Original U.S. WWII War Manpower Commission Propaganda Poster - Work Where You’re Needed - 26” x 18 ½”

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The U.S. government commissioned posters such as this "Miles of Hell to Tokyo" image to guard against complacency, the Government promoted messages that reminded civilian America of the suffering and sacrifices that were being made by its Armed Forces overseas.

“The mortal realities of war must be impressed vividly on every citizen. There is a lighter side to the war picture, particularly among Americans, who are irrepressibly cheerful and optimistic. But war means death. It means suffering and sorrow. The men in the service are given no illusions as to the grimness of the business in which they are engaged. We owe it to them to rid ourselves of any false notions we may have about the nature of war.”

This totally original and unrestored 1945 poster shows an image of a torn, tattered and blood uniformed American soldier after what appears to have been a fierce battle. He is on his hands and knees, attempting to get up with his M1 rifle as a pile of empty shell casing lay around him.

The header features the following text:

to Tokyo!

This poster was produced during the later years of the war in the Pacific, as Americans and allied forces fought through harsh and cruel environments to defeat the enemy, the objective, reaching Tokyo.

The lower message states the following:


This immaculate 26” x 18 ½” poster comes ready to be displayed!

During World War II, labor mobilization under state directive reached a new high for Americans in response to the urgent need for military personnel and the soaring demand for greater war production on the home front. In this competition for scarce human resources, the government designed policies to address the multiple and conflicting manpower needs of the armed forces and the economy. These policies were guided by the twin goals of rapidly expanding military personnel and generating a sufficient civilian workforce with expertise necessary for war production on the home front. All of this occurred with an eye to maintaining a basic standard of living on the domestic front.

Research on wartime mobilization has focused on the implications of either military service or, to a much lesser degree, work-related activities on the home front. However, the two processes are interrelated. The overlapping manpower needs of industry, government agencies, and the armed forces were played out in the War Manpower Commission and the Selective Service System. The commission, incorporated into the Department of Labor in 1945, was responsible for planning and supervising the recruitment, training, and distribution of workers in the face of the essential domestic labor shortage. The Selective Service System was responsible for administering the draft and determining liability for military service through the coordination of Selective Service boards.

Both the War Manpower Commission and the Selective Service System used occupation, along with other considerations (e.g., age, family/dependency status, health), as a criterion for role assignment. Occupation-based skills varied in how they could be used by the armed forces and on the home front, and thus they were defined by war manpower policies in ways that could lead to different fields of service. Given the state’s disparate goals, the inevitable gaps between policy ideas and their implementation, and the informal processes of recruitment at the local level, the relevance of prewar occupation for wartime experiences has remained largely unknown.

The scope of mobilization left few households untouched by military service or by home front needs. Military recruitment clearly disrupted the ordinary flow of lives and community activities, as did the mobilization of workers into essential war industries, such as shipyards, aircraft factories, and munitions plants.

Whether through voluntary action, the military draft, or war-industry employment, mass mobilization pulled men and women out of conventional pursuits of all kinds.

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