Notable Signaleers


World War II - Walt Disney and the Signal Corps


One day in 1942, when new Navy torpedo boats were being launched, Lieutenant E. S. Caldwell, then of the Naval Operations office in Washington, wrote a letter to Walt Disney in Hollywood. He asked Disney to design an emblem appropriate for this new fleet of "mosquito boats." A few days later, back to the fleet came an emblem.


It was a little mosquito, streaking through the water with a tar's hat on his head and a shiny torpedo held between his many legs.


The insignia was such a hit that every torpedo boat in the fleet soon had a Disney mosquito. (In the photo at left, the insignia adorns the cabin of a PT boat.)


As soon as word got around in the Army and Navy as to what Disney had done, the Disney office was bombarded with requests to design insignia for tanks, minesweepers, bombers, and fighter planes. Disney did his best to comply.


When Brigadier General S. B. Buckner, commander of the Alaska Defense Force at Fort Richardson, Alaska, received his outfit's design — a seal balancing the letters ADF, the general wrote Disney: Since the arrival of the insignia, all of the seals in Bering Sea have been out on the ice pack halancing Ds on their noses, sneering derisively at the polar bears, expanding their chests, and cavorting merrily over being chosen to represent our defense forces.


It was clear that Disney and his artists had created a whole new system of heraldry, comparable to the ancient knightly arms.


With requests for insignia stilt pouring in from the Army and Navy, the Disney studios announced that they had already completed more than 200 designs, and were expected to do at least 500 more. Two of their artists were working full time on the job. Among his designs were some for the Signal Corps as shown for the 56th Signal Battalion.





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