Posted by: notsofancynancy | April 5, 2012

World War II, Chapter 6, The Yoo Hoo Incident

World War II

Chapter 6

The Yoo Hoo Incident

It is here in the timeline that the incident that made my father’s regiment famous happened. Dad was on furlough at this time, falling in love with my mom and hanging out with her family in Brookville, Kansas. Even so, news of this incident provided the “mothers” of the soldiers a reason to campaign. This is where Dad’s regiment and Lieutenant General (LTG) Ben Lear were granted the first nicknames of World War II. This is a story worth preserving.

General Ben Lear (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The 110th Quartermaster, 35 Division, still at Camp Robinson was providing ground transportation for the 2nd Infantry to and from the Tennessee training grounds which were about 145 miles away. The training exercises were headed by a newly promoted Lieutenant General (LTG) Ben Lear. From reading my father’s letters at 62 years old he directed and trained his soldiers like a conductor conducts a band, with precision. Lear expected his soldiers to exhibit good manners as well as learn to fight and live like soldiers.

On a hot day in July 1941, the 110thQM rolled into Memphis Tennessee. It was returning to Camp Robinson after six weeks in the field in a convoy of 80 trucks and over 300 men. The men had been praised for being top notch in their field maneuvers and they were proud. They had to remove their hats because their heads had gotten quite big with all the praise they had gotten.

They were almost giddy (if a man can be giddy) as they began their return trip. The Division knew they would be sleeping in their bunks back in camp with full bellies, and a warm shower rather than bathing out of their helmet as they had just learned to do. They broke out in song and tried to pass the time, loosened their ties, and unbuttoned the top button of their fatigues to help with the unrelenting heat. They passed through Tennessee on that hot day and being only 45 miles from Camp Robinson the soldiers were anxious to get some well deserved rest.

A convoy from Dad’s View

It was then the convoy reached a Country Club and there just happened to be a group of beautiful woman in short golf skirts which were all the rage in 1941 They had just finished a round of golf. As boys will be boys and men will be men the soldiers hollered out to the woman with many whistles and lots of Yoo Hoo’s. I am sure many other words were said. They also started razzing the other golfers trying to throw them off their game. At this point an unassuming old man came out from the golf course. He arrived sporting Oxford golf cleats, a pair of cotton seersucker knickers, his matching knee high socks, brown vest and his golf club clutched in his hand. He shook it at the trucks in anger. When the soldiers saw him, it added more fuel to the fire as they laughed and made fun of the old geezer. He stomped and hollered spewing his displeasure in not so many words. The end of the convoy was abreast when the man was finally recognized by the commanding officers riding in one of the last trucks. It was LTG Ben Lear in the flesh. He certainly did not look like a Lieutenant General in his golf clothes. He was certainly not doing a happy dance. He was disgusted with the men’s lack of respect for the lovely ladies and ashamed of them exhibiting such inappropriate behavior while wearing the Army uniform. As the Commanders tried to calm him down, the first of the 80 trucks were so far ahead not everyone knew what had just transpired. Lear got even angrier and demanded that the men return to camp night and they stay loaded in their vehicles until he got there to address them.

Now remember, the convoy was so long that the front did not even see LTG Lear and had no idea why they were told to hold their positions on their loaded trucks. There were many baffled soldiers wanting to get the trucks unloaded so they could relax. The smell of dinner filled the air and the men were excited to catch up on the mail that they had missed while they were gone. LTG Lear appeared in his uniform with his stripes and stars and demanded that every man on that convoy turn in their resignation or face their punishment. A lot of them did not know why they were being punished until Lear left that night. The men were aghast with shame as they learned the identity of the man with the golf club, the man that most of the men did not see. LTG Lear was now a face not one of those men would ever forget, and this incident would bind the regiment together long after the war. The regiment was told to go back to the airport in Memphis, set their tents up and fall in the next morning for a field inspection. There was no shower that evening. Although they got the food it was ice cold and not many ate. More than half of the convoy was paying for the remarks of a couple truck loads of men. In the morning they would stand as one.

35th Quartermaster

If you look at our service people today you might say, fifteen miles is not such a hard thing to do especially if they are doing only five miles at a time. But these men had only begun training and were only six weeks into field training. Up until now their training was behind books. Most of them were farm boys who had entered the National Guards with the lure of money, a twenty dollar paycheck each month. They were now finding themselves training for a war they did not think they would have to fight Most of the men were truck drivers, clerical workers, secretaries, typist, and officers. Lastly, it was hot and humid having topped the chart off at 97 degrees. Many men fell off the lines that day due to heatstroke and dehydration.

The “Yoo Hoo March,” as it had come to be known was about to climb its way to too being the biggest controversy so far in the men’s training. Apparently there was a club of moms, called The Arkansas Department of Army Mothers. Once they caught wind of the incident and learned of the plight of the soldiers it was on! I have seen how protective moms can be of their sons. I cannot even imagine how those moms’ made the incident and their displeasure known. Within the month the whole United States knew about the fifteen mile hike and the opinions were flying. Congressmen and senators weighed-in with their opinions. The commander of the 35th Division was Major General Ralph E. Truman, cousin to then Senator Harry S. Truman. The Major General voiced his support for the discipline being too harsh for the infamous incident. It seems from all accounts the only people who did not complain much were the men from the 110 QM. With all the press around they thought they were stars. The crowds lined the streets all the way back to camp with people cheering the men on.

LTG Lear and the 110th QM would receive the first nicknames of World War II forever being branded as Yoo Hoo Lear, and the 110th Yoo Hoo Regiment. It was also the first time a Civilian would write a song about World War II. The stories went wild and made plenty of newspapers. It also spread by word of mouth. Eventually the story was featured in Time Magazine in July 1941.  Two songs were written about the incident: The “Yoo Hoo Song” was sung to “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”;  and a song called “Yankee Doodle 1941”, with words like “General Lear was playing golf (he is twelve years over fifty), pretty girls were playing too and boy did they look nifty.” There was a Yoo Hoo pack of cigarettes, there were candy bars made, and there was even a Yoo Hoo club started with membership cards.

“Those poor men did nothing wrong,” A group of young Texan woman reported in a newspaper article about the incident. It featured four beautiful college women from San Antonio Texas holding a sign that says, “YOO HOO ALL YOU WANT TO BOYS, Lear isn’t here,” and “Come on down fellows!” There was talk of asking for LTG Lear’s resignation but he defended his decision. I cannot imagine something like this getting into the press these days but our country was trying to learn just how to do this thing called war and LTG Lear was dedicated to making these boys into soldiers.

35th-110

Dad writes about the incident

13 July 1941

That deal about those boys walking home from Tennessee. I guess the general was playing golf with some lady friends and one of the boys hollered and told him not to get it in the wrong hole. That is what started the whole thing.

And in the same envelope he writes to my grandma.

Sure was glad to hear from you. I guess everybody feels the same about the Generals deal on that convoy. Part of it those boys had been on maneuvers for the past 6 weeks. One captain is in the hospital over it and about 10 passed out on the way. The papers down here have sure been full of it. Last Sunday one paper had a full page of letters written in by people along the way.

Then on 29 July 1941 he writes.

I was in town to a show Sat. nite and they had a phase in the news reel about the Yoo Hoo boys. That sure covered a lot of territory. We have heard about it being used in Oregon. They were making fun of it up there.

Our father’s regiment became famous and because of the Yoo Hoo incident they would always be remembered as the “110th Yoo Hoo Regiment.” It was on the brochures of each of their reunions and the story told and retold. The name also stuck with LTG Lear and followed him home three years later. As the ship docked that he sailed home in Lear walked to disembark and was met by hundreds of GI’s shouting “Yoo Hoo!” LTG Lear with a blank face and no acknowledgement of what was shouted stormed ashore keeping his head up, shoulders back, gut sucked in ignoring the Yoo Hoo’s. To this day if you look up LTG Ben Lear you will find that the Yoo Hoo nickname follows him even in death.

Reference Wikipedia, 35th Division, 110th Regiment, the 1958 Reunion Brochure, Time Magazine July 1944, Mike Allred Yoo Hoo Scrapbook Collection

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Responses

  1. OMG! So the term “Learing” came from this guy!!!! That’s crazy! Amazing story Nancy, really, really cool 🙂

    • lol I am not sure that the term learing came from this but if these men were anything like my dad they were certainly leering at those woman!

  2. Thanks for sharing that story. I hadn’t heard of it. And thanks for reading my blog.

    • Thanks for taking time to read my story. But it is much more than a story. It is my fathers life. Loved your blog! thanks!

  3. Great story; I’m still smiling about it. Thanks for sharing your family’s history. I’ve just begun the journey to research and tell my own family’s stories and really appreciate hearing other people’s.

    • I cannot wait to read about your family! Thanks for taking time to read mine!

  4. I appreciate what you are sharing on your blog. This keeps history alive – more than what we heard from our family members and certainly more than a history book. We need to hear it. Thanks.

    • Thank you very much. It is not always easy to write when you are writing about your parent, but I feel the same way. It is stuff we need to hear and preserve. Thank you for taking the time to read it. It is people like you who care, that keep me going. God Bless

      • If you don’t mind I’d like to add your blog as a link from http://reclaimourrepublic.wordpress.com/ as I do want people to read real history. Keep up the good work. God Bless

      • It would be my honor. Maybe that way one more person might learn something from what my dad went through. Thank you!

      • my pleasure!

  5. Such a great story. Love the news clipping of the girls with the ‘Yoo Hoo all you want, boys!’ sign!!!

    • Priceless! A story almost lost. Yeah! for us the keepers of the history and to us for passing it on!

  6. Reblogged this on po11ycheck.

  7. Loved reading this story!

    • Thank for stopping by and taking the time to read my fathers story! I will post chapter 13 on Thursday, stay tuned!

  8. Very cool. I wonder if the chocolate drink ‘Yoo-hoo” was named after this.

  9. I loved this story, thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you for taking the time to read it. It was my fathers regiment’s claim to fame and a story told to us growing up. It was almost lost until I dug it up and hopefully have preserved it.

      God Bless

  10. […] Posted in: Makes You Feel Good, Military. Tagged: Yoo hoo incident. 1 comment Reposting from NotsofancyNancy a WWII blog I like, great […]

  11. Thank you Nancy for sharing this story. I loved reading it.

    • Thank you so much for reading it. My dad would be proud! God Bless

  12. Thanks for sharing this story of your father. My Great Grandfather served in the 25th Armored Engineer Corps during WWII. He was at the Battle of the Bulge, and a few other historic battles. He actually received a bronze star for his actions and had achieved “Marksman” during training. I have all of his medals and pins.

    I plan on going into WWI Archeology and history just fascinates me. Thanks again for sharing.

    • thank you for your great grandfathers service! Will you blog about it?

  13. That was so interesting, others are so right, the most interesting details of even the best stories might be shared between families or told to “Dear Diary”.

    • Thanks for taking the time to read it. It was an important incident to those of the 110th QM. I am glad I can pass the story to others!

      Thanks for taking the time to read it.

  14. @notsofancynancy…This is one of those stories that makes us realize that life was still trying to go on as our soldiers fought through the war-torn years.

    You are a brave daughter!

    • Thank you so much. Some days I feel frustrated I did not start it before he passed away. I have so many questions. But he did not talk about the war so maybe it was not yet time.

      God Bless and thanks for taking time to read his story.

  15. @notsofancynancy…Don’t be discouraged! I lost my Dad (87) on Father’s Day last year, and he, too, didn’t speak too much about his WWII experiences. It’s difficult to do.

    But you are on the right track, and there are support groups to help you with your research and study, if you have not already found them. Lots of people are looking for information on their war-time loved ones, some much less lucky than you and I have been.

    Hang in there!

    • I did not know about the support groups. Where I am at now in Dad’s letters he is trying to write every day in 1943. That is a lot of letters. But I do love the history part of it.

      Where can I find the support groups. If I can help others by writing this I know I have done a good thing. Dad would be proud!

      • I think you created an on line support group by what you have posted. You are helping yourself and others. Your Blog reminds me of the movie Field of Dreams. You may be able to find groups as suggested by bahelberg1 with a google search. You may also make a request on other Blogs (such as ROR) in a reply to a posting on that Blog.

      • You will not believe how much your words mean to me. You actually brought a tear to my eye. Going through these letters is very hard. But I do it for the families of the men my father served with, I do it for all the other families out who had a father who was “just a truck driver.” To hear you say that about my blog. “I think you created an online support group by what you posted.” Well that is just the icing on the cake. Thank you so much for your kind words.

      • You are very welcome. Keep up the good work. As you bless others with your blog entries you yourself are being blessed!

      • @notsofancynancy…I agree with the remarks from “ror1774”. Your journey so far is an amazing trip that can be a resource for others.

        If you google these —

        “letters from veterans” (look for the entry ‘American Experience…D-Day etc.’);

        “letters from war” (look for the entry about a book of letters from veterans, and the entry about a PBS TV program);

        “letters from veterans of war” (look for the entry ‘Letters from Dad’s Stint as a hero’, from a Cleveland Plain Dealer column, especially interesting);

        and “letters from soldiers in WW II” —

        you may find some situations that parallel yours, or even be able to personally connect with someone who is doing the same thing you are doing.

        And you might write to or e-mail the military USO and inquire about searching through and categorizing military letters.

        Hope this info leads to something worthwhile to help you in your endeavor!!

      • Thank you so much!!!

        I am off to follow your leads.

        God Bless!

  16. Reblogged this on Southeast Valley R.O.M.E.O's.

  17. Thank you for liking my blog post “Babies with Feathers,” http://lgonse.wordpress.com/. I am impressed with your blog. It is very interesting and I’ll follow you and tell others about your blog.

    • Thanks!! I call them babies with feathers too. lol

  18. great story, told well. I serve as editor for DD 214 Chronicle, a bimonthly newspaper for veterans in northeast Ohio. Can I run your piece? Of course I’ll give you all the credit and mail copies to you. thank you, John H. Tidyman (216) 789-3502, forgedirons@yahoo.com.

  19. Thanks for the story. My dad is 89 and also a WWII veteran with almost a photographic memory. I’ve been writing down some of his adventures. He was in the Pacific. I printed this story to give to him as he refuses to get a computer.

    • I am honored! Please thank him for his service and let me know what he thinks!

  20. This is a great story and well-written. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read it and leave such a wonderful comment!

  21. What a coincidence! I just finished looking through a bunch of WWII pictures taken by my (step)father, Edward Milton Shaffer, one of those Nebraska farm boys in the 35th. I also read the “ATTACK” publication, an article about the “yoohoo incident” and two issues of the “Santa Fe”, which he had sent to my mother while overseas. Imagine my surprise when I googled the 35th yoohoo division to find your blog!

    • Wow! Welcome! I checked the roster I have and found Mr. Shaffer’s name on it in the second platoon! I see he was from Holdrege. I am also in touch with another Holdrege family by the name of Cain. I would love to invite you to view and add to the pictures I have in a photo album on the web and be a part of my father’s story. Every time I find another of the men Dad served with I feel like I found another family member! If you are interested in knowing more please email me at kivasmyangel@yahoo.com. I just checked my pictures and I have one picture of Mr. Shaffer from overseas, provided by the Cain family.

  22. I do not much appreciate you taking the scanned newspaper clippings that I posted on a collecting forum and call them yours. One can see the creases, wrinkles, and stains where the clippings had been pasted in the scrapbook. Also, you conveniently cropped the clippings so as not to show the handwriting that appears on some of them. The link is to my original post where the images were lifted.

    http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/4847-yoo-hoo-regiment-scrapbook/

    • My apologies… I was led to believe those images were part of the 35th quartermaster collection in my possesion. I was given them on a disc with other images from family members of the Quartermaster. I have visited your site and have compared the images that are yours and removed them. Do you mind if I at least put a link to your collection? Would you like me to delete them from the quartermaster collection? I am so sorry for the confusion.

      • You can link to the original post and, if you wish, continue to use them on you site giving me proper credit for them.

      • OMGoodness thank you so much! It does add a lot to the story. I am really sorry. I so want to preserve this story as it was told to us as kids. It was one of the only things that I remember my father talking about the war. I have tears in my eyes when I say I am sorry. I would never want to do anything to tarnish this infamous Yoo hoo Regiment. I will do a re write on it and give you credit, link back to your site and will send you a note when I do it. Thanks for sharing your amazing collection!

  23. This story is STILL paying dividends for you and many others. Thanks again for sharing it.

    • Thanks so much it has been a rough day for the Yoo Hoo!

      • The bad days ALWAYS make you enjoy the GOOD days more.

  24. Great story. If only whistles and yoo hoos were our problems today. Sounds like it was quite an ordeal. At least the General was standing firm on his principles. Thanks for sharing!

    • First and foremost thank you for your service. I have learned so much about my father’s time overseas through this journey. I think the biggest thing which I believe still exists today: “Hurry up and wait.” driving in convoys 80+ miles long and only allowed to do 35mph made for a lot of time waiting. God Bless

      • “Hurry up an wait.” Some things never change. Thank you for serving as well.

      • “Hurry up and wait.” Some things never change. Thank you for your service as well!


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