Charlie, Jr. at his army induction, 1943, (left) and during training at Camp Haan, CA, 1944 Sydney at his induction (left) and at the Ordnance Training Center in Flora, MS, 1944
View the enlistment records for Charlie, Jr. & Sydney here & here.
Both boys served in General Patton’s Third Army during WWII. Charlie, Jr. received two battle stars for his service.
He later remembered that his father was proud that he was in uniform.
He always lectured me about taking my duties seriously. I never left for camp that he didn’t put his arm around me and give me a pep talk.
“Charlie,” he would say, “I want you to be a good soldier. If you don’t do anything else be a good soldier.”
And once he even received a rare, personal letter from him.
He must have just seen a newsreel of soldiers working their way through mined houses, because the letter was full of warnings about booby traps. He was genuinely worried.
“Be careful where you walk, son,” he wrote. “You might step on a mine and blow off your foot. It’s not good to go through life maimed. Don’t pick up strange objects, you might get a hand blown off.”
He seemed especially concerned about pianos and singled them out for attention, warning me not to play on a strange one or to lift it or move it for fear the whole thing would blow up in my face. I suppose pianos troubled him so much because ever since I had shown an interest in music he had associated me with them. I had to laugh. Pianos were the least of my concern while bullets were flying overhead and shells were lobbing over and an occasional German plane was strafing us. (My Father, Charlie Chaplin, 1960)