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Payday in combat

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Class of '42, May 26, 2020.

  1. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    After my Dad passed away I came across one of his pay stubs dated 1945...a whopping $45 a month as an E-3 in a combat zone...so wondering how they got paid..in American cash?..script???? war bonds if so desired???..imagine if the combat was hot heavy..payday was on hold....was combat pay extra??? vs behind the lines peeling potatoes??..questions ..questions.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    We didn't circulate a lot of US currency in combat zones. About the only thing a GI could with cash would be to pay gambling debts or send it home.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Oh, and I got $0.47/hr after deductions for shooting people in 1970. But that was 24/7 so it was cool.
     
  4. Riter

    Riter Member

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    If they were in a war zone, they could be paid in occupation script. That is special currency designed for that theatre and may be exchanged on a 1:1 basis later for US dollars. Generally the script was denoted in dollar amounts. Soldier could also have some sent home to the family (parents or wife), some deducted for expenses (lost equipment through negligence) or insurance.

    Same thing happened during the Civl War. The Sutler (regimental store keeper who sold non military things like non government issued food stuff, cooking utensils like frying pans), etc. He stood by the paymaster, got dibs for what the soldier owed him and then soldier got the balance.
     
  5. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Read'em and weep. GI pay scale in WW2. I've read elsewhere the combat pay was an additional $50 a month. Not sure what sea duty was paid at though, or if more than one type of extra pay was authorized to one man. Regardless what the extra pay was, most of these guys were not making much or any money before the war due to the Great Depression. Once in uniform, they were getting not only paid, but three hots and a cot, medical treatment and work clothes too. Not bad.

    GI Intelligence Dept.

    United States Army enlisted rank insignia of World War II - Wikipedia

    My Dad said that they got paid in script in the Korean War.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  6. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I don't know what they were paid in, but my FIL was in the Finance Corps in the Pacific. He told me that they would deliver the pay by jeep. I think he said it was the only time he wore a sidearm. He was very proud of the fact that he never missed a payday and had to travel to various outfits. He was there for several years and wound up in Sendai Japan at war's end.
     
  7. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    No wonder the black market was thriving with that low pay..but maybe that should be for another thread???
     
  8. Riter

    Riter Member

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    Low pay? Remember, most soldiers were children of the Great Depression. Many never had so much money (and when at training camp, so much food).

    If anyone had low pay, it was the British. If there was anyone lower, it would be the Soviet soldier.

    But what good is money when you're about to be killed?

    Back on the subject of pay, a paratrooper got $50 extra per month to jump out of airplanes. Glider Troops didn't get that.
     
  9. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    The pay was great when considering what they just came through, the Great Depression. A private got $50 a month. A quick check with an inflation counter shows that amount to be equivalent to $795.46 in 2019. Like I said earlier, add to that free food (and plenty of it), a bed, a spot in the barracks, running water in the latrine (many people still didn't have running water or indoor bathroom in their house yet), medical care, issued work clothes, etc. Of course taxes were taken out, and each GI had to buy War Bonds, I think in the amount of $25.00 every payday, and many sent allotments home to the family which was well received since the terms of the Great Depression was not all the way done yet.

    My dad sent $100 a month home on an allotment to his Mom. The Army matched it at 100%. Not sure what the limit was in sending money home in allotments, or how much the Army would match, but that helped out things on the farm a great deal he said.

    And you mentioned the black market earlier too. There's always been the black market, even when the times are good. In this case it (during WW2) was driven mainly by rationing of items and it's long term effects as the war and the rationing program progressed.
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    "Invasion script" were paper script issued prior to landing in France IIRC 25 francs to the dollar. They were printed by the bank of England, again IIRC, on plates smuggled out of France, with "Liberation Script" overprinted on the bill. I still have the script he saved and took to France with us in 2000. A number of times he asked shopkeepers if they would accept it. ;)

    "Payday" while in theater was in dollars, but much of it was usually issued as an allotment to a designated next of kin in the Z/I. Dollars could be exchanged for invasion script if there was a chance to spend it on the economy, but that was usually by Garrettroopers until regular in-theater leave programs were instituted. ;) Using dollars on the economy was considered "black market". Otherwise, dollars could be spent on non-issue "comfort items" at the PX, which were fixed up as truck-based mobile exchanges in every division and at fixed bases and depots.
     
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  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    British pay was a fraction of American pay. American privates were paid like British lieutenants.

    The black market was also encouraged by the close proximity of rationed poor Brits and well paid US soldier with access to items unavailable to Britons - gasoline - nylon stockings - PX items. It was possible to arrange an exchange of goods for services.

    Americans: Over paid, oversexed and over here
    British: Under paid, under sexed and under Eisenhower.
     
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  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The War Bond was $18.75.
    The monthly Insurance premium was $6.50.

    That left $24.75. Not sure what the taxes were.
     
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  13. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Many places beer went for a nickel. At least that's the price I heard GIs bitchin' about in some of the old movies filmed during the war.
     

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