Thursday, December 07, 2006

Barclay’s War

Sixty-five years ago today, the Japanese Navy attacked the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor and America joined the fight against the Axis powers. Here’s one story about American advertising at war.

McClelland Barclay, born in 1891, was one of the foremost commercial artists of his time when the war began. He’d created great illustrations– usually with gorgeous women – for General Motors and Texaco, General Electric and Camel cigarettes. He’d done magazine covers and movie posters.

Barclay, a US Naval Reserve officer, reported for active duty on 19 October 1940. He was 49 years old. He created some of the great recruiting posters of World War II. When the US entered the war in 1941, he volunteered to become a combat artist. “Man the Guns” comes from this period.

On 18 July 1943, Barclay was aboard LST-342 (Group 14, Flotilla 5) when it was torpedoed by Japanese submarine Ro-106 at 1:30 a.m. He had been on board since the first of the month, sketching and taking photographs, during which time LST-342 had been carrying ammunition and supplies to Rendova, New Georgia in the Solomon Islands from Guadalcanal.

The torpedo struck the aft portion of the ship where officers and others, including Barclay, were berthed. The stern sank immediately. Barclay, along with most of the crew, perished. The bow of the LST remained afloat and was towed to a beach on the island of Ghavutu so that any useable equipment could be salvaged. Remains of the ship are still rusting there today. Barclay was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, and entitled to the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal; the American Area Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
(US Naval Historical Center)

You can read all about him here. Pass the word.

“Man the Guns - Join the Navy” by McClelland Barclay, Oil Painting (above) and Poster (below), 1942. From US Naval Historical Center.

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