Armed Forces Radio Services (AFRS) World War 2

Der Bingle The Armed Forces Radio Services had its roots in the early days of World War II as American troops were dispersing throughout the globe. These troops had grown up listening to Bing Crosby and Jack Benny on the radio, and their notions of "morale" demanded more than harmonicas and baseballs.

As early as 1940 the War Department was using short-wave radio broadcasts to inform and educate Americans overseas. In 1941 entertainment was added the mix. Departing troops were issued "B" kits ("B" for "Buddy") that consisted of radios, phonographs, 10-inch shellac 78-rpm phonograph records and 16-inch 33-rpm transcription discs of popular radio shows. Within 3 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the War Department began producing original variety shows to beef-up troop morale beginning with "Command Performance."

The Armed Forces Radio Services was formally established 26 May 1942 to generate additional programming for the troops. Initially AFRS programming included mostly transcribed commercial network radio shows such as the Kraft Music Hall with the commercials removed. Soon numerous original AFRS programs such as Mail Call were added to the mix. At its peak in 1945 the AFRS was generating about 20 hours of original programming each week. The AFRS could command the services of the best writers and performers without regard to their network or studio contractual obligations. It was on Command Performance, for example, that baritone Bing Crosby was paired in song with tenor Richard Crookes. And the AFRS got these services for free.

The first original product of the AFRS was Mail Call. Other popular shows included "G.I. Journal," "Jubilee," which featured mostly black entertainers, and "G.I. Jive."

The following is a partial list of the Armed Forces Radio broadcasts made by Bing Crosby during the 1940s. Most frequently he appeared on Command Peformance, GI Journal or Mail Call. Unlike network programming in the States, AFRS programs were recorded for later broadcast, and only the dates of their recording are indicated below. These original programs were broadcast to the troops overseas, and usually were not heard by Americans at home. Contents are listed where they are known. If you know the contents of any of these broadcasts email them to me and I will add them to the list.

COMMAND PERFORMANCE USA!

Command Performance was widely considered the best of all the original AFRS programs. The first Command Performance was recorded 1 March 1942 and was broadcast overseas via shortwave by 11 stations one week later. Most of the programs were recorded ("transcribed") in Hollywood. During the War each program began "Command Performance USA ... coming to you this week and every week until it's over, over there." The theme song was George M. Cohan's "Over There." Initially Command Performance was produced by the Radio Division of the War Department's Bureau of Public Relations. The AFRS took control of the show in December of 1942. Original productions continued until 1949. Dinah Shore made the most appearances on Command Performance with 35, Bing was second with 29 and Bob Hope was third with 26. Ken Carpenter was the most frequent announcer. Bing sings each listed song unless otherwise indicated.

Starring Bing Crosby:

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #17 (6-11-42) hosted by Don Ameche
1. Johnny Doughboy

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #30 (8-30-42) w Kay Kyser Orchestra
(From a performance at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.)
1. My Darling Clementine
2. Stardust

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #31 (8-30-42) w James Cagney, Connee Boswell, Bert Wheeler, Kay Kyser
(From a performance at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.)
1. I Can't Give You Anything But Love (Connee Boswell)
2. Clementine
3. Give Our Regards to Broadway (w James Cagney)
4. Down by the Old Millstream (w Cagney)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #36 (10-13-42) w Dinah Shore, Mary Martin
1. You are my Sunshine
2. Oh, Do It Again (Mary Martin)
3. Wait Til the Sun Shines Nellie (w Mary Martin)
4. Ride, Red, Ride (Charioteers)
5. I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo (Dinah Shore)
6. Stardust

COMMAND PERFORMANCE -- not numbered (12-24-42)
1. Pennsylvania Polka (Andrews Sisters)
2. Jingle Bells (Spike Jones)
3. Saving Myself for Bill (Ginny Simms)
4. Basin Street Blues (Bing Crosby)
5. Dinah (Ethel Waters)
6. Praise the Lord (Kay Kyser)
7. Why Don't You Fall in Love with Me? (Dinah Shore)
8. Friendship (Jack Benny, Fred Allen)
9. Star Spangled Banner (orchestra and chorus)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #44 (12-28-42) w Bob Hope, Kay Kyser
(This was the last program produced by the Bureau of Public Relations.)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #52 (2-13-43) w Richard Crookes
1. Abraham
2. Miss You
3. Ave Maria (Crookes)
4. Camptown Races (w Crookes)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #54 (2-24-43) w Dinah Shore, Bob Hope
1. Moonlight Becomes You (Dinah Shore)
2. It's a Long Way to Tipperary (w Shore)
3. You are my Sunshine

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #60 (4-1-43) w Dinah Shore, Bob Burns
1. Great Day (Bing)
2. Taking a chance on love (Shore)
3. There are smiles (Burns)
4. Were you there? (Charioteers)
5. Easter Parade (Bing and Dinah)
6. As time goes by (Bing)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #71 (6-19-43) w D. Shore, Vaughn Monroe, Mel Blanc,
Fanny Brice (as "Baby Snooks")
1. I don't want anyone at all (Dinah Shore)
2. When I grow up (Vaughn Monroe orchestra)
3. It can't be wrong (Bing)
4. Baby Snooks sketch
5. Lets get lost (Vaughn Monroe)
6. Summertime (Dinah and Bing)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #75 (7-11-43) w Betty Grable, Arthur Rubinstein,
Harry James, Helen Forrest, Leo "Ukie" Sherin, Trudy Erwin
1. Wait for Me, Mary (w Trudy Erwin)
2. I Never Mention Your Name

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #81 (8-28-43) w Judy Garland, Kay Kyser, Jimmy Durante
1. Embraceable you / The man I love (JG)
2. Ma, he's making eyes at me (KK and vocalists)
3. Sunday, Monday or always (BC)
4. Comedy (JG / BC)
5. Ink-a-dink (JD)
6. Medley with special lyrics:
   You made me love you (BC), I remember you (JG),
   That old black magic (JG/BC), I'm always chasing rainbows (BC),
   Over the rainbow (JG), Moonlight becomes you (BC)
   Why don't you do right (JG), This love of mine (BC)
   You'd be so nice to come home to (JG), It's three o'clock (BC),
   Where the blue of the night (JG), I ain't got nobody (JG),
   It's a great day for the Irish (JG)
7. People will say we're in love (JG/BC)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #86 (10-25-43) w Bob Hope, Francis Langford,
Tony Romano
1. You'll never know (Frances Langford)
2. Pistol Packin Mama (Charioteers)
3. Priceless (Tony Romano)
4. Moonlight bay (Bing w Charioteers)
5. These foolish things (Bing w Langford)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #97 (12-18-43) w Dinah Shore, Skinnay Ennis, Leo "Ukie" Sherin
1. Basin Street Blues
2. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning (w Shore)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #104 (2-1-44) w Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore
1. Blues in the night (Dinah Shore)
2. Speak low (Frank Sinatra)
3. Candlelight and Wine (Crosby)
4. Sinatra/Crosby medley

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #115 (4-15-44) w Yehudi Menuhin, Dinah Shore, Shirley Mitchell, Lulu Belle and Scotty
1. Mexicali Rose
2. Sunday, Monday or Always (Mitchell)
3. It's Love, Love, Love (Shore)
4. Dancing in the Dark (w Shore)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #118 (5-6-44) w Bob Hope, Betty Hutton, Gypsie Rose Lee
1. Swinging on a Star (Crosby)
2. Pigfoot Pete (Hutton)
3. Long Ago, Far Away (Crosby)
4. A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody (Crosby)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #122 (6-3-44) w Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope
1. Dixieland band (Garland)
2. I love you (Crosby)
3. All the things you are (Sinatra)
4. You're the top (Crosby, Sinatra, Hope)
5. Something to remember you by (Crosby and Garland)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #123 (6-3-44) w Connie Haines, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna
1. If I Had My Way (Bing, Frank, Bob)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #125 (6-17-44) w Jack Benny, G Cooper, Harpo Marx, Georgia Gibbs
1. You Must've Been a Beautiful Baby (Crosby)
2. Stormy Weather (Georgia Gibbs)
3. Blue Heaven (Crosby)
4. One Alone (Crosby)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #129 (7-15-44) w Crosby, Andrews Sisters, Judy Garland
1. Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby? (Crosby with Andrews Sisters)
2. Long Ago, Far Away (Garland)
3. I'll Remember April (Crosby)
4. All Time Flop Parade (Crosby, Garland & Andrews Sisters)
5. Medley (Crosby & Garland)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #142 (10-14-44) w Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, Danny Kaye, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Andrews Sisters
(This program was assembled from previous shows.)
1. Life's Full of Consequences (Lena Horne, Rochester)
2. Lydia, the tatooed lady (Groucho)
3. Going My Way (Crosby)
4. Dena (Danny Kaye)
5. All time flop parade (Crosby, Garland, Andrews Sisters)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #154 (12-16-44) w Bob Hope, Lauren Bacall,
Andrews Sisters, Stan Kenton, Anita O'Day
1. Rum and Coca Cola (Andrews Sisters)
2. More and More
3. Don't Fence Me In (w Andrews Sisters)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #155 (12-16-44) w Bob Hope, Andrews Sisters,
Ann Sheridan, Benny Goodman, Bill Mauldin
1. Accentuate the Positive
2. More and More
3. Put it there, Pal (w Hope)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #160 (2-1-45) w Gloria DeHaven, Jack Carson,
Carmen Miranda
1. An Irish Lullaby
COMMAND PERFORMANCE #162 (2-15-45) "DICK TRACY IN B-FLAT"
The greatest stars in Hollywood came down from the hills to participate in the first cartoon operetta. It's director, Pat Weaver, called the final product "the greatest radio show in history." Yet, except for the live Hollywood audience, no Americans in the States heard the broadcast. The show was transmitted exclusively over the Armed Forces Radio Network to the troops overseas. The all-star cast included Bing Crosby as Dick Tracy, along with Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante, The Andrews Sisters, Dinah Shore, Jerry Colonna, Frank Morgan, Cass Daley and Harry Von Zell.
COMMAND PERFORMANCE #165 (3-8-45) w Frank Sinatra, Frances Langford,
Liz Taylor, Roddy McDowell, Margaret O'Brien, Bing Crosby's 4 Boys
1. The trolley song (Sinatra)
2. Our waltz (Langford)
3. Brahm's lullaby (Sinatra)
4. Where the blue of the night / Sunday, Monday, Always (Gary Crosby)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #169 (4-5-45) w Johnny Mercer, Marilyn Maxwell,
Lionel Barrymore, Dame May Whitty
1. This Heart of Mine
2. Mr Crosby and Mr Mercer (w Mercer)
3. Dear Old Girl
4. Fifth Marines

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #172 (4-26-45) w Jimmy Durante
1. My Dreams are Getting Better All the Time
2. A Little on the Lonely Side
3. After Awhile

COMMAND PERFORMANCE #182 (7-5-45) w Tommy Dorsey, Spike Jones
1. Sentimental Journey
2. Don't Fence Me In / Paper Doll / I'll Walk Alone
3. I'll Be Seeing You

COMMAND PERFORMANCE VICTORY EXTRA (8-14-45)
1. I'll walk alone (Dinah Shore)
2. You'd be so nice to come home to (Ginny Simms)
3. You're the top (Sinatra-Crosby)
4. The House I Live In (Sinatra)
5. San Fernando Valley (Crosby)
6. GI Jive (Johnny Mercer)
7. White Christmas (Crosby)

COMMAND PERFORMANCE (4-6-46) - Army Day
Bob Hope: comedy
Diana Shore: Shoo Fly Pie
Bette Davis sketch with Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, CROSBY, and Sinatra.
Frank Sinatra: Oh, What It Seemed to Be
Sinatra, CROSBY, Hope: You're the Top (parody)
Spike Jones: You Always Hurt the One You Love
Andrews Sisters: Chickery Chick
Bob and BING introduce Chief of Staff, US War Dept.
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower: message
Medley: Chorus: Aura Lee
        Sinatra: What Do You Do in the Infantry?
        Dinah: This Is the Army, Mr. Jones
        BING: Caisson Song

M A I L C A L L ! "A letter from home."
MAIL CALL made its debut 11 August 1942.

Starring Bing Crosby:

MAIL CALL #11 (11-4-42) w Fred Astaire, Fibber McGee and Molly
1. I'll Capture Her Heart (w Astaire)
2. White Christmas
3. Easy to Dance With (Fred Astaire)
4. Abraham
5. Hit the Leather (w Fibber McGee and Molly)

MAIL CALL #21 (1-20-43) w Alice Faye, Tommy Dorsey, Cesar Romero, Chet Huntley
MAIL CALL #54 (9-2-43) w Ben Lyon, Robert Benchley, Merry Macs

MAIL CALL #61 (10-20-43) w Frank Morgan, John Conte, John Brownlee, Nora Martin
1. MacNamara's Band
2. White Christmas

MAIL CALL #73 (1-12-44) w Dorothy Lamour, Skinnay Ennis, Jerry Colonna
1. San Fernando Valley
2. It Could Happen to You (Dorothy Lamour)
3. Iowa
4. I Love Life (Jerry Colonna)
5. Something to Remember You By (w Dorothy Lamour)

MAIL CALL #78 (2-16-44) w Richard Crookes, Connie Boswell, Les Paul
1. My Ideal
2. Timber (w Richard Crookes)
3. You are My Sunshine (w Richard Crookes)
4. Begin the Beguine (Les Paul Trio)
5. Between 18th and 19th on Chestnut Street

MAIL CALL #91 (5-17-44) w Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante, Arthur Treacher
1. The Trolley Song (Garland)
2. It's Love, Love, Love (Crosby)
3. Can Do, Will Do (Garland)
4. Amor (Crosby)
5. Groaner, Canary and the Nose (Crosby, Garland, Durante, Treacher)

MAIL CALL #102 (7-26-44) w Harry Owen, Connie Haines, Betty Grable, Les Paul Trio
1. Hello Hawaii
2. Blue Hawaii (w Haines)
3. Sweet Leilani

MAIL CALL #120 (11-22-44) w Rise Stevens, Gary Moore, Andrews Sisters
1. Accentuate the Positive
2. Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby (w Andrews Sisters)
3. The Day After Forever
4. We're Going In

MAIL CALL #122 (12-6-44) w Betty Grable, Bob Hope, Humphrey Bogart, Jo Stafford
Bing walks on to deliver a rope to hang Hope.

MAIL CALL #128 (1-24-45) w Martha Mears, Cass Daley, Lauritz Melchior
1. Accentuate the Positive
2. More and More
3. One Meat Ball (w Melchior)

MAIL CALL #138 (3-28-45) w Bette Davis, Barry Fitzgerald, Leo McCarey,
Jack Benny, William Frawley
1. Swinging on a Star
2. You Belong to My Heart
3. Too Ral Loo Ral
4. Ida (w William Frawley)

MAIL CALL #154 (7-18-45) w Johnny Mercer, Marilyn Maxwell
1. Along the Navajo Trail
2. Small Fry (w Mercer)
3. Mr Crosby and Mr Mercer (w Mercer)

GI JOURNAL! "The newspaper of the AEF."
The first GI JOURNAL was recorded in Hollywood 29 June 1943.

Starring Bing Crosby:

GI JOURNAL #8, #9, #10, #11 (Sept. 1943) w Rochester, Mel Blanc,
Jimmy Durante, Jerry Colonna, Linda Darnell

GI JOURNAL #12 (10-9-43) w Jerry Colonna, Ish Kabibble, Georgia Carroll
1. Thank Your Lucky Stars
2. Poinciana
3. Victory Polka
4. Bicycle Built for Two

GI JOURNAL #13 (10-15-43) w Mel Blanc

GI JOURNAL #20 (12-11-43) w Rochester, Linda Darnell, Anita Ellis
1. Paper Doll
2. How Sweet You Are
3. The Dreamer (Anita)
4. Put Your Arms Around Me
5. McNamara's Band
6. Harvest Moon (group)

GI JOURNAL #31 (2-18-44) w Linda Darnell, Gloria DeHaven, Ransom Sherman,
Rochester, Mel Blanc
1. Iowa
2. September Song
3. I've Got a Crush on You (DeHaven)
4. After You've Gone
5. I Want a Girl Like the Girl that Married Dad

GI JOURNAL #33 (3-3-44) w Hedda Hopper, Andy Devine, Mel Blanc
1. Shoo Shoo Baby
2. Paper Moon
3. I Can't Get Started (Anita Ellis)
4. My Ideal
5. Back Home in Indiana

GI JOURNAL #41 (4-28-44) w Jerry Colonna, Judy Garland, Mel Blanc
1. Sunday
2. The One I Love
3. People Will Say We're in Love (w Judy Garland)
4. You Tell Me Your Dream (Crosby, Garland & Audience)
5. I'll Be Seeing You

GI JOURNAL #44 (5-19-44) w Jerry Colonna, Mel Blanc
1. Great Day
2. Long Ago and Far Away
3. Swinging on a Star
4. Sweetheart of Sigma Kai (group sing with Colonna)

GI JOURNAL #48 (6-16-44) w Lena Horne, Mel Blanc, Henny Youngman
1. Bless em all
2. September song
3. Day after forever
4. Honeysuckle Rose (Horne)
5. Girl of my dreams

GI JOURNAL #52 (7-14-44) w Linda Darnell, Helen Forrest, Andy Devine
1. Snoquolomi Jo
2. I'll Get By
3. The Man I Love (Helen Forest)
4. Stuttering skit
5. My Merry Oldsmobile (Crosby and audience)

GI JOURNAL #53 (7-21-44) w Peter Lorre, Lynn Bari, Jo Stafford
1. Bombardier Song
2. I'll Remember April
3. Love is Just Around the Corner (Jo Staffard)
4. Down By the old Mill Stream (group)

GI JOURNAL #69 (11-17-44) w Joan Blondell, Jimmy Durante, Pat Friday
1. Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?
2. Too Ra Loo Ral
3. There's A Long, Long Trail (Crosby & Audience)

GI JOURNAL #86 (3-16-45) w Marilyn Maxwell, Allen Jenkins
1. You Belong to My Heart
2. You Made Me Love You
3. Beautiful Love
4. In the Good Old Summertime (w Maxwell)

GI JOURNAL #94 (5-11-45) w Mel Blanc, Andy Devine

GI JOURNAL #105 (7-31-45) w Frank Sinatra, Claudette Colbert, Mel Blanc
1. After you've gone (Crosby)
2. Good, good, good (Sinatra)
3. Madamoiselle from Armentiers (Crosby, Sinatra, Colbert)
4. Dream (Crosby)

FDR MEMORIAL (4-15-45)
Ronald Coleman; Battle Hymn of Republic - John Charles
Thomas; Home on the Range; Fibber McGee and Molly; Kay
Kyser; Serenade for Strings; Song of the Sea - Dick Powell;
James Cagney; Eddie Cantor; Amos and Andy; Ave Maria -
Deanna Durbin; Will Hayes; Ken Carpenter; Shirley Ross;
Betty Davis/Robert Young; Jack Benny; Oh, Beautiful -
Shirley Ross; Hall Perry; Ronald Coleman; Edgar Bergen;
Brahms Lullaby, Faith of Our Fathers - Bing Crosby;
Bob Hope, Bing Crosby; Ingrid Bergman; Star Spangled Banner

V.J. DAY (9-2-45) hosted by BING CROSBY
1. America the Beautiful (Dinah Shore)
2. Bob Hope reads Ernie Pyle
3. The House I Live In (Sinatra)
4. We Gather Together (Frances Langford)
5. Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief
6. White Xmas (Crosby)
References:
  • Command Performance USA! A Discography compiled by Harry MacKenzie, Greenwood Press, 1996.
  • Brass Button Broadcasters by Trent Christman, Turner Publishing, 1992.

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