Every harrowing day for a serviceman during World War II was potentially his last. To help bolster troops against the horrors of combat, commanders encouraged them to form tight “buddy” relationships for emotional support.
Many war buddies, together every moment, and depending on each other to survive, formed intimate friendships. When they weren’t fighting side by side, they relaxed together, discharging tension in boisterous—sometimes naked—play.
The full extent of nude horseplay among men during World War II can’t be known, as cameras were rare and film hard to process, but some men did document this unprecedented male bonding in small, anonymous photos mostly kept hidden away until their deaths.