A Travellerspoint blog


An Easy Travel Day

sunny 93 °F

The skies cleared after yesterday's rain storm in southern Louisiana. The heat returned with the sun. It got above 90*s. Today was free of adventures so I decided to reflect more on my museum experience of yesterday.

Since my last year's visit to the WWII museum a section devoted to the "Arsenal of Democracy" has been added. Having read a book on the subject I have been facinated by the rapid response our nation took to shift from a civilian economy to a war economy. After the the US Congress' Declaration of War on Dec. 8, 1941 within the month, in Jan. 1942, FDR created the War Production Board. William Knudsen, Chmn. of General Motors, Walter Reuther representing the Labor Unions along with about 10 other 'Titans of Industry' were tasked with this industrial conversion effort. Video clips showed an interview of a lady worker at a typewriter factory. She told of the manufacturing transition from typewriters to machine gun production within 6 weeks. Incredible stories were told; for example, Bath Iron Works, Bath, ME was producing a naval destroyer every 17 days with largely female labor, Keiser shipyards in California built Liberty Ships for the Merchant Marine to transport war materiels to both the European and Pacific theaters of war. The record for Liberty shipbuilding was 4 days, 15 hrs. from laying the keel to launch. Thousands were produced. The Brown brothers of Houston, TX owned a road construction company. In the 1930's they successfully bid on a power dam project under the WPA program. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. When the war broke out they built a shipyard, with no experience in ship building, won the bid and built 275 warships during the war. Their creativity in manufacturing methods and business leadership proved successful. The Ford Motor Company built, at the time, the world's largest factory in Willow Run, MI in a mere 18 months. Forty-two thousand workers produced B-24 Heavy Bombers at the rate of 1 per hour by 1944.

What struck me was not only the incredible production capacity our nation displayed providing war materiels for ourselves, Great Britain, and Russia- The Allied Powers, but that the human sacrifice was equal or greater. The Merchant Marine, for example on a per capita basis lost a greater percentage of men than any branch of service due to ship sinkings by German submarine attacks. The Eighth Air Force who flew daylight bombing missions over Europe had a greater # of losses than the US Marines. In the early part of the bombing campaign before escort fighter planes with enough range to protect them were developed the loss ratio was 80%. For every 100 bombers sent on missions only 20 returned. Those flight crews lost were either killed in action or parachuted, were captured and became POW's. A very sad story. Things gradually improved with the arrival of the P-51 fighter escort plane but the required 25 missions of those bomber crews was extremely risky. Stories like this made me realize that this war robbed that generation of their care-free youth. They truly were the 'Greatest Generation' who saved the world from tyranny.

Posted by dixter 14:24 Archived in USA Tagged museum ii visit part

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.