Following the Troops: Life for an Army Wife 1941-1945

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One key metal in limited supply was copper. It was used in many war-related products, including assault wire. The military needed millions of miles of this wire to communicate on battlefields. To satisfy the military's demands, copper substitutes had to be found to use in products less important to the nation's defense. The US Mint helped solve the copper shortage. During it made pennies out of steel.

The Mint also conserved nickel, another important metal, by removing it from 5-cent coins. Substitutions like these helped win the production battle. It had to be fed. The Army's standard K ration included chocolate bars, which were produced in huge numbers. Cocoa production was increased to make this possible. Sugar was another ingredient in chocolate. It was also used in chewing gum, another part of the K ration. Sugar cane was needed to produce gunpowder, dynamite, and other chemical products.

To satisfy the military's needs, sugar was rationed to civilians. The government also rationed other foods, including meat and coffee. Local rationing boards issued coupons to consumers that entitled them to a limited supply of rationed items. A key ingredient needed to make the explosives in much ammunition was glycerine.

American Women in World War II

To help produce more ammunition, Americans were encouraged to save household waste fat, which was used to make glycerine. Other household goods,including rags, paper, silk, and string,were also recycled. This was a home front project that all Americans could join. Canteens are a standard part of military equipment.

Millions were produced during the war. Most were made of steel or aluminum, metals which were also used to make everything from ammunition to ships. At times, both metals were in short supply. To meet America's metal needs, scrap was salvaged from basements, backyards, and attics. Old cars, bed frames, radiators, pots, and pipes were just some of the items gathered at metal "scrap drives" around the nation.

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Americans also collected rubber, tin, nylon, and paper at salvage drives. Tires required rubber. Rubber was also used to produce tanks and planes. But when Japan invaded Southeast Asia, the United States was cut off from one of its chief sources of this critical raw product. America overcame its rubber shortage in several ways. Speed limits and gas rationing forced people to limit their driving.

Duty in World War II

This reduced wear and tear on tires. A synthetic rubber industry was created. The public also carpooled and contributed rubber scrap for recycling.

Dollars for Defense To help pay for the war, the government increased corporate and personal income taxes. The federal income tax entered the lives of many Americans. In fewer than 8 million people filed individual income tax returns. In nearly 50 million filed. The withholding system of payroll deductions was another wartime development. The government also borrowed money by selling "war bonds" to the public. With consumer goods in short supply, Americans put much of their money into bonds and savings accounts.

America's economy performed astonishing feats during World War II. Manufacturers retooled their plants to produce war goods. But this alone was not enough. Soon huge new factories, built with government and private funds, appeared around the nation. Millions of new jobs were created and millions of Americans moved to new communities to fill them. One story helps capture the scale of the defense effort.

In President Roosevelt shocked Congress when he proposed building 50, aircraft a year. In the nation made almost double that number.

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Ford's massive Willow Run bomber factory alone produced nearly one plane an hour by March By America led the world in arms production, making more than enough to fill its military needs. At the same time, the United States was providing its allies in Great Britain and the Soviet Union with critically needed supplies. Civilian Defense Many Americans volunteered to defend the nation from enemy bombing or invasion.

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  6. They trained in first aid, aircraft spotting, bomb removal, and fire fighting. Air raid wardens led practice drills, including blackouts. By mid over 10 million Americans were civil defense volunteers.

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    5. Though America's mainland was never invaded, there were dangers offshore. At least 10 US naval vessels were sunk or damaged by U-boats operating in American waters. The need for workers led manufacturers to hire women, teenagers, the aged, and minorities previously excluded by discrimination from sectors of the economy.

      Plentiful overtime work contributed to rising wages and increased savings. Military and economic expansion created labor shortages. To fill the gap, government and industry encouraged women to enter the workforce. Though most working women continued to labor in more traditional employment like waitressing and teaching, millions took better-paid jobs in defense factories.

      African Americans and other minorities also took high-paying industrial jobs previously reserved for whites. In , black labor leader A. Philip Randolph threatened to organize a protest march on Washington, D.

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      Millions of women, including many mothers, entered the industrial workforce during the war. They found jobs in especially large numbers in the shipbuilding and aircraft industries. Though defense jobs paid far more than traditional "female" occupations, women were still often paid less than men performing comparable work. Moreover, at war's end, women were expected to leave the factories to make way for returning male veterans. The first was landing craft, constructed of wood and steel and used to transport fully armed troops, light tanks, field artillery, and other mechanized equipment and supplies to shore.

      These boats helped make the amphibious landings of World War II possible. Higgins also designed and manufactured supply vessels and specialized patrol craft, including high-speed PT boats, antisubmarine boats, and dispatch boats. It could land soldiers, and even jeeps, on a beach. From the Eureka Trappers and oil companies needed a rugged, shallow-bottomed craft that could navigate these waters, run aground, and retract itself without damaging its hull. Higgins developed a boat that could perform all these tasks: a spoonbill-bowed craft he called the Eureka.

      Over time he modified and improved his craft and found markets for it in the United States and abroad. Navy in adapting his shallow-draft Eureka for use as an amphibious landing craft. The navy showed little interest, but Higgins persisted.

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      After a long struggle, he finally secured a government contract to build modified Eurekas for military use. In its most advanced form the LCP L measured 36 feet in length. It could transport men from ships offshore directly onto a beach, then retract itself, turn, and head back to sea.

      Marines needed a boat capable of transporting vehicles to shore.