Meet the Authors — Loyal Forces: The American Animals of World War II
Thursday, March 7, 2013 5:00 pm Reception | 6:00 pm Presentation
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Join The National WWII Museum to celebrate the launch of Loyal Forces: The American Animals of WWII, written and compiled by the Museum’s very own Assistant Director of Collections, Toni M. Kiser and Senior Archivist, Lindsey F. Barnes.
At a time when every American was called upon to contribute to the war effort — whether by enlisting, buying bonds, or collecting scrap metal — the use of American animals during World War II further demonstrates the resourcefulness of the US Army and the many sacrifices that led to the Allies’ victory. Through 157 photographs from The National WWII Museum collection, Loyal Forces captures the heroism, hard work, and innate skills of innumerable animals that aided the military as they fought to protect, transport, communicate, and sustain morale. From the last mounted cavalry charge of the US Army to the 36,000 homing pigeons deployed overseas, service animals made a significant impact on military operations during World War II.
In 1941, as the Japanese continued to wage war on China, their need for oil, rubber, and other natural resources became desperate. Both the United States and Great Britain had placed embargoes on these items and frozen Japanese assets, making it increasingly harder for them to acquire the raw materials they needed to continue their war efforts in China. The Japanese took bold steps to ensure their gains in China would not be lost by invading the island nations in the Pacific. They hoped to secure oil from Borneo, Java, and Sumatra, along with rubber from Burma and Malaya. To secure shipping lanes for these raw materials, Japan invaded the American-controlled Philippine Islands.
Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright was commander of the Philippine Division, assigned to the post in 1940. Nicknamed “Skinny,” Wainwright was a 1906 graduate of West Point and a World War I veteran. His assignment as commander represented a significant achievement for Wainwright, with about 7,500 soldiers under his command. These soldiers were mostly Philippine Scouts, or native Filipinos who fought under the American flag. Also assigned to Wainwright was the 26th Cavalry Regiment, one of the last horse-mounted cavalries in the U.S. Army. Wainwright was a traditionalist when it came to the cavalry. His sentiments were that horse-mounted cavalry were some of the finest, most select, and most well-trained soldiers in the military. In his memoir, General Wainwright’s Story, he says of this unit that they were “to fight as few cavalry units ever fought.”
One officer of the 26th Cavalry Regiment was Lt. Edwin Price Ramsey. Like Wainwright, Ramsey believed the horse-mounted cavalry to be a superior unit of the military. His passion to remain in a mounted unit motivated him to volunteer to go to the Philippines in April 1941. He was assigned to lead Troop G, 2nd Squadron, of the 26th Cavalry Regiment. His troop consisted of twenty-seven men, all Filipinos, whom Ramsey was to train in mounted and dismounted drill. The men were disciplined, some having served close to thirteen years in the 26th, and Ramsey enjoyed working with them. It was with this troop that Ramsey was assigned his horse Bryn Awryn, a chestnut gelding fifteen and a half hands tall and with a small white blaze on his forehead. Bryn Awryn was powerful and well schooled, clever and aggressive, with the ability to turn on a dime.
On this day 70 years ago, the new headquarters of the United States Department of Defense was dedicated. Costing over 83 million dollars, covering over 6 million square-feet and completed in less than 17 months, construction on the iconic five-sided structure known as the Pentagon began in September 1941 on the former site of the obsolete Washington-Hoover Airport. The Pentagon was conceived by Secretary of War Henry Stimson as an ‘overall solution’ to the inadequate facilities available for an American military then in the midst of a rapid expansion.
Designed by architect George Bergstrom and built by general contractor John McShain (the primary contractor behind such other landmarks as the Jefferson Memorial, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Ronald Reagan Washington-National Airport), the Pentagon owes its unmistakable shape to a site originally considered then later rejected for construction (a roughly five-sided temporary housing complex known as Arlington Farms) and its relatively low vertical height to the American war-effort’s increasing demands for steel and other heavy weight-bearing metals.
In order to manage the pressing needs of the war, many DoD officials began working in the Pentagon before the building even neared completion. Built a one wing at a time, employees moved into the first completed wings as construction continued on the remaining ‘spokes.’ In keeping with this spirit of expediency and the lack of formality at the 1941 groundbreaking, there was no formal dedication ceremony when construction on the Pentagon ended on January 15, 1943: 70 years ago today.
This post by Collin Makamson, Red Ball Express Coordinator @ the National WWII Museum
Artifact Spotlight Stopped Watch Preserves a Moment in History
December 7, 1941, was a day that would live forever in the memory of any American who was alive and old enough to understand the magnitude of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Roy S. “Swede” Boreen not only remembers the attack first-hand as a survivor, he has a concrete reminder of the instant when everything changed.
When Boreen was interviewed by the Museumin early 2011, he donated the watch he wore on the day of the attack. The 21-jewel Bulova watch was significant because it had marked the exact second he hit the water to take cover from an enemy fighter – 8:04 am.
December 7, 1941, is a date which retains its unique power in the national consciousness of the American people because it marks our entryway into the Second World War and ultimately the pathway to the dominant position of the United States in world affairs, the Pax Americana of the twentieth century. The Japanese attack decisively ended American neutrality and our efforts to isolate the nation from the previous decade of troublesome world affairs. To many, it is the day the United States shed its innocence and naiveté, and shouldered the burdens of world leadership.
For most Americans, however, the Japanese attack was a surprising gateway to this destiny. Events in remote Asia were not seen as an immediate threat to the United States at the end of 1941. Instead, it seemed more likely that the United States would be drawn into war with Nazi Germany, as the American convoys carrying Lend-Lease to Great Britain came under fire from the German navy. Instead, war came to Americans in an unanticipated, blinding flash from across the Pacific, an attack that succeeded beyond the imagination of its planners in many respects, an attack that caught the American military unawares and in an embarrassed state and exposed condition. The story of the missed signs, misinterpretations, misunderstandings and many ironic passages which all combined to lead to Pearl Harbor is a vast tapestry.
On December 7, 2011, The National WWII Museum will debut a new exhibit that commemorates not only the 70th anniversary of the costly attack on Pearl Harbor, but also sheds light on the lesser known attacks on Guam, Wake Island and the Philippines that took place over the course of one day.
Infamy – December 1941will open to the public at 10:00 a.m. on December 7th, and will be on view through February 19, 2012 in the Joe W. and D. D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery in the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
Roosevelt, Rockwell and the Four Freedoms: America’s Slow March From Isolation to Action, the Museum’s special exhibit focusing on the years leading up to World War II, recently closed. The exhibit explored, with the help of Gallup polls from the times, the evolving views of the American public as world events unfolded in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his January 1941 State of the Union speech, envisioned four essential human freedoms that he believed could, and should, be gained for all persons everywhere – Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Worship, and Freedom from Want. Roosevelt, in enunciating these to the American public, was providing a moral bedrock on which to build a road to participation in World War II. He was certain of the righteousness of the cause, and hoped to convince Americans to share that belief.
During the exhibit’s run, we solicited feedback from Museum visitors about those same Four Freedoms. Roosevelt’s stated hope was that a victorious post-war world would encompass all of them. They are certainly among the highest of human aspirations. We wanted to know if Museum visitors would wish to help to bring them about in today’s world, and if so, what work would be needed by the individual visitor to accomplish these lofty goals.
Today marks the 70th anniversary of Japan’s order to bomb Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack that eventually came on December 7, 1941 plunged the United States headlong into World War II. How will you commemorate the upcoming 70th anniversary of the “date that will live infamy?”
Gift of Dr. Frank B. Arian, The National WWII Museum Inc, 2009.451.694
Construction on Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota began in 1927. Intended to promote tourism in the region, Mount Rushmore would come to be known as the “Shrine of Democracy.” At the unveiling of the head of Thomas Jefferson on August 30, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt remarked: “Mr. Borglum [the sculptor] has well said that this can be a monument and an inspiration for the continuance of the democratic-republican form of government, not only in our own beloved country, but, we hope, throughout the world.” Although the initial concept of the monument involved further sculpting, work on Mount Rushmore was discontinued and the work declared complete in 1941 due, in no small part, to the approaching war and insufficient funds. October 31 would be the last day of carving.
Rapid City Army Air Base (now Ellsworth Air Force Base), located only about 30 miles from Mount Rushmore, also opened in 1941. This matchbook featured the newly opened attraction, which would have been seen by the many bombardment groups training in the area.
The National Park Service has operated the monument, which attracts 2 million visitors annually, since 1933.
Post by The National WWII Museum Curator Kimberly Guise.
“Before three months have passed, we shall witness a collapse in Russia, the like of which has never been seen in history.”—Adolf Hitler, 2:30am, June 22, 1941
October 1941 was an especially grim time for the Soviet Union as it appeared that Adolf Hitler might win his historical gamble to crash in the Soviet Union and end the eastern war with a military victory before the United States was drawn into the conflict. A solitary Great Britain would then be forced to come to terms with Germany’s impregnable continental triumph. Hitler would then be free to pursue his dream of a greater Aryan empire in eastern Europe, an empire economically supported through enslaving the Slavic peoples while cleansing the lands of all racial undesirables. Hitler was betting that a Blitzkreig strike against the Soviet Union could attain a military defeat within six months, paving the way to his Aryan utopia.
The German army which launched Operation Barbarossa at 3:30am on June 22, 1941, along a long front stretching from the Baltic to the Ukraine totaled over 3.1 million men. In its mechanical force it had nineteen panzer divisions and twelve motorized divisions, 3,350 tanks, 5,000 aircraft, and 7,000 pieces of artillery. General von Bock’s Army Group Center, located in the center of the line, had two objectives: first to capture Minsk, and then make the decisive strike to the heart by driving to Moscow. Army Group North would capture the Baltic and Leningrad; Army Group South would drive to Kiev and the southern oil fields. Hitler’s Blitzkreig strategy again relied upon speed, and the initial thrust did not disappoint. His Panzer divisions knifed ahead fifty miles a day once the attack was launched; German forces were overrunning and encircling Soviet troops. Because the Soviet troops had been warned, their superior numbers did not translate into resistance, but rather greater numbers of captured prisoners. The Luftwaffe was initially very effective in cutting rail and road support for the Soviet armies, and over 5,000 Soviet planes were destroyed on the ground by August, almost fifty percent of the Soviet front-line defensive air strength.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.