Walt Disney first world war sketchbook volume 1 near fricourt 1916 artiwmart16707a26f a2b085 editedWhile Walt Disney was working as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, he helped deliver supplies to devastated towns in post-war France and also provided taxi services for army officers and Red Cross canteen workers. He also drew in every moment of spare time and on anything that even slightly resembled a blank page – including canvas ambulance flaps. 

Walt Disney and the Great War: Just Keep Drawing

By MouseEars TV Creative Editor
via the MouseEars TV web site 

11:00 a.m., November 11th, 1918, marked the end of the Great War.

But for Walt Disney, it was the beginning of chasing bright dreams which were born in the rubble of war-torn Europe. His brush with “the war to end all wars” changed his life, inspiring him to embark on a path that would lead to the creation of the world’s most beloved cartoon characters and the happiest place on earth.

On this Veteran’s Day (or Armistice Day, as it was originally known), I’d like to take a look at Walt and his Great War experience, and how his happy, soft-hearted characters were inspired despite – or maybe in response to – the darkness of war.

A Little Forgery Never Hurt Anyone

In 1917, America finally entered into the fray of the First World War, and patriotic Walt was ready and willing to go serve his country. His older brother, Roy, had already enlisted in the Navy, and Walt thought he “looked swell in that sailor’s uniform.”

But Walt was only 16. Too young to enlist – by one year. However, surrounded by posters of Uncle Sam and rousing songs like “Over There,” Walt said desperately, “I just had to get in there.”

So, he concocted a foolproof plan: counterfeiting.

An artist even back then, Walt put his skills to the test and altered his passport birthdate from 1901 to 1900, giving him that essential, extra year. He’s lucky he wasn’t like Pinocchio, or his nose would’ve gotten SUPER long at the recruitment office. Just saying.

The Walt Disney Archives has this incriminating document, and frankly, it’s been said that “the forgery is obvious.” Nevertheless, the ruse paid off, and Walt was made a part of the Red Cross Ambulance Corps.

All I can say is, it’s a good thing Walt decided a life of crime wasn’t for him!

Read the entire article on the MouseEars TV web site here:


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