Woodsmen use pikes to guide the logs. Public domain / mediadrumworld.com

By Mark McConville

STUNNING pictures have revealed the weather-worn faces of the lumberjacks tasked with collecting wood to support the war effort in World War Two.

80-year-old “Old George” Hill, who drives the camp’s horse and wagon. Public domain / mediadrumworld.com

Incredible images show the men in between tough shifts as some relax on the huge logs they are slicing and others use the logs at their dinner table to eat their packed lunch.

Spring pulpwood drive on the Brown Company timber holdings in Maine. Woodsmen relaxing after mid-afternoon lunch. Public domain / mediadrumworld.com

Other striking shots show the woodsmen in action as they use a winch to lift the logs, row a boat through the water to direct the logs while some even ride the logs themselves.

The black and white photographs were taken in May 1943 by Office of War Information photographer John Collier when he travelled to the timber holdings of the Brown Company in western Maine near the New Hampshire border.

A woodsman wearing spiked shoes opens up an empty boom at the upper end of Mooselookmeguntic Lake so it can be filled with more logs from the Kennebago River. Public domain / mediadrumworld.com

There, he camped out with woodsmen who were tasked with guiding thousands of heavy, slippery logs on the spring pulpwood drive down the Kennebago River and Mooselookmeguntic Lake toward distant pulp and paper mills.

Mr Collier also took portraits of the workers at rest as they happily posed for the camera while he also snapped the men playing poker.

Woodsmen playing cards in the bunk-house after thirteen hours of driving logs–the usual working day of the drive season. Public domain / mediadrumworld.com

The United States of America had entered WW2 after Japan bombed Pearl Harbour on December 7th 1941. The war wasn’t to end until 1945 so the procurement of this wood was vital to the war effort and keeping the country well supplied.

Wood for War had been produced in 1942. It was a 1942 colour short produced by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Pulpwood accumulated in the Kennebago River waiting to be sliced through the power dam. Public domain / mediadrumworld.com

The film explained the use of wood in the war, principally as replacements for items that Americans needed to go without. For instance, if all the steel forks, spoons and toiletries had to go, they could have wood replacements. If the military needed wool or cotton to make uniforms, wood could provide adequate clothing substitutes.

Spring pulpwood drive on the Brown Company timber holdings in Maine. French-Canadian woodsman. Public domain / mediadrumworld.com

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