Item #010245 1942-1955 – An archive of material related to the most famous and popular song created by American soldiers for American soldiers, the Dog Face Soldier . Bert Gold, Ken Hart.
1942-1955 – An archive of material related to the most famous and popular song created by American soldiers for American soldiers, the Dog Face Soldier
1942-1955 – An archive of material related to the most famous and popular song created by American soldiers for American soldiers, the Dog Face Soldier
1942-1955 – An archive of material related to the most famous and popular song created by American soldiers for American soldiers, the Dog Face Soldier

1942-1955 – An archive of material related to the most famous and popular song created by American soldiers for American soldiers, the Dog Face Soldier

Various: 1942-1955. Various. This archive consists of four items. All are in nice shape.

1) A post V-J Day letter from one of the song’s authors, Sgt. Bert Gold, to Lt. Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier in history. It is datelined “Hqs Co, 22nd Rep. Dep./ APO 714 – San Fran / Manila, P.I. 22 Sept” and sent to Lt. Audie Murphy at Farmersville, Texas. The envelope is franked with a six-cent airmail stamp (Scott #C25) that was canceled with a machine U.S. Army Postal Service postmark dated “Sep 22 / 1945”. When Gold penned this letter, he, along with all Americans, knew of Murphy’s battlefield heroics although they had never met. At the time Murphy had been recently discharged. The letter reads in part:

“You may have heard the enclosed song once or twice (!) which is a great honor I share with Ken Hart, formerly of the 1st Div. (I was with the 76th). [The “enclosed song” is not included in this lot.]

“Because of what it means to some of you Rocks of the Marne, its still commercially virgin, to be assigned to the 3rd Div. Assn. as they see fit.” [“Rock of the Marine” is the official sobriquet awarded to the 3rd Division for its heroic defense of the Marne River that turned the tide of World War I.]

2) This first printing of The Dog-face Soldier sheet music was published at least ten years before the song became a hit. Although all printings of the sheet music bear a 1942 copyright date, on this printing, there is no mention of Audie Murphy or his blockbuster autobiographical movie, To Hell and Back. There is, however, a small 3rd Division insignia indicating that it was published after Major General Lucien Truscott adopted the tune as his unit’s official song and march. As well, the main cover illustration shows the legendary, but unnamed, guitar-playing soldier and three comrades singing in the rubble of a destroyed building, which is exactly how the tune gained popularity. The title eventually sold over 300,000 copies. In the music’s liner notes, the Shawnee Press notes, “We are proud to honor, by publishing for the first time, this simple natural singing tune.” Includes both instrumental and four-part vocal music. The copyright info for the instrumental music has been excised; it is present on the vocal music.

3) A lobby card from the 1955 hit film To Hell and Back that features 3rd Division soldiers singing Dog Face Soldier along with a North African cabaret entertainer.

4) A “sample copy” of Russ Morgan’s 45 rpm recording of Dog Face Soldier that rode the film’s coattails onto Billboard charts during October and November of 1955.

Gold and Hart wrote The Dog-face Soldier in 1942 for the enjoyment of their soldier buddies shortly after they joined the Army as two privates from Long Island, New York. When they parted ways, one to become an officer in the Army Air Corps and the other to serve in the Pacific, they didn’t realize a guitar-playing comrade that had been assigned to the 3rd Division carried the tune to his new unit.

After the 3rd Division landed in North Africa, the song became popular among the unit’s soldiers, who sang it incessantly whether resting, working, or even while fighting. In time, the division’s regimental bands (there was no division band until much later in the war) began playing the tune as a march.

As the division fought its way across Sicily, its commander, General Truscott, took note of the tune’s popularity and declared Dogface Soldier to be the 3rd Division’s official song and march. Following the invasion of Europe, its popularity spread beyond the division, and by the time 3rd Division soldiers had smashed through Rhine River defenses, captured Augsburg and Nuremberg, and occupied Salzburg, American soldiers throughout Europe were singing the Dogface Soldier..

Although Hart and Gold’s original lyrics were organizationally generic, at the time the song was raging within the 3rd Division, the soldiers sang:

“I wouldn't give a bean to be a fancy pants marine; I'd rather be a Dogface Soldier like I am.

“I wouldn't trade my old O.D.'s for all the navy's dungarees for I'm the walking pride of Uncle Sam.

“On all the posters that I read it says the army builds men, so, they're tearing me down to build me over again.

“I'm just a Dogface Soldier with a rifle on my shoulder, and I eat a kraut for breakfast every day.

“So feed me ammunition; keep me in the 3rd Division. Your Dogface Soldier Boy's okay.”

The original 3rd Division lyrics have been continuously altered. During the Cold War, references to eating Krauts for breakfast were changed to eating ammunition; when used by other army organizations references to the 3rd Division were dropped, and although women had served in the division since the 1970s and sung about the army building men, that was changed around fifteen years ago. The song is still sung within today’s 3rd Infantry Division daily at formations and at ceremonies and social gatherings.

. Very good. Item #010245

When Gold penned his letter to Audie Murphy, he could never have imagined how popular and successful the “commercially virgin” song would become. When Murphy, the diminutive and handsome 20-year-old war hero who had lied about his age to enlist at 17, returned to Texas in the summer of 1945, he was featured in uniform on the cover of Life as America’s most decorated soldier. (He had been awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and Valor Device, Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters, French Legion of Honour, French Croix de Guerre with silver star, three French Croix de Guerre with palm, and a Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm.)

After reading the magazine, James Cagney invited the photogenic Murphy to Hollywood to try his hand at acting. Despite a slow start, Audie practiced his craft and became a star, eventually appearing in 44 credited feature films and B-movies including John Huston’s masterpiece, The Red Badge of Courage, that was mutilated by MGM editing. While in Hollywood, Audie wrote of his World War II experiences which became the bestselling To Hell and Back. Universal Studios bought the book’s film rights and cast a reluctant Murphy to appear as himself in what became a blockbuster hit.

Despite his success, Murphy suffered from PTSD (at the time known as Shell Shock or Battle Fatigue) and suffered from insomnia and occasional violent outbursts. It is said he placed a loaded pistol, a gift from Gary Cooper, under his pillow every night to help him sleep. He also became dependent upon a sleeping sedative, Placidyl. Finally recognizing the drug’s harm in the 1960s, Audie locked himself in a hotel room and ‘cold turkey’ broke his addiction. Subsequently, he successfully campaigned for the Veteran’s Administration to recognize and treat combat veterans who needed mental health support. After Audie died in a plane crash in 1971, the Veterans Administration built a new hospital in his honor at San Antonio.

(For more information, see Truscott’s Command Missions, the 19 November 1955 edition of Billboard, the Leckies’ and Kincaid’s comments about “United States Army Band and Chorus – Dog Face Soldier” at LP2CD.com, and “The Dog Face Soldier” at mybase.com.)

The Gold-Murphy letter is unique. This piece of sheet music may be the only extant example of the first printing as well. None are for sale in the trade; none are listed at Rare Book Hub or Worthpoint as ever appearing at any auction. No examples are held by institutions, and in over 40 years of collecting and selling Audie Murphy and 3rd Infantry Division material, this is the first example I have ever seen. 45 rpm records of Russ Morgan’s recording are often available on eBay, although “sample copies” for disk-jockey-play on the radio are uncommon. The lobby posters from the movie are scarce and sought after by collectors.

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Price: $750.00

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