If you ever thought about the concept of war, the chances are you’ll think about it in a negative light. From the outset, the initial imagery and buzz words that spring to mind usually include fighting, battles and plenty of senseless tragedies. Nevertheless, although this may be true, we want to shed some light on the other side of war. These are the uplifting and memorable moments that emerge in the most unexpected places. They do say that some of the most heartwarming stories stem from tragedies. So we want to explore the side of war that they don’t reveal in the history books.
While some of the soldiers in these photos spent their time off duty hanging out with the locals, others risked everything to protect strangers. A few actually fell in love in the most hopeless of places, and some relieved a little energy by kicking back with some baby kangaroos. So get ready to stroll through and check out some touching pictures of war that will warm your heart.
An Anniversary to Remember
Our first uplifting story begins in 1946 with Edith Steiner, a Jewish woman who managed to survive the Holocaust. Edith was actually saved by a Scottish Soldier, John Mackay and soon after, the adorable pair fell in love. On July 17th, 1946, the happy couple tied the knot. We’re happy to report that the duo will be celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary later this year! This romantic story might just deserve its own movie.
Interestingly, there’s more to the story than we first thought. Although the couple didn’t actually meet when Edith’s camp at Auschwitz was rescued by a group of Allied troops, they met after. In fact, soon after the camp was liberated, the troops put on a dance in a local hall which was attended by both survivors and soldiers. When Edith strolled into the dance that day and met John Mackay, it was love at first sight. After marrying, the couple made a life for themselves in Dundee, Scotland. And as they say, the rest is history.
Crossing the Line
This incredible photo was taken in Germany in 1961 at the site of the newly formed Berlin Wall fence. Although the German soldier seems to be looking back and ignoring the young boy, there’s more to this photo than meets the eye. In fact, he is going against his direct orders from his Officer and is actually helping the little boy cross the fence after being separated from his family.
In the post-war era Germany, the country was plunged into chaos and divided into a confusing patchwork of areas and zones. These zones were occupied by Americans, British, French, and the Soviets. In 1961 the Soviets were given direct orders to construct a barbed wire fence between East and West Germany. However, when this little boy was separated from his family this brave soldier lifted him over to be reunited and have a chance for a better life.
While war can be tragic and you can encounter some dark moments on the battlefield, this soldier took a little time-out. Here you can see him breathing some new life into this orphaned kitten and feeding it with a small tube. The touching photo was taken during the Korean War where Sergeant Frank Praytor was serving as a combat correspondent in the Marines, and he actually adopted the kitten after the mother died in the war.
In 2009 the photo was published and soon after, it went viral all over the world. After featuring in some major publications, the photo attracted a great deal of attention from fans and he even received a few marriage proposals. After spending some brief time back in the US, Praytor returned to Korea to write for Stars and Stripes, and he was reunited with the kitten. Our touching story had an unfortunate ending though, as Praytor passed away in New Mexico in 2018.
War Horse Tribute
In times of war, we would usually think first about the tragic human cost. However, there’s also a rich history of animals who actually serve their countries too and are often forgotten. So we were pleased to see that in 1918, a few honorable US soldiers took the time to simulate the image of a giant horse, to pay tribute to the 8 million animals that lost their lives during World War I.
During the Great War, many horses, mules, and donkeys played their part and helped serve their country in battle. They also enlisted the help of many dogs, cats, and even bears who gave their lives too. So this group of soldiers paid homage to all the lost animals with this symbolic gesture of a war horse. We have to admit that the attention to detail, especially the white part depicting the horse’s reigns is incredibly touching.
Crossing Enemy Lines
As this beautiful photo demonstrates, although two countries might be at war, it doesn’t mean each person has to be an enemy. This touching image was captured in the 1940s during World War II when the US and Japan were official at war. Although there were laws against fraternizing with the enemy, it didn’t stop this soldier and local Japanese girl from crossing enemy lines and sharing a bar of chocolate and cigarettes together.
This photo is the proof we all need that although governments might be at war and impose restrictions on us all, they can’t always prevent people from building relationships with those from other countries. And this is the uplifting part about war, relationships being formed in the most unlikely situations.
Whispering Sweet Nothings
To set the scene, this image was captured in 1939 at the onset of World War II. At that time England rounded up its troops and embarked on a mission to try to defeat Germany by force. At that point, the British military seemed to be filled with optimism, which is encapsulated in this photo. So here you can see the soldier is smiling and whispering into the ear of his lover as he leaves for the Front.
This photo is even more emotive because, in hindsight, we know that even though the British were filled with optimism in 1939, they still had a long way to go to defeat Germany. It also brings home the idea that most soldiers are just like us, with families and loved ones. The fact that they leave their loved ones to brave it out on the battlefield and defend us all, is also pretty heroic.
D-Day Veterans: Then & Now
This photo is actually awesome for so many reasons. On the left of the image, you will see a group of veterans who fought in D-Day in Normandy in 1944. On the right, you will see their younger selves, captured on camera on the same plane, just before they were dropped off into Normandy for the battle.
In case you weren’t familiar with the phrase ‘D-Day’ it was actually one of the last battles of World War II. In 1944 the Allied forces landed on the beach in Normandy, before traveling through occupied France and going onto defeating Germany. The battle was monumental and many soldiers lost their lives, which makes it even more poignant that this group of veterans managed to live to an old age to pose for this incredible photo.
A Goodbye Kiss
During the war in 1941, this sassy photo shows the other side of the battlefield, where even the most serious soldiers need to go off duty sometimes. So when the aspiring actress Martha O’Driscoll was commissioned to entertain the troops in Los Angeles, who can blame them both for getting caught up in the moment and kissing goodbye.
In the 1940’s firebrand, Martha Brand was an aspiring actress who dabbled in a few small movie roles, before getting her big break in RKO films like Li’l Abner and Paramount’s Reap the Wild Wind. It seems she also had a penchant for men in uniform, especially after this photo, as she went on to marry a Lieutenant in 1943.
A Civil Introduction
This awesome photo deserves a prime position in history for quite a few reasons. The photo was captured in 1914 and depicts a small French boy introducing himself to some brave Indian soldiers. In fact, not many history teachers will mention the fact that the Indian Soldiers arrived In Marseilles, in France in 1914 to help fight alongside French and British Forces.
This photo is another unusual and touching image which is not usually circulated from the Great War. In fact, many books don’t pay too much tribute to the Indian Corps who joined together with the British and traveled to France to help protect the Western Front for four years. But as they say, a picture speaks a thousand words.
This poignant image captures the exact moment when this brave soldier returned home to greet his loved ones in the 1940s. We can only imagine the pure rush of emotions and moment of glee this soldier felt. We’re sure he had been dreaming of the moment for a long time as he scooped up his beau into his arms and held her in the warmest embrace.
While war can be hugely tragic, with plenty of lows, it can also make everyone appreciate the highs even more. We’re pretty sure that this soldier and his beau were overjoyed at the fact that they were reunited in each other’s arms. And now they could finally look forward to building a future together.
The Sweetest Kiss
Sometimes the sweetest moments can happen in the most unlikely places. This is exactly one of those times. This raw photo was taken in the rubble in 1945 when the cutest French girl gave this American soldier the sweetest kiss, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
In 1945, when the end of the war was in sight, the Allied Forces were operating France to try and defeat the Nazis, and others were bombing Dresden in Germany. This little French girl looks overjoyed and grateful that the US soldiers have arrived to help save the day.
A Sailor’s Kiss
This iconic photo became symbolic for World War II a few reasons. The image was captured in 1945 in New York’s Times Square and shows a sailor spinning a nurse around in the most romantic gesture and kissing her in the middle of the street. Soon enough, this photo became an iconic symbol circulated throughout the world for the End of World War II.
Interestingly, the story behind this kiss was a little more down to chance, than a romantic love story, but don’t let that distract you from the moment. It was actually taken at the end of World War II when Greta Zimmerman was working as a dental assistant when a soldier simply spun her around and planted a huge kiss on her. Well, that’s one way of celebrating!
Sometimes soldiers have all the luck. We mean, they get to jet off to faraway places like Australia and hang out with their pet kangaroos. Well as a matter of fact, if you were an American soldier in 1942, then traveling to Australia wasn’t the worse place to be stationed.
While some US soldiers were waiting in Allied bases to be deployed to other areas, they got the chance to make friends with the local wildlife. We’re sure they also had their fair share of challenges like other soldiers, but having a kangaroo pet might have provided a little light relief.
Brand New Shoes
This photo of an Austrian boy receiving some brand new shoes during World War II is special for a few reasons. The main reason is that during the war, most normal household items were rationed and in scarce supply. This included shoes, clothes, and food. So this little boy couldn’t just pop out to the shop to buy new shoes when they got scuffed.
During the war, throughout the world, most people despite their class or status had to forgo their extravagant items and live on rations like everyone else. So when this small boy in Austria was given some brand new shoes, it was a big deal. It might have even been the best thing to happen to him that week or even that year.
A French kiss
When the US troops landed in France in 1944 to help liberate Paris, it seems they were a major hit with the locals. This romantic photo was taken in Paris and shows an American soldier leaning out of his army vehicle to plant an unforgettable kiss on a French lady on a bicycle.
Since Germany had occupied France for four years with an iron grip, the French would have been overjoyed when the US Allied Forces arrived to help liberate them. In August 1944 Paris was finally taken back from the Germans and they all celebrated with parades on the street. So now we totally get why the American soldiers were so loved in France.
Another Epic Goodbye Kiss
We’re beginning to see a trend forming with wars and iconic kisses. And this kind of epic upside-down kiss hanging from a train is just the kind of goodbye kiss we would expect to help send off the troops to another war. The photo was in fact taken in 1950 in Los Angeles when the troops were about to venture to Korea to help fight in the Korean War.
As you can imagine, this kiss attracted a great deal of media attention. At that time the Korean War was just starting, and we can imagine this photo was just the kind of morale-raising photo they needed before setting off to battle.
Raising A Few Eyebrows
Although there seems to be a big theme with soldiers and locals kissing at every opportunity both before, during and after the war, some kisses raised a few more eyebrows than others. This photo was taken in 1944 when an American soldier sitting on a tank was kissing a French woman.
When the US and Allied Forces traveled to France to help liberate it, some soldiers were seen as heroes in the eyes of French girls. Still, there were a few rules as Americans were actually ordered not to fraternize with the locals. So when this photo appeared in Life Magazine, it caused a little stir. Still, these people also prove that even wars can’t get in the way of the world’s greatest love stories.
War is often very distracting, with explosions going off in a distance, tight schedules for long missions, and the memories of home constantly running through your mind. So it’s amazing that this young soldier took the time away from all of this to tend to this tiny little songbird.
Judging by the Medic sign on this soldier’s helmet, we’re sure he has helped a few civilians and soldiers on the field. Still, it’s heartwarming to see that he still saved some time to help the birds and animals too. We wonder just how many birds this medic helped on the field!
A Water Pistol Reunion
If you’ve just completed a military tour with the Navy and returned home to your family, we’re pretty sure the last thing you’d expect to be greeted by is a water pistol. Still, this young Navy man got just that kind of reception. When he returned and scooped his sister in his arms, his brother-in-law simply laughed and pointed a water pistol at him!
As this photo shows, when military servicemen return back from serving their countries, not everything has to be so serious. In fact, the best way to integrate back into their normal lives is to be greeted by their families in the most heart-warming, ordinary or comical way possible.
This touching photo shows the animal-loving side of military life. It was taken in 1945 when these Russian soldiers had just liberated Prague. The battle lasted almost a week and we’re pretty sure they were exhausted after this and a World War. So when this adorable puppy dived in to curl up with them for a snooze, not even these soldiers could resist.
After liberating the city of Prague with the Allied soldiers, we’re sure these soldiers fought a brave fight. And they probably deserved to sleep for a week for all their efforts. We’re just wondering if more puppies ended up joining them for a nap before their Officer caught them sleeping on the job.
A Dangerous Liaison
Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss. But during wartime, a kiss can be so iconic that people will risk their lives and bend over backward or forwards over the railings to kiss their loved ones. This image was captured in 1940, and this British Soldier had just returned from fighting in World War II.
Evidently, this woman was overjoyed to see her lover return, that she couldn’t wait for the train to even stop. It’s only in hindsight that we know that this was just the beginning of the war and the soldier had only been fighting for only four months. Still, at that point, they all felt optimistic that they were on their way to victory, and no one can deny that that is one great smooch.
A Stroll through the Park
This photo was taken after World War II in 1945 when most soldiers could finally return to their loved ones and get back to their regular, civilian lives. So this image of a GI and his gal taking a romantic stroll through the park is just the reminder we need that even after a war, life goes on.
This photo is pretty symbolic, as having the chance to walk through the park in Kensington Park, London, with a girl on your arm, surrounded by sheep is exactly what these soldiers have been fighting for. After the war, comes freedom and life might just seem like a walk in a park again.
A Wild Ride
As you may have noticed by now, sometimes soldiers don’t play by the rules. And this US soldier in 1946 was living life on the edge for a few reasons. Firstly, it was actually forbidden to fraternize with the locals, but this soldier didn’t let that get in the way of enjoying a romantic bike ride with a Japanese girl.
When this photo was published in Life magazine, it actually caused a stir for another reason as well. The reason was that it was taken in Japan, which has plenty of laws related to bicycles. So since these lovebirds didn’t have both their hands on the handlebars, they were pretty much rebels in their time.
Sharing Is Caring
This touching photo was taken in 1944 when the Pacific campaign caused the US troops to travel to the Spanish island of Mariana in the South Pacific. Still, despite the fact that this US soldier is sitting in a trench, surrounded by rough terrain, and probably on food rations, he still took the time to share his banana with this little goat.
In 1944, the military campaign in the South Pacific was pretty monumental and the battle resulted in many losses on both sides. Still, it’s touching moments like these, when little acts of kindness happen on the field, that makes everything worth it!
Ain’t Love Grand?
These photos are beautiful reminders that behind every battle, there is a soldier with life back home and lovers and families waiting to greet them. So when this US soldier returned home from the War in 1945, this is just a little reminder that he was probably dreaming of the day he would be reunited with his loved one.
The photo was captured in Connecticut in a Train Station just after the war. During the war, 16 million Americans had embarked on tours overseas and some families and couples hadn’t seen their loved ones for a few years. So while they say absence makes the heart grow stronger, we can see why there are so many iconic war kisses.
Roller Skating Honey’s
When you finally fall head over heels in love with your soldier, why go for a romantic stroll when you can skate into love. This is exactly what this young woman did when she went for a roll with her soldier in the 1940s.
Even during wartime, we’re glad people still took the time to fall in love and pursue their hobbies, like roller skating. Well in the 1940s, roller skating was taking America by storm and we’re glad that despite the events going on around her, this gal still grabbed to chance to follow her skating dreams.
The Cutest Recruit
This little piggy recruit might just be the most adorable soldier we’ve ever seen. It was taken during World War II when this young soldier enlisted the help of a little pig and honored it with its own helmet. Whilst we’re not sure how useful the pig would have been in battle, it sure does look cute.
It seems that when soldiers are far away from home and their loved ones, they can find comfort in the cutest places. So we can totally understand why many soldiers befriend kangaroos, goats, and even pigs.
A Worthy Medal
Sometimes in these photos, we are reminded that not every soldier makes it out of the battle unscathed. War can be brutal, senseless, but can sometimes inspire the most heroic acts of bravery. So when this World War II veteran Ralph Neppel arrived in a wheelchair to receive his medal in 1945, he completely deserved it.
Ralph George Neppel actually received the Medal of Honor after serving in the Battle of the Bulge. After his leg was severed by fire from the Germans, he was brave enough to stay at his post during the battle. What’s more, he helped destroy the German reserves who were still battling against American forces. So when his fiancé Jean Moore kneels and kisses him in this picture, it makes it even more iconic.
A Teary Goodbye
This poignant photo shows the other side of war, and how hard and emotional it must have been to say goodbye to your loved ones. The image was captured in 1943 when this woman was bidding farewell to her lover at New York’s Penn Station.
This image helps us all gain more a glimpse into the effects on every relationship during a war. We’re pretty sure that most soldiers would shed a tear at being separated from their loved ones and going off to fight. It also reminds us that they are willing to sacrifice so much for their country, making them even more heroic in our eyes.
One Last Kiss
This epic photo was snapped just before some American soldiers were being deployed to Egypt in 1963. As you can see, not just one soldier was caught up in a goodbye kiss from their ship, but every soldier couldn’t wait to pop their head out of the porthole to steal one last kiss from their lovers.
To put this iconic photo into context, it was captured while the Vietnam War was still going on. However, these soldiers were being deployed on a sunnier mission, to the Egyptian desert. However, this was no desert vacation. The US soldiers were headed to Egypt to watch over the North Yemen Civil war, which was being fought between Egypt and the Yemen Arab Republic.
Cutting Loose In Vietnam
This goofy photo was captured in the midst of the Vietnam War. It reminds us all that even during times of war and chaos, sometimes even soldiers need to let off a little steam. Well, fighting can be frightening, so we can totally understand why this soldier found it hilarious to search for treasures in his pal’s nose.
Since many soldiers are enlisted into the armed forces as young as 18, many of them are still young and need to cut loose so often. Many soldiers also develop a special relationship with their fellow soldiers and have a sense of comradery. We’re also glad to see that even in wartime, soldiers can still have a big sense of humor.
A Taste of Freedom
This photo depicts the moment this prisoner of war was reunited with his family. Throughout World War II, Gunner Hector Morgan had spent most of his time as a war prisoner in Singapore. After his release, he has finally reunited with his family again and they were introduced to prefab housing in Tulse Hill.
It’s almost impossible to completely understand what it must be like to be released from prison, especially after being a prisoner of war. But in this photo, we can gain a little glimpse of the sense of relief and joy he must have felt after meeting his wife and son again.
An American Connection
This adorable photo of an American soldier canoodling with his British girlfriend in Hyde Park highlights another aspect of WWII. During the war, many American troops arrived in England and were seen as heroes in the eyes of many British women. So naturally, many relationships formed.
With their alluring accent, larger salaries and appetite for fun, many US soldiers attracted the attention of many British women. In fact, it was later reported that almost 70,000 British women married American soldiers. So in spite of their differences, in times of war, it often fosters relationships between different cultures.
Times of Change
In 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, everything changed for the lives of the US people. Although America had previously stayed on the sidelines of the war, after this monumental attack, every American was called up to help the war effort. So while many young men were called up for basic training, this meant they still had to say goodbye to their loved ones.
While some American soldiers might have still been optimistic at this point, and convinced that they would return heroes, they still had to pack up and leave. So this photo portrays the sense of emotions that everyone felt. While some were putting on a brave face, others were saying an emotional goodbye.
The Coolest Guard Dog
In our humble opinion, this elite dog could easily win an award for being one of the coolest service dogs we’ve ever seen. Not only is he trained and ready for duty, but this dog seems more than happy to don some sunglasses, helmet and carry a rifle for the photo.
While many brave men and women were enlisted during World War II, there were also some other brave canines, who were also prepped and ready for duty. Whilst these elite dogs were trained for service at the Remount Branch of the Quartermaster Corps, they also provided pretty cool best friends and mascots for the US troops.
Sharing is Caring
Even though countries may be at war, this poignant photo taken in 1944, shows that many soldiers still take time out of their duties to help out the locals. Here you can see a US Marine, who stopped to talk with some local children on the Mariana Islands and share some of his food and water with them.
During the war, many US troops were deployed to Japan. This photo was taken during the Battle of Saipan on the Mariana Islands. At that time the US troops were attempting to take hold of one of Japan’s most critical bases. While an intense battle ensued, many of the locals suffered, so these American marines still took the time to help them.
Women at Work
Here you can see some of these women taking a work break during the 1940s. It reminds us that one of the other consequences of World War II, is that many US women were also called to help with the war efforts too. So while the troops were away, many women were plunged into the world of work for the first time.
Although before the war, it was usual for women to be homemakers, in the 1940s, many women picked up the slack at factories to help manufacture products for the war effort. By 1943, over 300,000 women were called up to work in the U.S. aircraft industry. By 1945, it was recorded that one in four women worked in the US airforce, which was a massive jump.
As this photo will testify, one of the greatest upshots of winning a war is that you have every excuse to celebrate and party like there’s no tomorrow. This iconic photo was taken in 1945 when the end of the war was announced. And we can totally forgive these US navy men from passing out on the street after a heavy night of celebrating.
After years of fighting, when the end of WWII was announced, every news broadcaster across the country simply published the paper with the headline ‘PEACE’. As the excitement grew, there was no better way to celebrate than with parades and parties in every town. So understandably, these two servicemen look a little hammered after a heavy night celebrating.
Saving the Day
During the 1940s, London was in the midst of the blitz and German fighter planes were pounding the city with bombs. This photo was taken in the East End of London after another air raid. As you can see, the scene is filled with rubble. Thankfully though, this brave man managed to save a dog from the scene of the wreckage.
During the war, the people of London tried to blackout their windows to try to prevent the Germans from seeing where to bomb. They also had to hide in air raid shelters. Still, as this photo reminds us, while there is a human cost to war, many animals suffered too. Thankfully, this dog was saved from the rubble and lived to play another game of fetch.
The British Spirit
Although the Germans tried to destroy London during the blitz in WWII, there was one important element that they couldn’t break. That was the British spirit. In fact, during that time, while many Brits spent most of their times in air raid shelters, it became a mini-block party for some Londoners.
There is something to say for the British communal spirit during the war. While many knew just how serious the situation, it brought about a sense of community like no other. Many didn’t let the bombing get them down and chose to make the most of their time in the shelters. It’s heartwarming to see that there are moments of light in the darkest situations.