Never before (and certainly never since) had America been so united. There were draft dodgers and war profiteers to be sure, but the overwhelming mass of our 132,000,000 people sent their sons and daughters off proudly, worked long hours, did without, gave blood, collected fat and scrap metal, bought bonds, and backed our government and our armed forces to the hilt. World War II dominated every phase of American life, and it dominated the pages of Field & Stream. You could no longer buy sporting goods of any type. Everything anyone made was dedicated, one way or another, to killing Japanese or Germans. Many of these ads are corny by today’s standards; they were created in a far more innocent time. But some are not. You can’t help but wonder if the kid in ad #3 would see his room again, because a great many did not, or if the downed flyer in ad #25 would be picked up and saved, because a great many were not. These advertisements are reminders of what was sacrificed, which was beyond calculation, and a reminder that some of our country’s darkest days were also, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “our finest hours.”
On the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we remember the sacrifices made by so many servicemen and their families. These vintage ads ran in the pages of F&S from 1941 to 1945. For more vintage ads, see our galleries of old-school
fishing gear, guns and knives.