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Johnny Waller's Wartime Photography

Although personal cameras were fairly new consumer products, Johnny was becoming an avid amateur photographer. He owned a couple cameras before the war, but seems to have left them in Buffalo with his family. Although he mentions using cameras and procuring film while overseas, Johnny is never clear whether he is using his own camera or borrowing from a friend, though likely he did both. The soldiers developed their own film, which didn't always work out as planned.

Remember those snaps I said we were going to print. Well we tried to on our return trip Friday, however the negatives weren't clear enough for us to make a print. The fact is, all that showed up when we printed them was a black square the size of the picture. It 'kinda' exasperated me to see the image in the negative and not be able to re-produce it. The trouble was that I took the pictures on a dark day with an ordinary box camera belonging to one of the boys. It had only one shutter speed which would be equivalent to f16 on my own camera at home. They have stops from f16 to 3.5 while the shutter work up to 1/500th of a sec. on the one and 1/1000th of a sec. on my other camera. Pardon me for getting a little technical honey, although you may know more about the subject than I do. Boiled down it means I should have realized that a box camera doesn't let enough light through to the film on a dull day. With a 3.5 lens you can take a picture in the rain and have it turn out as well as one taken in sunlite, but a box camera doesn't have such a lens.

- Johnny Waller to Geraldine Rowbottom

February 11, 1945

Johnny's photographic work comprises two types: scenes of England taken during his furlough or trips into town, and group photos of his fellow soldiers in the army. Together, they depict the settings in which Johnny was able to socialize and find entertainment, and those men alongside whom he worked and played. Although Johnny could not say where the photographs were taken, the scenes are all common tourist locations in England

Westminster Abbey, London

Presumably taken while Johnny was on leave in London, this photograph shows cars and pedestrians in the foreground, Parliament Square, and Westminster Abbey in the background. On the back of the photo, Johnny wrote, "Can't say where this is but maybe you know."

Tower Clock, London

This photograph was presumably taken at the same time as Johnny's picture of Westminster Abbey. This photograph also captured a car in the foreground, but shows the Tower Clock in the background, which shows the time as about 3:03 P.M. Inside the tower resides the famous bell called "Big Ben."

Central Pier at Blackpool, England

This photograph is one of two that Johnny took while on furlough at Blackpool on the coast of the Irish Sea. In the foreground are beach-goers in typical mid-century leisure clothing (although no bathing suits are visible). The Central Pier in the background displays large advertisements for bands performing at the dance hall in 1944.

Promenade, Blackpool, England

This second photograph from Blackpool shows the promenade, a row of stores and amusements along the waterfront. The Louis Tussaud's Wax Works on the right still stands there today (albeit under a different name). The Bee Amusement Arcade standing to the left of Tussaud's appears in images of Blackpool from the Victorian period, but was later demolished to make room for modern construction. The buildings along the street, many of which are Victorian in style, are all covered in advertisements for food and entertainment.

Army Buddies

Standing Left to Right:

  1. Acting 1st Sergeant Worthington
  2. Mike Santucci
  3. Johnny Bauer
  4. Oscar George
  5. Steve Frost

Sitting Left to Right:

  1. Paul Zuzi (717th man)
  2. Joe Krieger
  3. Patty Smith
  4. Johnny Waller

More Army Buddies

Standing Left to Right:

  1. Eugene Hitchcock (Georgia)
  2. Paul Zuzi (New Jersey)
  3. Joe Hudak (New Jersey)
  4. Lee Like (Illinois)
  5. Danny Cohen (New York City)

The man standing in the dark suit is a British Chief Petty Officer in His Majesty's Navy.

Kneeling Left to Right:

  1. Craig Winters (Kansas)
  2. Gil Zirkin (New York City)
  3. Joe Krieger (New York City)
  4. Johnny Waller (Buffalo, New York)


  1. Steve Frost (Kentucky)
  2. Ray Boucher (New Hampshire)

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