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Alabama and World War II
Time Line

(Alabama facts are in italic type.)

1938 Frank Dixon elected governor of Alabama. Germany annexes Austria. Sudeten Crisis: Munich Conference and Appeasement.

1939 Rebound from Depression begins; housing starts and auto sales rise in the U.S. Germany invades Poland; World War II begins in Europe.

1940 Maxwell Field (Montgomery) becomes Southeast Air Corps Training Center. Selective Service (draft system) organized. Fort McClellan (Anniston) becomes important induction center. Alabama's 31st "Dixie" Division federalized (General John Persons of Birmingham, commanding). Germany defeats France.

1941 Major defense expansion nationwide; in Alabama: Huntsville Arsenal; Redstone Arsenal added later; Anniston Ordnance Depot; Alabama Ordnance Works (Childersburg); Coosa River Ordnance Plant (Talladega); Craig Field (Selma); Camp Rucker (Ozark); Tuskegee Army Air Field (trained famous African American squadrons); Napier Field (Dothan); Gunter Field (Montgomery); and Brookley Field (Mobile). Polio epidemic in United States. Operation Barbarossa: German invasion of Russia covered by Eddie Gilmore of Selma. USS Greer attacked in the Atlantic. USS Kearney torpedoed (Russell Wade of Houston, Alabama, killed). USS Reuben James sunk with loss of 115 lives. Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7 (Julius Ellsberry, a sailor from Birmingham, dies at Pearl Harbor and is first African American war casualty).

1942 99th Pursuit Squadron (Tuskegee Airmen) formed. U-boats attack shipping in the Gulf of Mexico. Coastal dimouts. First civilian-run USO club established in Montgomery. War Loan Campaign begins. Scrap drives and rationing (gas, tires, sugar) increasingly common. Camp Sibert (Gadsden) used as training ground for chemical warfare. Mobile's shipyards in full production: Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding; Gulf Shipbuilding. Philippines, Corregidor, and Bataan: Gen. Seals, Bert Bank, Joseph Rhett Barker. 8th Air Force: Gen. Asa Duncan. Operation Torch: North Africa. Guadalcanal captured in Pacific.

1942-46 Chauncey Sparks, Alabama governor.

1943 Height of wartime production and employment of women in defense industries. POW camps established in Aliceville, Opelika, Camp Rucker, Fort McClellan and numerous side-camps. Last Allied ship sunk in Gulf of Mexico. Italian Campaign. Strategic bombing in Europe. Ledo Road to supply China (built by Gen. Lewis A. Pick of Auburn).

1944 Deactivation of POW camps begins in the United States. Industrial production slows and many workers, especially women, laid off. Operation Overlord: Allied landing on French coast. Attempt on Hitler's life.

1945 Germany surrenders: VE-Day. Iwo Jima and Okinawa captured. United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Japan surrenders: VJ-Day. The war ends. The GI Bill provides college educations and home loans for thousands who return to civilian life.