Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Traveling Tuesday: Alabama's Wartime Service

Traveling Tuesday: Alabama's Wartime Service

Like with many states in the U.S., by the time World War II rolled around, Alabama had begun its recovery from the Great Depression. However, the war brought an explosion of industrial expansion, and as a result, creating boomtowns from the influx of new employees. On the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile welcomed more than 90,000 job seekers.

Because land in Alabama was plentiful and inexpensive, and the climate temperate, the government realized the state was ideal for military bases. Fort McClellan, already in place, became a major induction center, and Camp Rucker, constructed in 1942, was the state’s second largest training center. Chemical warfare training was done at Camp Sibert. Known as “The road to Tokyo,” Maxfield Army Air Base trained thousands of pilots and air crew. Perhaps the most well-known base was the Tuskeegee Army Airfield where more than 1,000 African-American men earned their wings.

On the home front, the Red Cross was active making bandages, knitting sweaters, and collecting clothing for people injured or displaced by the war overseas. Montgomery’s Soldier’s Center, later known as the Army-Navy USO Club, was the first civilian-run servicemen’s club in the U.S.

Manufacturing and shipbuilding were major industries in Alabama, and the state contained two of the nation’s five plants that produced aluminum, a crucial component in aircraft. By 1943, the Mobile facility was producing 34% of the country’s output. So important was this location that it became a target for German saboteurs, who were fortunately arrested in 1942. Other plants produced gunpowder, weapons, and textiles for uniforms, tents, bedding, and sandbags. Two arsenals were built in Huntsville.

Agriculture was also impacted by the war. Cotton saw an increase because of the textile mills, and forest products were used for lumber and paper products. As with the rest of the country labor shortages were an issue, but usage of POWs from one of the four camps in the state solved the problem. One report states that nearly 4,000 German and Italian POWs saved the 1944 peanut crop.
Although residents of the state didn’t know it at the time, the waters off their shores were some of the most dangerous places for shipping. German U-boats sank about fifty freighters and tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. Explosions could be heard, and ships could sometimes be seen on the horizon.

More than 6,000 Alabamians gave the ultimate sacrifice, and lost their lives during the war. Twelve of the 469 Medal of Honor recipients were either born in the state or entered service there.

Love's Allegiance now available for pre-order!

With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.

Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.

Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?

Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war.

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