Belgian nurse Augusta Chiwy, center, who saved hundreds of wounded GIs during the WWII Battle of the Bulge, received an award for valor from the U.S. Army, in Brussels, Monday, Dec. 12, 2011.
The U.S. ambassador says there was a 67-year delay in presenting the award because it was assumed that Augusta Chiwy had herself perished in the battle’s turmoil.
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Two U.S. Army soldiers of the 3rd Armored Division run down the street while the Germans shell the town during the Battle of the Bulge. The corpse of another soldier can be seen covered on the far right. Bois Le Ban, Namur, Wallonia, Belgium. 15 January 1945.
World War II transformed New York City.
A new exhibit presented by the New-York Historical Society, “WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda,” tells that story. Drawn from a vast collection of historical images, including many from U.S. Navy archives, the exhibit shows how the war touched every aspect of life.
“It attempts to create a better sense of what ‘total war’ meant to New Yorkers, whether they were working at the Navy Yards or just going about their daily lives,” said the historical society’s Chelsea Frosini.
Among the most dramatic changes to the city during wartime was an explosion of production and movement. According to the society, 63 million tons of supplies and more than 3 million men shipped out from New York Harbor, and at the height of the war, a ship left every 15 minutes. The Brooklyn Navy Yard doubled its size and employed 70,000 people, including many women; it became the largest shipbuilding facility in the country at the time.
“It had the shipping and railroad infrastructure to really be the Army and Navy’s warehouse for sending troops, ships, planes, guns, bombs, toilet paper, thumb tacks—whatever they needed—to Europe,” said Mike Thornton, a research associate at the New-York Historical Society. “We sent it all. The port has never been that busy since.”
2 August 1914, Russia, St. Petersburg, the Winter Palace.
The Russian Tsar Nicholas II comes to the balcony in person to read the declaration of War. The Russian empire declares the war on Germany.
World War II-era Boeing employees wearing the uniform designs of Muriel King.
Gordon Coster—Time & Life Pictures/Getty ImagesNot published in LIFE. US Army soldiers brought in to restore order after Detroit race riots read about the unfolding events in the Detroit Free Press, June 1943.
The popular notion that the American home front during World War II was a place of unclouded unity, sacrifice and common purpose is — like most overly simplified characterizations of history — only partially true.
Much of the country did, of course, pull together to form a largely united front during the war, and shared sacrifice (rationing, for example) was a daily reality in the early to mid-1940s. But for millions of people, America in the Forties was a tough place to make a living — especially with the country and much of the rest of the world still reeling from the Great Depression — and if anything can cause simmering tensions to boil over, it’s economic hardship. Add simple, brutal race hatred to the mix, and conditions are ripe for serious strife. Including riots.In 1943, race riots convulsed cities around the U.S., from Southern California’s infamous “zoot suit riots” in early June to widespread conflicts in St. Louis, New York, Baltimore and elsewhere. But no riots that year were as deadly, and few lasted as long, as the three days of violence that jolted Detroit in late June. Sparked by seemingly minor altercations amid aggressive white resistance to black labor flocking to the city’s factories during America’s ramped-up war effort, the Detroit riots (June 20-22) killed 34 people — 25 African Americans, nine whites — wounded hundreds more and damaged and destroyed property worth millions. What’s more, the street violence at home exposed how thin the veneer of “common purpose” truly was across some segments of society, even as Americans were fighting and dying overseas.
Read more: Detroit Race Riots 1943: Photos From a City in Turmoil During WWII | LIFE.com http://life.time.com/history/detroit-race-riots-1943-photos-from-a-city-in-turmoil-during-wwii/#ixzz3CBsPAQMD
A French woman tends to the grave of a 23-year-old Canadian soldier who as buried earlier that day; Bombardier Everitt Ivan Hill of the 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, killed during the Battle for Caen. Under his name and date of burial is written ”The French Will Never Forget the Canadians.” Beneath that inscription, on a separate piece of paper, is written in French:
"Rest in peace under the beautiful French sky,
Son of Canada and glorious martyr.
You have given your life for our deliverance —
May your name be forever blessed in Heaven.”
Hill, originally from Little Britain, Ontario, enlisted with the Royal Canadian Artillery on 24 March 1941 and landed in Normandy on D-Day. He was later reburied at Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery near Cintheaux; one of approximately 50,539 Allied casualties in the Battle for Caen. Approximately 226,386 Allied soldiers and between 400,000 to 450,000 Axis soldiers would be killed in the Battle of Normandy. Caen, Calvados, Lower Normandy, France. 18 July 1944. Image taken by Canadian Army Lt. Ken Bell.
70 years ago today, within an environment of institutional prejudices and against a stubborn German foe, the most famous American service unit of World War II – the Red Ball Express – was born. Throughout most of the War, the predominant assignments given to African-American servicemen was within the Quartermaster and Transportation Corps. Nevertheless, although many African-American soldiers found themselves segregated from white units and relegated to non-combat roles,this did not keep them, or the over 75% African American drivers of the Red Ball Express, out of the fight.
The Red Ball Express – its name taken from a railroad term meaning express freight – was a massive, round-the-clock convoy of supply-trucks, organized in north-western France as an immediate response to the problem of keeping the forward-area elements of the American First and Third Army supplied with petroleum, oil and lubricants (also known as POL supplies). Following the late July 1944 break-out in Normandy, American forces found themselves outpacing the reach of their supply lines. In an effort to solve this crisis – described by war correspondent Ernie Pyle as “a tactician’s hell and a quartermaster’s purgatory” – and bridge the gap between the soldiers at the front and the supply dumps at the Normandy beach-heads, the Red Ball Express was born.
On August 25, 1944, the Red Ball Express highway – two long-distance, one-way ‘loop highway’ routes – was opened at the port town of Cherbourg. Similar to the human circulatory system, the Red Ball highway’s northern route was for delivering supplies and the southern route was for returning convoys, with both routes open only to military traffic. A shortage of trucks and drivers for the Red Ball Express routes saw any non-essential vehicles pressed into service and many ‘volunteers’ – some of whom had never driven any type of automobile before – thrown behind the wheel and transformed overnight into drivers. One Red Ball recruit recalled that ‘Red Ball trucks broke, but they didn’t brake.’ On average, over 900 ‘deuce-and-a-half’ trucks were rolling on the Red Ball Highway at any one time, carrying thousands of tons of supplies forward, fueling the American advance.
Though only in existence for three months, from between August 25th and November 16th, 1944, the importance of the Red Ball Express and the heroic efforts of its drivers was clearly understood by Allied leadership in this, the world’s first “100 percent internal combustion engine war.” Over the course of 83 days, the Red Ball Express and its drivers delivered over 500,000 tons of supplies vital to the American war effort and the liberation of Europe. The Red Ball Express also served as indisputable proof of the quality of African-American soldiers. In an October, 1944 message to the troops, General Eisenhower was not at all faint in his praise for the Red Ball Express’ drivers.
TO: The Officers and Men of the Red Ball Highway
1. In any war, there are two tremendous tasks. That of the combat troops is to fight the enemy. That of the supply troops is to furnish all the material to insure victory. The faster and farther the combat troops advance against the foe, the greater becomes the battle of supply.
2. Supplies are reaching the continent in increasing streams. But the battle to get those supplies to the front becomes daily of mounting importance.
3. The Red Ball Line is the lifeline between combat and supply. To it falls the tremendous task of getting vital supplies from ports and depots to the combat troops, when and where such supplies are needed, material without which the armies might fail.
4. To you drivers and mechanics and your officers, who keep the Red Ball vehicles constantly moving, I wish to express my deep appreciation. You are doing an excellent job.
5. But the struggle is not yet won. So the Red Ball Line must continue the battle it is waging so well, with the knowledge that each truckload which goes through to the combat forces cannot help but bring victory closer.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
General, U. S. Army
The National WWII Museum echoes the words of General Eisenhower and honors the contributions of the brave men of the Red Ball Express and all African-Americans in World War II. The National WWII Museum’s Red Ball Express mobile outreach program, which today ‘delivers’ hands-on programming about World War II history to New Orleans region schools, takes its name in their honor.
This post by Collin Makamson, Family Programs & Outreach Coordinator @ The National WWII Museum