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"Three Jeers for the Souvenir Sap" from Intelligence Bulletin, January 1944

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following article on souvenir hunting was originally published in the January 1944 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



Intelligence reports from various theaters of operations continue to emphasize the shortsighted behaviour of souvenir-hunting U.S. soldiers.1 These men frequently risk their lives by pulling or prying off parts of matériel which sometimes have booby traps attached to them, or by picking up small items of enemy equipment.

Besides the immediate personal dangers involved in collecting souvenirs, this practice greatly handicaps the collection of intelligence regarding enemy matériel and equipment. An Ordnance intelligence officer who recently returned from a major theater of operations stated without reservation that the proper collection of intelligence data had been delayed for weeks, and even months, by soldiers who were guilty of the following offenses:

a. Taking nameplates off enemy tanks and other equipment;

b. Stripping the motors of enemy vehicles of various types;

c. Removing parts from enemy radios and transmitting and receiving sets; and

d. Firing at captured tanks to exhibit marksmanship prowess.


a. Private (signal company)

This private suffered hand wounds and lacerations of his face and eyes when the propelling charge of a Japanese Model 97 hand grenade was accidentally detonated. His story:

"While passing through antiaircraft positions near an engineer dump on Kiska, I noticed several copper tubes scattered around a case of hand grenades. They caught my eye as possible souvenirs, and I picked one up and put it in my pocket. Later, in our tent, I took it out and examined it near the stove. Apparently the heat from the stove caused the charge to detonate. Here I am [in the hospital], and I wouldn't recommend souvenir hunting to anyone."

b. Second Lieutenant (AA artillery)

This lieutenant lost two fingers of his right hand and suffered lacerations of his face, eyes, and body when the detonator of a Japanese 20-mm (?) shell exploded. His story:

"I had picked up the shell as a souvenir and had removed the detonator. Like a damn fool, I was trying to pick the detonator clean with a steel tool. I think scraping caused the explosion."

c. Private (engineer company)

Although this is not an instance of souvenir hunting, it is presented here because gross carelessness was involved. The private suffered a wound in his thigh from steel splinters of a shell which exploded when it was tossed into a campfire. His story:

"We were working on the beach and had carelessly built a fire near a large quantity of enemy ammunition. It was buried in the ground and lying around loose on the top. Someone threw a round into the fire and I got hurt."

1 In connection with this section, reference should be made to Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 2, pp. 72-74, "Souvenir Hunters Cause Needless Loss of Lives."


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