The 8 most famous US military recruiting posters of World War II

On May 8, 1945, the Allies accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender, putting an end to six years of war in Europe.

Known as V-E Day, or Victory in Europe, the date was celebrated throughout the world. (V-J Day wouldn’t come until Sep. 2)

Now 70 years later, we still remember and celebrate the incredible bravery, sacrifice, and resolve of the Allied forces. But we should also remember what persuaded many of those soldiers to enlist in the first place: recruiting posters.

Posters were ubiquitous during the era, whether they were asking men and women to join the Army, buy war bonds, or to be careful about talking about troop movements. We rounded up some of the most famous recruiting posters here.

1. Perhaps the most famous poster ever was of “Uncle Sam” and while it was used extensively during World War II, it actually first came out in 1917.

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2. But Sam showed up in World War II-specific recruiting efforts as well, like this one below from 1944. And the original can still often be seen at modern recruitment offices.

ca. 1944 --- Recruitment Poster by Tom Woodburn --- Image by © K.J. Historical/CORBIS

3. In the wake of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, many answered the call to “Avenge Pearl Harbor.”

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4. While the era’s posters were not very politically correct, they were effective. It’s worth noting however, that many soldiers were drafted.

world-war-ii-recruitment-poster-smack-japs-submarine

5. This poster recruited men to join the “Flying Leathernecks.”
world-war-ii-recruitment-poster-marines-smack-em-down

6. While this one pushed for Navy enlistments. The war in the Pacific during World War II was the largest naval conflict in history, according to CombinedFleet.com.

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7. This popular poster of a U.S. Marine “ready” from 1942 was so iconic, an updated version of a Marine with the tagline of “still ready” was made in the Post-9/11 era.

"Ready Join U.S. Marines," Gary Borkan poster, as part of Lifelines story on recruitment posters. Photo by Gary Borkan

8. And for those on the home front, “Rosie the Riveter” became well-known for motivating women to take over factory jobs men had left behind to fight in the war.

A World War II color poster encourages American women to show their strength and go to work for the war effort.

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