And babies

Behind the camera: Ronald L. Haeberle
Where: Sơn Mỹ village, Sơn Tịnh district of South Vietnam
Photo Summary: Victims of the My Lai massacre
Picture Taken: March 16, 1968

In the early 70s, a poster was created to protest the Vietnam War. It combined photos taken by U.S. Army combat photographer Ronald L. Haeberle and a quote from a Mike Wallace CBS News television interview. Due to the ambiguous copyright status of the photo, it has appeared in numerous media including newspapers, magazines, poster runs, etc.

Creating the poster

In 1970 a group of Vietnam War activists called the Art Worker’s Coalition (AWC) created the And babies poster. AWC members Irving Petlin, Jon Hedricks, and Fraser Dougherty took text from an ABC interview, “And babies? And babies” and overlaid it onto the Haeberle’s photo. Peter Brandt donated enough paper for fifty thousand copies of the poster. While printing the printer staff showed intense hostility towards the AWC as the blue-collar workers were patriotic to the core and viewed any attack on government policy as an attack on the country. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) initially agreed to distribute the poster as a political statement that it was outraged by the My Lai massacre. Another obstacle encountered was when it went to MoMA directors William S. Paley and Nelson Rockefeller vetoed distributing it under the policy that the MoMA could not commit, “to any position on any matter not directly related to a specific function of the museum.” While they refused to fund the distribution they relented to allow independent distribution but the MoMA name could be used as the source of the creation. The poster was quickly snapped up and was spread and reproduced all over the world.

Exposing the photo


Only one week from finishing his tour of duty Ronald Haeberle was an Army photographer (31st Public Information Detachment) when on March 16, 1968, he accompanied Charlie Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division on an operation to the Sơn Mỹ village, Sơn Tịnh district of South Vietnam. On that day the Americans killed around three to five hundred villagers in what would become known as the My Lai Massacre. Haeberle later testified that he personally saw about 30 different American soldiers kill about 100 civilians. He recalled that he saw “Guys were about to shoot [the villagers]. I yelled, ‘hold it’, and shot my picture. As I walked away, I heard M16s open up. From the corner of my eye, I saw bodies falling, but I didn’t turn to look.” In another interview, he remembers that he ” didn’t make it to certain parts of the village where other things were going on, the rapes and the cutting of tongues and scalping and all that stuff. I didn’t see any of that.
The massacre would go unnoticed by the public until Haeberle haunted by his role in the event started to publish his pictures and investigative journalist Seymour Hersh took up the story after collaborating Haeberle’s pictures with the interviews from those involved in the massacre. Hersh tried to get his story published but most refused to believe that the event actually happened. Then a small publication the, The Plain Dealer, the major daily newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio was approached by Haeberle. Mike Roberts, a Plain Dealer Washington bureau reporter remembers that “No one believed [Hersh’s story] Bill Ware, the [Plain Dealer’s] executive editor, called; he wasn’t sure if we should go with it. Almost simultaneously, this kid comes forward with these pictures — Haeberle’s photographs legitimized the story.” In the course of verifying Haeberle story an Army prosecutor named Aubrey Daniel called and in strong language suggested that the paper halt publication of the photos. Another reporter at the paper remembered “Daniel told us, ‘You have no right to run those photos because [Haeberle] was using an Army camera,… And we told him he’d had his own camera, too.”
Eventually, 20 months after Charlie Company had mowed down hundreds of Vietnamese Hersh’s story was published and was picked up on the wire by over 30 publications. Around the same time, Haeberle got his gory photos published in LIFE magazine for $20,000. The media coverage combined with the efforts of soldier Ron Ridenhour exposed the massacre to the world. Ridenhour had found out about the event through other soldiers and when he returned to America started a letter campaign that was mostly ignored until Congressman Morris Udall (D) started to investigate. For his persistence in trying to get the story published Seymour Hersh received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.
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ABC Interview


On December 14, 1969, Mike Wallace, with CBS News, did a television interview with one of the soldiers, Paul Meadlo, who participated in the massacre. The text for the poster was taken from this interview:

Q:How many people did you round up?
A:Well, there was about forty, fifty people that we gathered in the center of the village. And we placed them in there, and it was like a little island, right there in the center of the village, I7d say … And …
Q:What kind of people – men, women, children?
A:Men, women, children.
Q:Babies?
A:Babies. And we huddled them up. We made them squat down and Lieutenant Calley came over and said, “You know what to do with them don’t you?” And I said yes. So I took it for granted that he just wanted us to watch them. And he left, and came back about ten or fifteen minutes later and said, “How come you ain’t killed them yet?” And I told him that I didn’t think you wanted us to kill them, that you just wanted us to guard them. He said, “No, I want them dead.” So-
Q:He told this to all of you, or to you particularly?
A:Well, I was facing him. So, but the other three, four, guys heard it and so he stepped back about ten, fifteen feet, and he started shooting them. And he told me to start shooting. So I started shooting, I poured about four clips into the group.
Q:You fired four clips from your …
A:M-16
Q:And that’s about how many clips – I mean, how many –
A:I carried seventeen rounds to each clip.
Q:So you fired something like sixty-seven shots?
A:Right
Q:And you killed how many? At that time?
A:Well, I fired them automatic, so you can’t know hom any you killed ’cause they were going fast. So I might have killed ten or fifteen of them.
A:Men, women and children?
Q:Men, women and children.
A:And babies?
Q:and babies.

Copy right status

Ronald L. Haeberle took the photo while in the American military as a US army combat photographer. As such any work, he did as a government employee should fall into the public domain. However, Haeberle used multiple cameras; the first was his black and white Army issued camera and the second was his personal camera that used color film. Therefore the copyright is uncertain as he used his own camera to take the, “And babies”, poster photo. Further clouding the status of the photo is that text is overlapped over of the photo making it an altered original work of art, much like the more modern Fairey Obama Poster. Regardless of the poster status, just the photo was published by Time/Life and Haeberle granted reproduction rights to the AWC without charge on December 16, 1970.

John Morris, the photo editor for The New York Times at the time remembers:

In late morning, we received word that London papers, copying the photos from The Plain Dealer, were going ahead without payment, ignoring the copyright. The New York Post followed, in its early afternoon edition. Rosenthal decreed that it would now be ridiculous for The Times to pay. We would publish “as a matter of public interest.” The next day, November 22, [1969] The Times ran one My Lai picture on page three—downplayed to avoid sensationalism.

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Wait for me, Daddy

Behind the camera: Claude P. Dettloff
Where: Eighth Street and Columbia Avenue intersection, New Westminster, Canada
Photo Summary: The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) marching down the street when Warren “Whitey” Bernard runs out to his father, Pte. Jack Bernard.
Picture Taken: October 1, 1940

Canada had been at war for over a year and still, the men of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) waited to be called up for service. Finally, in 1940 the order came down and the men marched through New West Minister to a waiting train to take them overseas. As the men marched, one little boy, seeing his father ran out onto the street and was quickly chased by his mother. Photographer Claude P. Dettloff was all ready to take a picture of the hundreds of BC boys going off to war when Warren “Whitey” Bernard ran into his picture. With a click Dettloff took one of the defining Canadian pictures of World War II.

Background


The Oct. 2, 1940, front page of The Province featured Claude P. Dettloff's famous Wait for Me, Daddy photo.

The Oct. 2, 1940, front page of The Province featured Claude P. Dettloff’s famous Wait for Me, Daddy photo.


The Bernard family was at that time living in Vancouver near Queen Elizabeth Park. Five-year-old Warren “Whitey” Bernard was in Grade 1 at nearby General Wolfe Elementary (His mother had lied about his age to get him in). Whitey’s Dad was enlisted in the British Columbia Regiment and was stationed in the city on various sentry points throughout the city. Since the declaration of war in 1939, the men of the BC regiment had been doing various guard duty assignments which were boring and monotonous. One of the most exciting events occurred when a bored sentry at the Jerrico Air Base fired his weapon into the ground and then informed his superiors that he was shot at. Worried about German saboteurs guard duty was doubled, especially after an expert from Ottawa was sent in to investigate; after careful study he declared it to be 9mm German slug. The base would have remained on high alert if a suspicious Lt Neil Pattullo hadn’t coaxed out the “true” story out of the sentry.
Finally after months of waiting the regiment received word that it was to be moving to a secret destination “Overseas.” As the troops marched to a waiting train to take them to their next destination photographer Claude P. Dettloff snapped the photo standing at the Columbia St crossing as the men marched down Eighth Street in New Westminster, Canada.

Whitey Fame



Whitey doesn’t remember running on to the street or getting his picture taken but he does remember the next day when after the picture was published in the Province Newspaper he became the most famous kid in Vancouver. As other newspapers picked up the photo he soon became the most famous child in Canada. The small Whitey was even enlisted to sell war bonds. In an interview years later he remembered that the war bond drives were quite fun.

Colourized version of the photo by Doug of @colour_history

They were six weeks long, and so I had to be excused from school. They had entertainers and put on shows. I remember meeting Edgar Bergen and ‘talking’ to his dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, and there were local entertainers, too: Barney Potts, Thora Anders, Pat Morgan, and I’d come out at the end in front of a big blowup of the picture with a fellow dressed up as my dad. I’d stand there in my dressy blue blazer and short grey pants, they put me in short pants, and give a little speech, and I’d end by asking everyone to buy war bonds to help Bring My Daddy Home. That got everyone all misty-eyed and they’d rush up to buy bonds.

His future wife, Ruby, fondly recalls that she had actually known her husband for years. Whitey’s photo “was hung in every school in B.C. during the war,” she said. “I saw him years and years before we actually met.”
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Overseas


The reunion after the war

The reunion after the war


As for his Dad, Pte. Jack Bernard, the secret “overseas” location turned out to be the Camp Nanaimo base only a few hours away on Vancouver Island. The regiment spent time on the coast defending against German and then Japanese attack. It wasn’t until August 1942 that the bulk of the Regiment sailed for England. They didn’t see action until July 23, 1944, when they landed at the established D-Day beachhead and participated in Operation Totalize, one of the first attempts to close the Falaise Gap. After the Allies had crushed the German Army groups based in France they with the rest of Allies harassed the retreating Germans all the way to Holland. There the regiment took part in a number of operations in Holland and in Northern Germany. The last battle they took part in was on April 17, 1945, when they crossed the Kusten Canal. A month later Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day) was declared on May 5, 1945. Throughout the war the Regiment had 122 Officers and men killed and 213 wounded.

After the War


Whitey Bernard pointing himself out

Whitey Bernard pointing himself out


Whitey’s dad survived the European theatre and came home in October 1945. One causality of the war was Whitey’s parents’ marriage; as Jack and Bernice Bernard eventually divorced. Whitey grew up and moved to Tofino and met and married his wife Ruby in 1964. He ran a small marina that sold hardware and gas before getting involved in local politics. He was elected an alderman then was major for several years before becoming a Councillor. He’s now retired but his son, Steven Bernard, still runs the family marina.

More Images of World War II


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