Welcome to "Invasion from the Front Lines"
The life of a soldier is hard for any civilian to imagine. The experiences of a soldier of the Second World War is thus invariably more difficult to understand. Luckily, records and accounts in myriad formats, from the photographic to the textual to the audiovisual, exist to help paint a more clear picture of life on the front lines.
My grandfather, Frank Vitale Jr., is the child of immigrant parents from Italy. Coming of age in the pre-WWII era, he graduated high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1943, and enlisted in the United States Army. He served the majority of his time in the 52nd Ordnance Group of the First Army, and travelled immediately behind the main advance. His job included supplying troops and processing captured German weapons, munitions, and technology for delivery and testing at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.
One of the men in the Ordnance Group carried along with him a camera. With it, he captured the scenes around him, from the comical to the stoic. These images, along with others taken by my grandfather and his "Army buddies," ended up in a photo album put together by him and his wife, Katherine. Although photographer information for most of the images is unknown, the photos are featured on this site as both a research tool and a memorial to the many shocking events of the Second World War.
The images featured on this site are powerful. They cover such historic events as the liberation of Paris, France, and the release of prisoners held at the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimer, Germany. However, the photos also capture the daily life of an American soldier in Europe. Both types of photographs tell us more about the Second World War, and help us truly understand this tragic time in world history.