Traveling Tuesday: The West Indies During WWII
The West Indies is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean that includes the island countries and surrounding waters of three major archipelagos: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Lucayan Archipelago (Wikipedia). Countries include Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, Guadalupe, St. Kitts and Nevis, Virgin Islands, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and many others.
Because of these islands’ location, they were the “forward edge” of the American defense strategy, a relationship formalized in the Panama Declaration of 1939. Held on September 23, the meeting entailed discussions about neutrality, economic concerns, and the maintenance of peace in the area. The Declaration banned belligerent submarines from entering their ports, demanded the cessation of subversive activities within their countries, and formed a maritime security zone which extended over 300 nautical miles on either side of the American continent.
More than half of the supplies sent to Europe and Africa from the US were shipped from ports in the Gulf of Mexico and passed through the Caribbean. German U-boats were active in the area during the first two years of the war with over 300 ships sunk. As a result, the US Caribbean Defense Command was formed, sending nearly 120,000 personnel to protect the islands and the Panama Canal.
(Photo: Imperial War Museum)
Haiti declared neutrality, but gave food and supplies to Allied forces. The country also hosted a detachment of the US Coast Guard. Five members of the Haitian Air Force volunteered and were integrated into the Tuskegee Airmen division of the US military. Over 10,000 men from the various Caribbean islands traveled to England to volunteer for the Armed Forces. Some managed to enlist in the British Navy, but as in the United States, Britain was not ready for an integrated military. In response, Britain created the Caribbean Regiment that was deployed to the Middle East and Italy. Another detachment of the regiment was trained at Fort Eustis, Virginia then sent to North Africa.
A Love Not Forgotten:
Allison White should be thrilled about her upcoming wedding. The problem? She’s still in love with her fiancé, Chaz, who was declared dead after being shot down over Germany in 1944. Can she put the past behind her and settle down to married life with the kindhearted man who loves her?
It’s been two years since Charles “Chaz” Powell was shot down over enemy territory. The war is officially over, but not for him. He has amnesia as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, and the only clue to his identity is a love letter with no return address. Will he ever regain his memories and discover who he is, or will he have to forge a new life with no connections to the past?
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