From the wisconsin blue book – 1962



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From the WISCONSIN BLUE BOOK – 1962

Compiled by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library

WISCONSIN IN WORLD WAR II

Note: This summary draws heavily from "Wisconsin in the Defense Program" by R. S. Kingsley, 1943 Wisconsin Blue Book, pp. 151-58; “Wis­consin Government Enrolls for War" by Edward N. Hem, 1944 Wisconsin Blue Book, pp. 75-114; and "Well Done U.S.S. Wisconsin" by E. N. Doan, 1946 \Wisconsin Blue Book. pp. 185-92.
Introduction

In spite of strong hopes among the Americans that we could avoid participation in World War II, it became increasingly evi­dent, as one looks back, that we would ultimately become em­broiled in the conflict. Experience in World War I, a matter of 2 decades earlier, indicated that the United States had tremen­dous potential power if it was given enough time to get its or­ganization into operation. By the time World War I was over, our war machine was in high gear, but it had taken a good year to bring it up to capacity. In the years that followed, the military strength of the nation was allowed to decline.

The warnings of World War II were stronger. Our industry had begun its transition as a result of lend-lease and some stepping-up .of the military organization. Fourteen months before Pearl Harbor, our 32nd Division had been called to federal duty. The draft was set up in the fall of 1940 and by the next fall some draftees had finished their tour of duty. In the fall of 1940, the State Council of Defense was activated by the Governor. America had begun to unlimber its muscles of war slowly and somewhat indecisively.

While the United States contributed mightily to. World War I, the magnitude of its task in World War II was far greater. Its allies had been exhausted. The theatres of war had been tripled. The fleet had been seriously crippled and the battle line had been pushed nearly to our shores. The woeful voice of Gabriel Heater aptly depicted the darkness of the' horizon. Yet at tremendous' costs in manpower and resources, the nation bestirred itself, over­came the great Odds, and crushed its adversaries.

The tremendous military effort in which Wisconsin participated has been recounted many times. The great slugging matches for control of the Pacific Ocean; the fight to clear the Atlantic of the U-boats; the struggle for a toe hold in Atrtca, Italy, and France; and the devastating effect of our tremendous air armada are highlights in the great struggle to undo the work of the maniacs who precipitated the contest. No man who stood before Buna or scoured the wintry Atlantic or flew a flak-riddled bomber or crossed the channel on D day will ever forget these events.

Behind the whole effort was a citizenry to whom the impacts of war were at best distasteful. It disrupted their normal pur­suits. It restricted their activities. It limited their supplies. It pushed them into new occupations and leisure activities. It af­fected their finances. Yet these people accepted these many dis­tasteful readjustments and applied themselves with 'vigor to the

war effort. They gave of their time and their resources. They accepted restrictions. They worked long and irregular hours. They backed the war effort in a myriad of ways. It is to this facet of the war that we address ourselves in this section.

Legislative Action in World War II

When the 1941 Legislature convened in January, we were still almost a year away from the shooting war, but the 32nd Division had been called to active duty, the registration for the draft had been held, and the United States was beginning to gear itself for action. The legislative session was one of the shortest of the period and it produced only 333 laws, over 200 less than the average for the times.



The Legislature, which met from January 8 to June 6, enacted the following laws affecting the defense of our nation.

  1. It created a State Guard by Chapter 21 to replace the Na­tional Guard, which had been called to active duty.

  2. It permitted members of the armed forces to take university extension c;urses without cost by Chapter 29.

  3. It directed high schools to grant diplomas to seniors who entered military service before graduation by Chapter 46.

  4. It suspended certain licensing requirements 'during military service by Chapter 51.

  5. It made 2 years of military training compulsory at the unt­versity by Chapter 66.

  6. It provided leaves of absence for state and certain county employes in the military service by Chapter 102 and for city and village employes by Chapter 171 and provided for their ria-employment at like positions by Chapter 238.

  7. It required the teaching of proper respect for the flag, Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and citizenship in every school by Chapter 1 I 6.

  8. Chapter 166 provided for the extension of eligibility of class­ified employes for reinstatement if transferred to a federal agency by a department officer.

By 1943 the war had been going on for over a year. The state had adjusted itself to a war economy and the gaps in the law had been discovered. The legislation adopted in 1943 was substantially greater than in 1941. More than 40 acts directly attributable to the war were enacted.

  1. The State Council of Defense was made statutory, and county and municipal councils of defense were authorized.

  2. The postwar rehabilitation fund for veterans of World War II was created by enacting a 60 per cent surtax for one year and certain other taxes to augment the fund were con­tinued. The Veterans Recognition Board to administer the fund was created.

  3. A monthly cost of living bonus for state employees making not more than $225 a month was provided and the rights

and privileges of governmental employees called to active duty were clarified. Counties and municipalities were authorized to increase salaries of most officers during their terms.

  1. The Armory Board was reconstituted to enable it to build more armories.

  2. Counties and municipalities were authorized to enact black­out ordinances.

  3. Housing authorities were authorized to provide housing for persons in war industries and activities.

  4. A legislative interim committee on postwar planning was created.

  5. The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act to suspend certain obligations was enacted.

  6. Various professional license requirements were suspended during military service, members of the armed forces were granted resident hunting and fishing licenses, and temporary registration of motor vehicles was provided.

  7. The income from military duty was exempted from the in­come tax and the time of filing returns was extended.

  8. Various laws regarding filing and registration of documents and acknowledgments for and by military personnel were enacted.

  9. Federal funds foV war service training at the state colleges and Stout Institute and to procure farm labor were accepted.

  10. State civil service procedures to fill war jobs were stream­lined.

  11. Absentee voting by members of the armed forces was clari­fied.

When the Legislature of 1945 convened, the tide of the war had turned in our favor. We could now look to its successful con­clusion and the acts of the Legislature reflected this optimism.

  1. A committee to study veterans' legislation was created and the postwar reconstruction study group was continued.

  2. The Department of Veterans Affairs replaced the Veterans Recognition Board and the post of County Service Officer was created. Veterans loans for purchases of property or business up to $ 750 were authorized.

  3. The conditions of re-employment were clarified and leave for training camps was authorized. Commitment of insane veterans was provided for.

  4. The beginnings of the programs of veterans' training were provided by permitting vocational schools to accept federal funds under P.L. 16 and P.L. 346.

Military Installations in the State

During World War - II, 2 major military installations, Camp McCoy near Sparta and Truax Field in Madison, were the best known camps, although Camp WIlliams at Camp Douglas and Mitchell Field in Milwaukee also were active. In addition, 11

which resulted in some readjustments in the industry. The pro­duction and packing of vegetables increased. Thirty-three per cent more green peas were produced in 1941 than before and sweet corn production went up. This production increase was necessary to provide food for our ever-increasing military forces, for lend-lease to our allies, and for our civilian population which by reason of its greater prosperity and increased employment re­quired more food.

In 1943 when the Wisconsin Council of Defense became the statutory State Council of Defense it was divided into 2 main branches, the Citizens Defense Corps and the Citizens Service Corps.

The Citizens Defense Corps was the forerunner of our present civil defense setup. It was "to effect a passive defense of the state and to augment and assist the regularly established peacetime protective agencies in emergencies." Almost 100,000 trained per­sonnel participated in these programs. An air raid warning sys­tem was- established and county control centers to receive reports of damage and dispatch help were set up. Practice blackouts were held in many counties and more than 10,000 people were trained in emergency medical service.

The second branch of the Council of Defense, the Citizens Service Corps, had as its primary purpose giving civilian volun­teers opportunities to do civilian war jobs. It provided seasonal and permanent farm labor. It provided people to man drives for scrap, fats, grease, wastepaper, clothing, etc. It provided people to encourage car-sharing, group riding, and conservation of tires and gasoline. It provided staff to distribute information on method of coping with food shortages. It encouraged victory gardens to increase the production of food. It provided staff to explain the food rationing system and to man the rationing boards. It sup­plied volunteers for war bond drives. It provided local clearing­houses for volunteers for civilian defense activities.

State Government Activities

The war and its readjustments put heavy responsibilities 011 many state agencies. Only a few of the problems to be coped with can be mentioned.

The tear that water supplies might be sabotaged caused the State Health Department to urge their protection by fencing, guards, and lights. Instruction in clearing up contaminated water supplies was given.

The tremendous concentration of people in tents and trailers around industrial plants and army installations led to rules and inspections to prevent unhealthful conditions resulting from con­gestion under adverse housing conditions. Food and eating es­tablishment inspection was made more difficult, the problems of nutrition were increased due to' irregular hours and working mothers, and family care problems among the transient workers


were greater. The requirements of proof of citizenship increased the burdens on the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

The state itself had difficulty in securing employes because of the heavy demands on the labor force. One institution had a 58 per cent turnover in attendants. To attract employes to the state, a cost of living bonus was instituted, a retirement system was adopted, and various procedures to recruit were put into opera­tion. In 1943 under the so-called "Sweetheart" law, the Legis­lature abandoned its 40-year-Old prohibition against the employ­ment of female clerks.

The heavy emphasis on the motor vehicle in wartime commerce and in the military establishment increased the need for driver training and for streamlining the authority to haul for others. Convoys had to be escorted and local .authorities had to cope with traffic congestion at off hours.

The Beverage Tax Division, one of the state's more effective law enforcement agencies, was placed in control of the suppression of prostitution in congested areas. Wisconsin's army camps led the nation with the lowest rate of venereal disease infection. This organization was also charged with suppressing black market operations. The liquor industry was organized in the promotion of war bond sales and the state ranked fifth in its sales through this medium.

While the work in the conservation of our fish and game population suffered from the loss of men, the protection of our forests, needed for the production of wood products and the vast quantities of paper needed to prosecute a war, was intensified. Forest fire protection became a function of the civil defense or­ganization. Game wardens and forest rangers were given broader scope by direction to observe critical installations such as dams, power plants, bridges, and roads in their patroling activities to prevent sabotage.

The Department of Agriculture was prominent in the drive for greater production of food stuffs by better farming methods, in­creasing acreage and decreasing diseases, pests, and weeds which affect production. It was also required to investigate substitutes to assure that they were healthful and properly labeled. Weights and measures had to be checked to avoid cheating.

While the aids to certain groups on relief declined with greater work opportunities, other welfare problems developed due to the dependents left by members of the armed forces. Every effort was made to use the manpower in the institutions, such as the school for boys and the prison. The prison was awarded a banner by the War Production Board for their production record.

As a leading manufacturing state, Wisconsin made an all-out effort to increase its output of the commodities which it had been producing and to expand its scope to include the materials re­quired by the war. This expansion not only strained the labor

standards such as the maximum hours of work for women and youngsters and the night work of women, but required additional safety precautions because of the intensity of the operation, the number of untrained workers, and the emphasis on output. While industrial accidents increased, every effort was made to keep them at the absolute minimum.

The diversion of critical materials and employes to more es­sential occupations seriously handicapped the construction of highways. Little new construction was effected, but the heavy use of the roads made it increasingly necessary to keep them ill repair.

These are but a few of the many impacts which the war had on the operation of state and local government.

The National Guard

While the activities of the National Guard are recounted in a separate chapter, it should be mentioned here as a segment of the state's war effort in World War II. The 32nd Division was called to. active duty in October, 1940; and after training at Camp Livingston, La., it was sent to Australia. From this base, it be­gan its operations in the Southwest Pacific, starting with the rugged Buna campaign and ending in 1945 in Japan. The division added to the laurels garnered in World War 1.

The first Wisconsin National Guard unit to engage the enemy was Company A of the 192nd Tank Battalion which was separated from the 32nd Division and sent to the Philippine Islands shortly before Pearl Harbor. It participated in the great defensive struggle at Bataan and Corregidor.

Selective Service

On September 16, 1940, the President of the United States signed the Selective Service Act which provided an orderly pro­cess for the selection of personnel for the armed forces of the nation. This process, first used extensively in World War I, was made a part of the process of expanding the armed forces at the very outset, in part because both the United States and its allies had learned early in World War I that, unless this process was resorted to, the best potential leaders would enlist early and be decimated before their abilities could be properly used.

On October 16, 1940, the registration of all men between the ages of 21 and 36 was held. Before the war was over, 6 regis­trations were held, the minimum age was reduced to 18, and a total of 1,034,561 men were registered in Wisconsin. Finally registration was made automatic when a boy became 18.

To accomplish the original registration, the organization nor­mally used for elections was used; but when the draft boards with the task of selecting and classifying the registrants were set up, 134 local boards, '10 appeal boards, and 79 registrant advisory boards plus phyaiciana and dentists were selected who served without pay.
State Government Activities in Support of the 'War Effort

In avoiding the admonition to do as I say and not as I do, the state government itself sought to gear its own operations to con­form to the war effort. Not only did state employes participate in war bond purchases, but more than $60,000,000 of the state's funds were thus invested. The state employes reduced their travel mileage by more than 11,000,000 miles in one year, thus saving more than a thousand tires and 750,000 gallons of gasoline. Hundreds of state employes did yeoman service as volunteers in many drives and many held additional jobs. Strenuous efforts to save light, heat, paper, and other supplies were made.

Evidences of Public Support

No one wlll ever compile all the evidence .of public support of World War II. We do not know how many people used less butter and sugar; restricted their driving; kept their old cars rather than seeking to buy new ones; donated scrap. of one kind or another; conserved electricity; donated phonographs, records, books, magazines, radios, and other things to army camps; aban­doned vacations; worked extra hours; contributed to the many campaigns; and provided volunteer services. Some measuring sticks of the public effort do, however, exist. For example, re-

. stricted driving both in terms of distance and speed reduced high­way accidents in spite of heavy commercial and military travel. The number of strikes and the man-hours lost were drastically cut. The percentage of the labor force employed rose. War bond quotas were met and there was great response to the pleas for the many drives.

Training of Production "Vorkers.

One of the many phases of war activities in which Wisconsin excelled was in the training of war production workers under the

. federally sponsored ·and. financed war production workers pro­grams. The reduction in the labor force' caused by the expansion of the armed forces, the increased production demands, and the development of new products required trained workers. Because it was impossible to train skilled machinists and other craftsmen in the short time allotted, many processes were broken down into a series of tasks for which people could be trained quickly. The vocational school system of the state was admirably suited to this task of training and it is generally conceded that Wisconsin was producing trained employes who were on the job belore most states had established a plan for training.

Wisconsin with Oregon led the nation in the development of apprenticeship programs, a function assigned to the Board of Vocational and A.dult Education.

Of equal Bignific_ance was the food production war training pro­gram which gave instruction. in the use of farm machines, in­creased food production, 'conservation of food, and distribution of foodstuffs.

Many hundreds of physically handicapped persons were trained to enter industry in occupations which minimized their handicaps. The Educational System and ·the War

The war had several effects upon the educational system. It caused a substantial shortage in teachers due to military service and opportunities in other fields. It reduced the number of male college students. It affected curriculums and it resulted in pupils shifting schools as their families moved.

In the public schools. the students helped in drives for sugar and gasoline rationing, war stamps and salvage drives. Many stu­dents had their hours adjusted so they could take part-time jobs to release adults for more important work, and in some cases received credit for work experience. Model airplanes for instruc­tional purposea in the armed forces were made in manual arts classes. Classes in motor repair, radio, welding and similar sub­jects were started and an intensive physical fitness program was instituted to. improve the status of future draftees.

The university not only speeded up its program for training undergraduates, but immediately began a series of service schools.



  1. More than 80 cooks and bakers were trained.

  2. A group of Navy officers was given training in diesel engi­neering.

  3. A group of Marines was instructed in glider piloting.

  4. Over 100 servicewomen were trained in radio code and com­munications.

  5. Several hundred men were trained in machine mechanics.

  6. A group of Army Air Force men were trained as weather­men.

  7. About 6,000 sailors were trained in radio code and commun­ications.

  8. Many thousands of military personnel all over the world used the Armed Forces Institute for correspondence training.

  9. A ski-troop unit was trained on the campus.

  10. A commando unit was also trained.

  11. Civilian pilot training was given to over 600 students.

  12. More than 10,000 students were enrolled in federal engineer­ing, science, and management war training programs.

  13. At least 45 courses designed to permit immediate participa-

tion in the war effort were taught.

  1. Over 100 professors worked on the national defense.

16. Members of the armed forces studied in the Medical School.

  1. Physiotherapy was taught to a group of WACS.

  2. Military government personnel were trained.

The state colleges conducted training in civil and ·military pilot training programs, war industry jobs. radio, mathematics. elec­tronics, map-making, and meteorology. Physical education. teacher training, and military drill were stepped up; and the course was concentrated to permit earlier graduation.
Many hundreds of physically handicapped persons were trained to enter industry in occupations which minimized their handicaps. The Educational System and ·the War

The war had several effects upon the educational system. It caused a substantial shortage in teachers due to military service and opportunities in other fields. It reduced the number of male college students. It affected curriculums and it resulted in pupils shifting schools as their families moved.

In the public schools. the students helped in drives for sugar and gasoline rationing, war stamps and salvage drives. Many stu­dents had their hours adjusted so they could take part-time jobs to release adults for more important work, and in some cases received credit for work experience. Model airplanes for instruc­tional purposea in the armed forces were made in manual arts classes. Classes in motor repair, radio, welding and similar sub­jects were started and an intensive physical fitness program was instituted to. improve the status of future draftees.

The university not only speeded up its program for training undergraduates, but immediately began a series of service schools.



  1. More than 80 cooks and bakers were trained.

  2. A group of Navy officers was given training in diesel engi­neering.

  3. A group of Marines was instructed in glider piloting.

  4. Over 100 servicewomen were trained in radio code and com­munications.

  5. Several hundred men were trained in machine mechanics.

  6. A group of Army Air Force men were trained as weather­men.

  7. About 6,000 sailors were trained in radio code and commun­ications.

  8. Many thousands of military personnel all over the world used the Armed Forces Institute for correspondence training.

  9. A ski-troop unit was trained on the campus.

  10. A commando unit was also trained.

  11. Civilian pilot training was given to over 600 students.

  12. More than 10,000 students were enrolled in federal engineer­ing, science, and management war training programs.

  13. At least 45 courses designed to permit immediate participa-

tion in the war effort were taught.

  1. Over 100 professors worked on the national defense.

16. Members of the armed forces studied in the Medical School.

  1. Physiotherapy was taught to a group of WACS.

  2. Military government personnel were trained.

The state colleges conducted training in civil and ·military pilot training programs, war industry jobs. radio, mathematics. elec­tronics, map-making, and meteorology. Physical education. teacher training, and military drill were stepped up; and the course was concentrated to permit earlier graduation.
Local Government and the War Effort

Counties and municipalities found their activities curtailed by the war as they lost personnel and they could not get the ma­terials with which to work. On the other hand, their work expanded as they had to provide for population changes, the influx of strangers, and a more intense community. Local units, general­ly unable to expend money for capital improvements, began to build surpluses and to make long-range plans for their ultimate use. POlice, health, and sanitation problems arose wherever large groups of people concentrated.



Conclusion

While many homes and businesses displayed blue and gold starred service flags indicating that members of their group were on active duty or had made the supreme sacrifice, there were few outer symbols of the services rendered, often without remunera­tion, by thousands upon thousands of our citizens who worked in industry or agriculture, solicited for every conceivable cause, or who knitted, sewed, or exerted themselves in scores of other ways to further the war effort. There were some shirkers, some who hoarded, some who profited ; but the record made indicates that Wisconsin's citizens, many of whom had relatives among the enemies, gave of their services, their substance and their time, without restraint.


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