There are plenty of enemy propaganda rumors being circulated within our Army. We are not surprised about that. After all, the rumor is a perfectly legitimate weapon in modern warfare and the enemy would be a sap if he didn’t try to make use of it. It’s safe to say that we have probably planted a few rumors of our own—nice fat ones with whiskers—in the bars and men’s rooms in Berlin and Munich where they will do us the most good.

But we are surprised at the way that Americans in the armed forces keep falling for these enemy rumors. Not the clever ones, either, but the out-and-out cock-and-bull stories that anybody with even a suggestion of intelligence ought to be able to see through at first glance.

Take, for instance, that rumor about Mrs. Roosevelt and the Marines. You’ve hear it all over the Pacific and also in Panama, only down there the rumor-spreaders put the Army into it instead of the Marines. The story is that Mrs. Roosevelt made a speech on the radio demanding that no marine should be allowed to return home from foreign service or be allowed to marry until he had proper medical treatment for you-know-what. Not only that, Mrs. Roosevelt was supposed to have said she was in favor of segregating returning marines on an island off the coast until they were certain as clean.

elanor roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt meets with sailors in the Galapagos Islands.

How anybody could believe that one is beyond us. But Mrs. Roosevelt reported in her newspaper column recently that during her travels in the Pacific she heard about marines in New Zealand who not only believed it but were plenty sore about it. None of them, of course, heard it on the radio himself. They got it from somebody who heard it from somebody else.

As Mrs. Roosevelt points out and as any sensible person would know without having it pointed out, no broadcasting company would ever allow here to make such statements over the air. “I have never made them either in public or private because such thoughts have never been in my mind,” she adds.

We should be ashamed to admit that the enemy could put over such an obvious fifth-column rumor as this one on the men in our armed forces. But he has put it over; in fact, so successfully that the wife of the President has been forced to make a public denial of the story.

If P.T. Barnum heard about the way some soldiers, sailors and marines swallow rumors, he would probably change his estimation of the birth rate of suckers. In the armed forces, there is one born every 30 seconds.

eleanor roosevelt, general harmon, admiral halsey, wwii new caledonia

Eleanor Roosevelt, General Harmon and Admiral Halsey in New Caledonia

For More on Eleanor Roosevelt Check Out:

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

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  • Bill Getz says:

    Never heard about this one or my memory of that period has deteriorated; probably the latter. This was not a major issue of the war.

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