Private Snafu and his unclean tools of War

Making sure a soldier’s tools and weapons are clean and functioning are not a joke, his survival could obviously depend on them. However getting this message across to the troops without sounding completely draconian all the time can be tough. Thus we have satire and comedy. Certainly not a new way of conveying warnings, any currently serving Marine, Soldier, Sailor, or Airman can attest to the ridiculous lengths the DOD goes to present to us the perils of Cyber Awareness. But in World War Two, the War Department came up with Private Snafu (Situation Normal, All F**ked Up). A poor old private who just keeps breaking the rules and getting things wrong as an example to those in the service of what not to do as a soldier. A number of cartoon videos were produced, ranging from what not to say when out on Liberty, to how to act when an aerial attack is occurring. They were made with singing and rhyme, and the rhyming scheme actually isn’t too bad. However in this case, we have Private Snafu not taking care of any of his weapons, from his M1 Garand, to his M1917A1 water cooled machine gun, while confronting the evil Nazi aggressor in North Africa (these were made in 1943, and look to be concentrating on the North African front of operations, although some are oriented towards the PTO). I took some screen shots from the video, but I would highly recommend watching it, as it actually is a little funny, and filled with adult humor. For those diehard World War Two buffs out there, the entire cartoon series is available to watch on a 2 hour long video on Youtube.

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Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • In their cartoon, the headline is “U.S. Soldier Best Armed In The World”, while “Adolph Hitler Commits Suicide” is a tiny little blurb at the bottom. Lol.

    • Major Tom

      It seems we had a prophet on the production staff if that was made in 1943.

    • Brett

      Looks like they found that chaplain too.

  • CommonSense23

    Would be nice if the US military would start teaching people to maintain their rifle these days, but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon.

    • USMC03Vet

      The entire US military isn’t Jessica Lynch.

      • CommonSense23

        The vast majority of the military still doesn’t understand how to maintain a AR. Clean them so they can turn in the armory. Yeah. Actually maintain them. No.

        • Sianmink

          So long as the bolt tail is spotless, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t actually work.

        • politicsbyothermeans

          That’s probably true, since the vast majority of the military doesn’t pull triggers for a living. For those that do, I assure you that they know how to maintain their assigned weapon just fine.

          • CommonSense23

            No they don’t. Ask your average 11b or 0311 how many rounds they have put through their rifle since its been assigned to them. How to tell if their action springs needs replacing before malfunctions begin. Or check to see if they castle nut or carrier key is properly staked. Guys won’t have a clue. Instead the guys are taught to just clean it spotless, which is the least important part of AR maintenance.

          • Cymond

            Trigger pullers shouldn’t need to check their own staking. That’s the type of thing that should only need done once, not on a regular basis.

          • CommonSense23

            Why shouldn’t they. Its a pretty simple thing to check.

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            Hah. And you said that with a straight face, too. You obviously haven’t been on the same ranges I’ve been on. Saw an M4, back from A-stan, that hadn’t been cleaned for the duration.

            And let’s not talk about infantry marksmanship.

        • Phil Hsueh

          I think that’s because actual maintenance is supposed to be an armorer’s job, not the guy who’s issued the rifle. But it wouldn’t be that bad of an idea to teach basic maintenance to everybody in the infantry field since they’re more likely to use their rifles more and less likely to have them spend much time in the armory when actually deployed.

          • Old Vet

            Yes, it may be the only thing between you and an dirt nap at some point, so it had better work as engineered.

    • Old Vet

      I just read that the Marines are ditching the pull-thru cleaning system for the cleaning rods again. Smart move.

  • Bill

    I far prefer the Nam era hottie in the M16 comic book/manual.

    • Andrew Dubya

      I like to think of her as a young Mallory Archer.

      • Cymond

        Thanks, I really didn’t need that mental image.

    • Rock or Something

      When Military PM issues could get away with a lot more than today…

      • Bill

        We’d need a multicultural edition, one for the female troops, one for the LGBT troops, and one for the gender-fluid. I’m sure I left some group out.

        Reminds me of the line from The Big Lebowski; “He treats objects like women!”

  • STW

    I’ve a gun hating friend who served as a German translator in the US Army in WWII. He fired his Thompson one time after helping liberate a concentration camp. He claimed by the end of the war that the barrel was rusted closed. Did I mention he hated guns?

    • Bill

      I don’t care if he hates guns – if he fired it while liberating a concentration camp he’s aces in my book.

  • Jim

    I’ve seen several of these and they can be a hoot. I believe Warner Brothers made these and the voice sounds like Mel Blanc.

    • Cattoo

      No that was Bugs Bunny. ????? I had to say it.