A nearly-complete run of Southwest Pacific Newsmaps, 1944-1945, with particular emphasis on the recapture of the Philippines

SWPA NEWSMAP JAN.-JULY 1944 VOL. 1 [with:] SWPA NEWSMAP JULY.-DECEMBER. 1944 VOL.2 [with:] SWPA NEWSMAP JANUARY-APRIL 1945 VOL.3. [Sydney, Australia]: Information and Education Section, United States Army Forces in the Far East, 1944-1945.
3 vols. of edge-bound Southwest Pacific Newsmaps containing a total of 64 issues (Vol. 1 no. 1-16, 18-19, 21-22, 24-25; Vol. 2 no. 1-26 plus one Newsmap “extra”; and Vol. 3 no. 1-15. Each Newsmap printed front and back in colors and ca. 17 ¾”h x 23 ¾”w at sheet edge. The 2nd volume includes also 3 “Philippines Picture Postscripts”, printed on one side only. Each Newsmap separated by tissue guards. Bound in black buckram with titles stamped in gold on front board. Minor toning and a couple of long splits, the boards somewhat scuffed and bumped with some fraying to the spines. Very good overall.
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A nearly complete run of Southwest Pacific Newsmaps, documenting the war in the Southwest Pacific from January 1944 through April 1945. Highly informative, visually appealing, and very, very rare.

During the Second World War the United States War Department published hundreds of weekly Newsmaps, for distribution to military installations, domestic industry and political leaders. These generally featured maps and photographs of recent battles and campaigns, often but not always complemented by educational posters on the verso. The colorful graphics, striking graphic design, and generally upbeat messages must have made them effective tools for conveying both information and propaganda. These are encountered with some frequency on the market.

Offered here is something far more unusual and almost impossible to find, being a near-complete run of Southwest Pacific Newsmaps issued in Sydney, Australia, by the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). This command was first created in mid-1941 and consisted primarily of divisions of the Philippine Army with an admixture of American trainers and units, all under the command of Douglas MacArthur. As far as I can tell, the USAFFE ceased to exist after MacArthur’s evacuation to Australia and the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. It was reconstituted in Australia in February 1943, again under MacArthur’s command, with overall responsibility for execution of the campaign in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). The USAFFE was responsible for, among other things, the invasion and recapture of the Philippines in 1944-1945.

These USAFFE Newsmaps are broadly similar in format to those published stateside by the War Department. The front sides feature articles on recent and ongoing battles and campaigns, much enhanced by maps, photographs and illustrations. However, while the coverage does extend to all theaters of the war, half or more of each is dedicated to events in the Southwest Pacific. Of particular interest is the sustained treatment of the campaign to regain the Philippines, beginning with bombing raids in September 1944, climaxing with the invasion of Leyte on October 20, and continuing into April 1945, when Southwest Pacific Newsmaps ceased publication.

As with the War Department Newsmaps, the reverse sides of these USAFFE Newsmaps generally feature posters with educational content or propaganda messages. Indeed, many of these posters are copies of ones that had previously appeared on the War Department Newsmaps, even retaining the tiny “U.S. Government Printing Office” imprint in the lower-right margin. A few examples include “Teamwork”, an account of the inter-service coordination required to conduct amphibious landings; “Mobile Ordnance Speeds Victory”; a map of “Central Manila”; a Richard Edes Harrison map of “Europe as Viewed from the U.S.S.R.”; and “Big Business with a Heart”, a tribute to work of the American Red Cross.

A total of 67 Southwest Pacific Newsmaps were published between January 13, 1944 and April 13, 1945, including one “Extra” issued on October 21, 1944 to celebrate the Leyte invasion. A notice on the final Newsmap reads “Publication of Newsmap will be suspended—approximately 30 days—to permit the movement of editorial and published headquarters from APO 927 to APO 501”… that is, from Sydney to Manila. I have however found no indication that publication ever resumed under this title. The collection offered here includes 62 of the 65 issues, missing only Volume 1 nos. 17, 20, and 23. Even allowing for this, such a near-complete run is unheard of: By way of comparison, as of this writing not a single issue is currently listed on AbeBooks and only one on eBay.

OCLC 56033729 gives holdings at seven American institutional collections, though it is unclear how complete these holdings are. Background on the USAFFE from Wikipedia.