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Mem-O-Map of Japan and Korea

  • Author: DRURY, John G
  • Publisher: Mem-O-Map Co, USA
  • Date: 1946
  • Dimensions: Sheet: 26.5 x 35 cms


US veteran John G Drury’s pictorial “Mem-O-Map of Japan and Korea” [1946], a wartime memento for recently demobbed servicemen

About this piece:

Mem-O-Map of Japan and Korea

Printed Colour on thick card-like paper. Overall an attractive & well-preserved example.

John G Drury’s attractive pictorial map of Japan and Korea, designed to provide a potentially personalized record of the service activities of returning US veterans who had seen active service in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.

John Gottlieb Drury [1907-1988] had conceived of the Mem-O-Map designs as a result of his own two year wartime service as a 4th Grade Technician with the 214th Ordnance Battalion in the Pacific Theatre, where he had been posted to the island of Okinawa during the final months of the war, following its capture by Allied forces at the end of June 1945. It was as a result of map sketches produced both on Okinawa for many of his GI buddies & later on the troopship home that he first conceived the idea of this niche post-war map publishing business which he initially ran from his home of North Hollywood, California in the immediate post-war years.

The series of Mem-O-Maps that Drury designed in late 1945 and copyrighted in early 1946 comprised individual maps of Okinawa; Japan and Korea; The Philippine Islands; Oahu (Hawaii); and one additional map focusing on the European Theatre. All were printed in deliberately bright and colourful primary colours and were each embellished with amusing historical, artistic, cultural & gastronomic vignettes that did much to belie the terrible destructive impact of the war upon the regions shown.

The pictorial vignettes here include such features as a native Ainu and typical Ainu hut in Hokkaido; the Kamakura Buddha; Mount Fuji; mulberry & silkworm; the famous Miyajima Torii; and the only tangible indication of the impact of US military personnel upon the civilian population of a surrendered Japan: a US serviceman merrily fraternising & “cutting honorable rug” (i.e dancing) with a Japanese girl. The vignettes in Korea include Korean hats, native shoes and straw huts.

Each Mem-O-Map had the potential to be further customized by its owner to provide a unique personalized geography and memorial of wartime service. This could be done by completing the dates of arrival and departure to/from the USA and by adding the individual’s name & organization/unit and the locations, dates & movements of themselves individually & or their unit collectively through the regions depicted.

To read more about John Gottlieb Drury and his unusual Mem-O-Maps see to our recent Blog post

Refs: cf Katherine Harmon: You Are Here Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, p.119