Photograph of boxer Joe Louis meeting troops.

During World War II, George Ellis had access to the military at the barracks in Bodmin. This gives us a unique insight into the life of the soldiers – of all nationalities – stationed there. This image from 1944 shows the then-boxing heavyweight champion of the world- and at that time American GI – Joe Louis, talking to troops at the barracks. Lewis was photographed talking to white troops here. When he enlisted he initially served in a segregated unit, and Ellis also captured pictures showing the racial segregation of Louis’ fellow black Americans here in Bodmin. Louis did not see combat and was later employed to bolster troop morale, he fought in over 90 exhibition matches before over two million troops, and also donated over $100,000 to Army and Navy relief funds.


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