Harry Milton Johnson
S/SGT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co C
Born 1912 in MD, Died 1973
County of enlistment: Baltimore, MD
Other residence(s): Baltimore, MD
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: commercial artists
Harry Johnson was born on May 21, 1912 in Baltimore, MD. His father was an iron foundry laborer around the time of Harry's birth, and later became a seaman. His mother died in the flu pandemic in 1918. His father eventually remarried (to a woman who had lost her husband in the same year and for the same reason) and had a second child, 10 years younger than Harry.
Harry had a grammar school education, and found work as a commercial artist. The 1930 census describes his profession as a commercial artist for a sanitary grocery. By 1940, he had his own commercial art studio. He also volunteered his time as a Scoutmaster.
He registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, and enlisted on May 25, 1942, finding a home—as did many other artists—in the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion. (The records are unclear, but he may have served in the Marines for about eight months before his Army service.) He was stationed in Europe with the unit, and was discharged with the rank of Staff SGT on October 12, 1945.
He seems to have been engaged before the war, and may have married (a photo of him in uniform shows him wearing a wedding ring). But in any case, the relationship didn't last through the end of the war.
After the war he returned to Baltimore and continued his work as a commercial artist--doing lettering and other design work for stores and other businesses. He was also a member of the VFW. In his spare time, he drew pictures of celebrities and sent the drawings to them.
His nephew, Gerry Johnson, reports that "he lived reclusively. He rented a house and lived simply. He didn't have any commitments and no money to match. He was clever and talented. He was adventuresome. But he didn't have a steady job or live a good life. He wasn't a drinker or a smoker; I don't know of any vices. But he won our hearts as children. It was a big deal when he visited. He loved us and we loved him. He was charming and socially attentive."
Harry died on August 31, 1973 and is buried at Baltimore City Cemetery. From nephew Gerry Johnson: "It gives me great pleasure to honor his war service because he probably really enjoyed the clandestine nature of his function and the purpose of his mission."
1940 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1973 VA death record
2021 (October 10) GALP Veteran Biography Worksheet from nephew Gerry Johnson.