1.--This Italian boy was adopted as a mascot by American soldiers. The press caption read, "Ten-yr-old Tony Mao, nascot of U.S. troops on the Italian front, is directed on a errand by Lt. Anderson Smoth of Barnnesville, Ga.. Tony lost his family in the bombing of Avaline, and since having been adopted by the Army, he is strictly, 'GI' both in convrsation and clothing." The photograph was dated January 5, 1944.Notice that Tony has a rifle. We are not sure he was given bullets for it.

There were several instances of World War II units adopting mascots. We know more about the U.S. Army that other army. It was most noted in Italy, probably the United States beginning wuth the invasion of Sicily (July 1943) was committed in Italy for nearly 2 years. There were regulations against this, but the link between the boys and the GIs were just too strong to break. Here we ee one of the Itlian mascots, 10-year old Tony Mao (figure 1). Another Italin mascot was Natale Kesic. American GIs spent quite a bit of time in Britain and were a real hit with the kids (especially the Bubble gum and candy) , but the chikdren were no abandoned children as wa the casein Italy. Unlike World War I, this did not occur in France. We are not sure just why. In World War I there wre much higher French casualties and the AEF spent about a year in France before being committed. American operations in France were primarily confined to to 3 months and few French children were separated from their parents and a French Government was quickly organized by DeGualle. There were also many examples of this among U.S. servicemen serving in the Paific. There was also some noted mascots adopted by the Germans, mostly children they believed to be ethnic Germans. One of the most famous World War II was a Jewish boy taken in by a Latvian working for the Germans. We note several examples of boys attaching thenselves to the Germans from the photographic record compiled by German soldiers. A few of these children were actually Jews. One example was a Latvian boy. The American soldiers took in local boys which some times were very different ethnically such as the boys in the Pcific.After the War there was a desire of many of the men if the children cold not be reunited with family to adopt them and bring them home. The Italian boy on the previous page a good example.


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Created: 2:49 PM 10/23/2015
Last updated: 2:49 PM 10/23/2015