Wartime Wednesday: The Office of Civilian Defense
By the second world war, that changed. Airplanes were advanced enough to be able to reach the United States. Air raids and other attacks in populated areas of Europe gave rise to fear that similar attacks could happen in the US. More than six months before America entered the war and prompted by a letter from New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, President Franklin Roosevelt set up the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD) to coordinate state and federal measures to protect citizens in war-related emergencies.
Roosevelt appointed LaGuardia as the organization’s director. The four operating divisions were as follows:
- Federal-State Cooperation: provided a link between the federal government and local governments to foster communication in order to handle individual needs that resulted from war such as health, housing, volunteers, recreation, welfare, and child care.
- Protection Services: trained and organized volunteers in the efforts required to protect citizens such as organizing evacuations, blackouts, auxiliary police and fire services, and outfitting protective buildings.
- Protective Property: loaned protective property and equipment purchased by OCD to local communities.
- Industrial Protection: helped protect industrial plants against dangers such as fire and enemy sabotage.
People could volunteer in fire protection (responsible for extinguishing incendiary bombs), communication (air raid drills, blackout, relaying messages by bicycle and radio in the event the telephone system was disabled), evacuation (coordination with the army to move people to safety), shelters (distributed flyers explaining the different types of bombs, designed shelters, and trained in tunneling and other protective techniques), and gas (distributed gas masks and protective clothing, taught the public how to identify different gases and instructed people on emergency decontamination measures).
In addition, the OCD had efforts in place to restore transportation, communications, and other services after an attack, prepare emergency hospitals and mobile medical teams, and keep watch for enemies in the sky.
Check out this promotional film from 1942: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBv5IYDpc9o
Estelle Johnson promised to wait for Aubry DeLuca, but then she receives word of his debilitating injuries. Does she have the strength to stand by him in his hour of need?
Aubry DeLuca storms the beaches at Normandy, then wakes up in the hospital, his eyes bandaged. Will he regain his sight? Will the only woman he’s ever loved welcome him home or is he destined to go through life blind and alone?
Pre-order link: https://amzn.to/3R5uSNM