Alfred P. Maurice WWII Envelopes

Alfred P. Maurice was born in New Hampshire in March 1921.  He began his art career as a Muralist for National Youth Administration while in junior high school and continued to find ways to make creating art a part of his work life. As his lifelong art career unfolded, he was an Instructor and Administrator of the various Art Programs at  Michigan State, Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, State University of New York at New Paltz, New York and the University of Illinois, Chicago.

During World War II, Mr. Maurice served between 1944 and 1946. To pass the time he drew on most any available paper and soon was known for his abilities. One of his jobs in the Army Air Force was to illustrate technical manuals. He would often sell drawings to his fellow servicemen to make a little extra money to send home. Early on, Mr. Maurice created a cartoon character, Herman (pronounced, Hoy-man), who became is alter ego in his playful illustrations of life in the military.

This exhibit is a sub-set of the Alfred P Maurice WWII Drawings Collection. It consists of drawings on envelopes sent to his fiancée, Dolores Robson, near the end of his service in the Armed Forces of World War II. Herman’s adventures documented on the envelopes fall into four categories titled: Camp Life, Inspections and Keeping Busy, Capturing Iwo Jima, and All I Want is to Go Home! In an interview while reviewing each envelope drawing, Mr. Maurice added explanations the descriptions of each.

Letters written to his wife (then fiancée) during his time in service from 1944-1946 are available in Digital Commons @ WOU. Some of the letters have additional information about the images the collection of drawings in this exhibit. 

 

 

Scanning and text by Kalea Borling, WOU Archives Student. Text edited by Hannah Hardcastle, WOU Student Employee.

During World War II, Mr. Maurice would often draw illustrations about his own experiences and thoughts during these long months. These envelopes depict everyday life at the camp.

This set depicts life in the Army Camp and various activities that kept Herman, (Mr. Maurice's alter ego), busy while stationed for services in Manilla, Philippine Islands.

Because Maurice and the other soldiers were not needed in combat, the officers came up with creative ways to keep the soldiers in line by assigning general busy work and performing additional inspections. Left to himself, Herman would be up to mischief or finding new and interesting ways to entertain himself and others.  

Five envelopes stand out as having a single theme depict the capture of Iwo Jima, a turning point for the Allies of World War II.

The first drawing shows the island with a Japanese flag flying over it.

The second shows fire and smoke clouds rising from the island.

The third shows the 'Real Armada,' as Mr. Maurice described it, with a multitude of bombers flying over the smoke filled island.

The fourth shows the Naval Armada bringing troops and the smoke is clearing.

 Last is the island is cleared of smoke and an American flag now flying over it as a bomber is flying away.

In interviews, Mr. Maurice often spoke about how much he wanted the war to end so that he could return to a normal life. Being away from his beloved fiancée, Dolores, in addition to the tropical heat and daily grind of army routine all compounded his impatience to leave the Philippines. He was happy to hear the news that the war finally ended in September 1945 only to find there was a 'shipping shortage' which delayed shipping the soldiers back home. In his illustrations Herman demonstrates that frustration and impatience to return to the States after the war had ended.  

Original Omeka ID: /collections/show/15