Dian Hanson’s “My Buddy” Offers A Stripped Down Look At WW ll Troops

Boys will be boys. And so will soldiers? Whether they’re in the comfort of their own home or overseas on foreign land serving in a World War – men will love on one another. Figuratively or literally speaking. Dian Hanson’s “My Buddy: World War ll Laid Bare” takes a closer look at the extremely close relationships of soldiers during this time.

The Taschen collectors book features rare images from Michael Stokes – revealing troops in this all male environment, where frolicking with your buddies completely nude was a natural part of everyday (war) life.

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While the extremely macho mindset was heavily adopted by men during these times (what some people today refer to as toxic masculinity) and homosexuality was actually illegal and could get you dishonorably discharged – troops took no issue with frolicking with each other completely naked. Showering and shaving together – naked. Going for a swim together to cool off – naked. Playing sports together to burn off some of that macho energy – naked. Just a lot of nakedness.

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The troops at these times bonded with one another to these extremes, in order to be able to trust one another implicitly. While most of these accounts detail the “my buddy” experience as innocent – there was a lot of discreet male on male behavior that tip-toed over the line of platonic friendship.

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Paul Jackson’s book “One of the Boys” – examines the struggles homosexual men and women had to face during World War ll. Those that were living a discreet life and those bold enough to not hide who they really were.

An investigation in New Caledonia in 1943 (the largest base in the South Pacific that housed over 40,000 troops during World War ll), exposed the not so discreet behavior between heterosexual and effeminate men. Cruising for sex at parks and lemonade stands, sparking romantic and sexual male on male relationships and inappropriate sex acts in public. The indiscreet behavior led to many soldiers being forced to resign.

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But My Buddy does an exceptional job at capturing male troops bonding in the buff – a side of the war that wasn’t really made public. It offers a hawk eyed look at these servicemen in their natural state and trying to steal moments of joy during arduous times.

All images are sourced from the Michael Stokes Collection.

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