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Mauldin file photo [858]

Bill Mauldin

Given NameBill
Born29 Oct 1921
Died22 Jan 2003
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseBill Mauldin isn't famous for any heroic exploits during World War II. Rather, he created the cartoon characters Willie and Joe, two battle-hardened, sardonic dogfaces for the 45th Division News.

ww2dbaseMauldin just wasn't a journalist along for the ride. He joined the Army in 1940 and participated in the invasions of Sicily and Italy with the 45th Division before going to work full-time with Stars and Stripes. His work was eventually syndicated by the United Feature Syndicate and Willie and Joe reached millions of Americans.

ww2dbaseHe published the book Up Front in 1945 using his cartoons and accompanying text to illustrate the conditions of American fighting men in the ETO. He wrote:

"I drew pictures for and about the soldiers because I knew what their life was like and understood their gripes. I wanted to make something out of the humorous situations which come up even when you don't think life could be any more miserable."

ww2dbaseMauldin's cartoons even reached the desks of the Army's top brass, including George Patton, who thought Willie and Joe undermined discipline in the ranks. Patton even threatened to ban the newspaper from soldiers under his command. The two eventually met at the urging of General Eisenhower, though Mauldin remained committed to showing the life of a solider, gripes and all.

ww2dbaseMauldin won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1945. Rather than singling out one cartoon as the winner, the Pulitzer Committee noted the following:

"For distinguished service as a cartoonist, as exemplified by the cartoon entitled, "Fresh, spirited American troops, flushed with victory, are bringing in thousands of hungry, ragged, battle-weary prisoners, in the series entitled, Up Front With Mauldin."

ww2dbaseThe cartoon, however, shows American troops as demoralized and battle weary as the prisoners they guard, noting the ironic difference between hopeful news copy and reality.

ww2dbaseAfter the war, Mauldin introduced Willie and Joe back into American life in the newspapers and later in the book Back Home (1949). He won a second Pulitzer Prize in 1959 and continued addressing pressing issues of the day in American culture and beyond. He died in 2003.

ww2dbaseStars and Stripes maintains an archive of Mauldin’s work here.

ww2dbaseSources: 45th Infantry Division Museum Website, the Pulitzer Prizes, Spartacus Educational.

Last Major Revision: Feb 2005

Bill Mauldin Interactive Map

Bill Mauldin Timeline

29 Oct 1921 Bill Mauldin was born.
22 Jan 2003 Bill Mauldin passed away.


Stars and Stripes correspondent and cartoonist Bill Mauldin at the wheel of his assigned Jeep accompanied by fellow illustrator Gregor Duncan, Naples, Italy, Mar 1944

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More on Bill Mauldin
Event(s) Participated:
» Invasion of Sicily and Italy's Surrender
» Battle of Anzio

Bill Mauldin Photo Gallery
Stars and Stripes correspondent and cartoonist Bill Mauldin at the wheel of his assigned Jeep accompanied by fellow illustrator Gregor Duncan, Naples, Italy, Mar 1944

Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945

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