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Martha Raye at Kircassock House, USO tour, December 1942

Martha Raye at Kircassock House, USO tour, December 1942

Marthe Raye photographed during her performance at Kircassock House, Headquarters for 8th Air Force Composite Command. The building is is probably the base theatre or a mess hall.

Arriving in Northern Ireland during December 1942 as part of the USO tour with Carole Landis and Kaye Francis, Martha Raye was notable for her long association with the American military.

Born 1916 at St. James Hospital in Butte, Montana, as Margy Reed, her father, Peter F. Reed Jr., was an Irish immigrant, while her mother, Maybelle Hazel (Hooper) Reed, was raised in Milwaukee and Montana. Her parents were performing in a local vaudeville theatre as "Reed and Hooper" when their daughter was born.Two days later, her mother was performing again. Martha first appeared in their act when she was three years old. She later performed with her brother "Bud", and the children became so popular that their parents’ act was renamed "Margie and Bud."

In the early 1930s, Raye was a band vocalist and made her first film appearance in 1934 in a band short titled A Nite in the Nite Club. In 1936, she was signed for comic roles by Paramount Pictures, and made her first picture for Paramount. Her first feature film was Rhythm on the Range with Bing Crosby.

From 1936–39, she was a featured cast member in 39 episodes of Al Jolson’s weekly CBS radio show. She joined the USO in 1942 and traveled overseas on Oct. 31, 1942 with actresses Carole Landis, Kay Francis and dancer Mitzi Mayfair to entertain troops in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and North Africa. The adventures of the four actresses was later written as a book by Carole Landis called “Four Jills in a Jeep” and was made into a musical film by 20th Century Fox. When Landis, Francis and Mayfair returned to the USA, Raye stayed behind to continue entertaining the troops eventually returning home imn March 1942 with a rank of honorary captain, after four and a half months overseas.

During WW2 her performances for the military were curtailed due to illness exhaustion and eventually in 1944 pregnancy. However Raye again entertained the military travelling to Korea in the summer of 1952, but it only lasted a few weeks due to illness. And again during the Vietnam War when she travelled overseas eight times from 1965 to 1972 for six months to a year per tour.

During Vietnam, the Army made her an honorary member of the Green Berets’ Special Forces and she was given an honorary rank of Army Lt. Col. The Marines made her a full Colonel. In 1969, she was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work with the military, and in 1993, she was recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

At her Fort Bragg funeral in October 1994, the Honor Guard from the 7th Special Forces Group Airborne served as pallbearers, the 82nd Airborne Division band performed and 300 soldiers and civilians were there to honor her.

Information sources:…

For further information on her time in the USO:

Posted by G.I N.I on 2018-06-24 12:31:25

Tagged: , Kircassock House , Northern Ireland , WW2 , USO , United Service Organizations , Martha Raye , 8th Air Force , 8th Air Force Composite Command , Composite Command , Nyack , 8AFCC , Magheralin

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