1939 - 1944
U.S. Recognises Franco Spain; Hitler takes over Czechoslovakia Washington April 1. 1939.
Nearly three months after President Roosevelt, in his inaugural message to Congress, warned of the threat to democracy posed by the rising tide of fascism, the United States has extended diplomatic recognition to the recently victorious Spanish government of General Francisco Franco. The move, however, is not viewed as an expression of approval of the regime, but an acceptance of the reality of the situation, along the same lines as the recognition of the Soviet government. Moreover, most observers say the Franco regime has neither the means nor the intention of spreading its brand of dictatorship beyond its own borders.
60 nations on display as FDR opens the New York World’s Fair. Apr. 30, 1939.
At 3.12 p.m., President Roosevelt announced that the New York World’s Fair was “open to all mankind.” But not all mankind is represented at The World of Tomorrow. The 60 nations exhibiting do not include  Germany, Spain or China, and today’s crowd was relatively meagre. Officials say 600,000; other put the total at 150,000. Still, the throng cheered as Albert Einstein tried in a meagre 5 minutes to explain how cosmic rays work before he hit a switch  that made those rays light up the exposition. ”All those who come to the Fair will find that the eyes of the United States are fixed on the future“ stated President Roosevelt.
Dying Lou Gehrig is “luckiest man alive” New York July 4, 1939
There was a  terrible sadness in the crowd of 61,808 fans today as Lou Gerhig, his voice echoing through Yankee stadium said “I have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for; I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.” Big Lou is wasting away from the fatal amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
U.S. Neutral as war erupts in Europe. Sept. 4, 1939.
Following Hitler’s brutal and unprovoked attack on Poland three days ago, Britain and France have honoured their treaty obligation to the Poles and declared war on Germany. Broadcasting from London, Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain announced the fact to the British people. Neutrality is the policy of the United states. In a fireside chat on Labor Day, President Roosevelt told the American people that he hated war and would do everything possible to keep America out.
Presidential panel discusses atomic bomb. Washington Oct. 21 1939
A newly appointed Advisory Committee on Uranium met here today to consider the possibility of building weapons of unlimited destructive power. The committee was created by President Roosevelt after he received a letter from Albert Einstein saying that “vast amounts o power” could be released by setting up nuclear chain reactions in a large mass of uranium. There are indications that German scientists are already working on such a uranium bomb, Einstein’s letter warned. The committee is headed by Lyman Briggs, director of the Bureau of Standards.
Population 131.6 million; Oklahoma’s off 1940.
The nation’s population climbed to a new high of 131.6 million, and average life expectancy has reached 63 years, the 1940 census shows. Signs of progress show illiteracy rate of only 4.2%  , the 30 million American homes that have radios and the 330% of farms that now have electricity. But a bitter reminder of the dust bowls the loss of population by hard-hit Oklahoma, down 60,000 and South Dakota down 50,000 since 1930.
Hemingway: For Whom the Bell Tolls Havana, Cuba 1940
From Lookout Farm, a little villa near Havana, Ernest Hemingway is enjoying the success of his new novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” For the rugged author, both the moment of repose and the fact that people are buying his book in droves are unusual experiences. Hemingway is often indistinguishable from his hard drinking, adventuresome heroes. He spent most of the Spanish Civil War reporting from the front lines and raising funds for Republican loyalists.
As France falls, U.S. Moves from neutrality to non-belligerency. Virginia June 10, 1940.
In a speech at the University of Virginia that marks a shift away from a policy of strict neutrality  to one of non-belligerency, President Roosevelt declared today, “We are convinced that military and naval victory for the gods of force and  hate would endanger the institutions of democracy in the Western world, and that equally, therefore, the whole of our sympathies lie with those nations that are giving their life blood in combat against these forces.”
Lending substance to the President’s words are such recent actions as his sending to Congress a military supply measure that is to provide more than $1.3 billion to build up the armed forces of Great Britain.
FDR back for an unprecedented 3rd Term. New York, Nov.5, 1940.
President Roosevelt achieved a sweeping victory  today, becoming the first man in history elected to a third term in the White House. The jubilant president, addressing the crowd outside his home here, promised to be “the same Franklin Roosevelt you have known.” Wendell Wilkie carrying 38 states with 449 electoral votes, the margin was not of the landslide proportions of four years ago.
FDR had less than solid support this year from organised labour, but in the end the nations signalled their approval of the President’s efforts to pull the nation out of the Great Depression with a monumental program of public works, relief programs, Social Security for older Americans, banking reforms, crop control and rural electrification.
Mount Rushmore Memorial, a Monument to American Freedom. South Dakota Nov. 1, 1941.
The faces of Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln can look over the Black Hills unencumbered by scaffolding and labourers now that drilling is completed on America’s latest monument , Mount Rushmore. Although workers were exhorted to “Rush More,” the project was not finished before the death  of its designer, John Gutson de la Mothe Borglum, on March 6. Sculptor Borglum accepted the commission in 1925 while on the run from the state of Georgia and a memorial project he abandoned there. The Rushmore venture was not without problems. The reasons for honouring Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln were obvious but the choice of Roosevelt caused debate.
Freighter sunk; emergency declared Washington May, 27,1941
The tenuous neutrality between the United States and Germany in the Atlantic has been dealt  a severe blow by the sinking of the Robin Moore by the German U-boat U-69. President Roosevelt is furious because he sees it as another in a series of un-preventable events that will force the United States into the war regardless of how hard his government tries to avert it. The resident’s reaction to the sinking was quick and vehement. In an address to Congress, he proclaimed an unlimited national emergency. And spoke of the incident as an example “of the acts of an international outlaw.” He also accused Germany of a “policy of frightfulness and intimidation” The incident would never have happened if the U-boat captain Just Metzler, had been obeying orders. Hitler does not want to provoke the Americans .
Yankee Clipper hits in 56 games in row. Ohio July 17, 1941.
It had to happen some time. Joe DiMaggio’s record streak of hitting safely in consecutive games was halted at 56 tonight by the Cleveland Indians before a record crowd of 67,468. ‘Joltin Joe’ who was last  held hitless two months ago, bounced into a double play with the bases loaded in the eighth, his last time at bat, but the Yankees pulled out a 4-3 victory.
Whirlaway is fifth Triple Crown victor. June 1941
Whirlaway was a strong-willed fractious animal, and it was said that if someone could curb his temperament, the horse could win the Kentucky Derby. So trainer Ben Jones did just that and Whirlaway, with Eddie Arcaro aboard, won not only the Derby but the Preakness and Belmont as well to become the fifth Triple Crown winner.
Japanese launch surprise attack on pearl Harbour Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941.
“AIR RAID! PEARL HARBOUR! THIS IS NO DRILL!. Those words, broadcast at 7.57 on this peaceful Sunday morning by Admiral Patrick Bellinger, shattered the complacency of the United States military. By 8 a.m two battleships had been dealt fatal blows and hundreds of American sailors had been killed. The Japanese Empire using aircraft carriers within 300 miles of Pearl Harbour, launched wave after wave of torpedo bombers, dive bombers and fighters against soldiers, sailor and airmen  who just started into their Sunday morning routines.
Within 2 hours the navy lost 2,000 men killed and 710 wounded, while the army and marines lost 327 killed and 433 wounded. Also killed were 70 civilians mostly airfield workers, as were a few Honolulu residents. By 9.45 a.m the Japanese aircraft had returned to their carriers. But 29 did not make it back, which is a remarkable loss figure considering how completely the Americans had been surprised.
America declares war. Dec.11 1941.
Declaring Sunday, Dec. 7, “a date which will live in infamy,” President Roosevelt on Monday, asked congress to declare war on Japan. Congress hastened to comply and war was declared six and a half minutes later. The Senate vote as unanimous. In the House of representatives there was one dissenting vote, Jeanette Rankin of Montana.
Japanese overrun Pacific islands. Philippines Dec. 1941.
The Japanese following up on their surprise attack on Pearl Harbour, have continued to astonish the world with successful assaults all across the Western Pacific. In the early hours of Dec. 8, Japanese naval and air forces struck almost simultaneously at Khota Bharu, Singora in Thailand, Guam, Hong Kong, wake island and the Philippines
Santa Barbara hit by Japanese sub. California Feb. 23, 1942.
A Japanese submarine shelled a Richfield Oil Company refinery at nearby Elmwood field yesterday in the first such attack on the mainland. Most of the shells whistled harmlessly past derricks and tanks. The only damage $500 in damaged wood on a pump-house roof. Southern California defence officials had rushed into action. Sirens wailed, broadcasts were interrupted and 30 miles of coast blacked out.
American forces surrender on Bataan. Philippines Apr. 9, 1942.
Quiet and modest Major General Edward P.King Jr., commander of the Luzon force under General Douglas MacArthur, has surrendered his army of 76,000 exhausted men to the Japanese. It is the greatest defeat for the American military to date. The battle for the Bataan peninsula began for the defending Americans and Filipinos with the fall of Manila to the Japanese on January 2. Bataan lies due west of Manila and juts into Manila bay. South of Bataan lies the two square mile island of Corregidor, shaped like a tadpole, Where MacArthur’s remaining troops are still holding out in the island fortress that is known as “The Rock.”
Japanese-Americans are imprisoned. Washington December 1942.
Swept by post Pearl Harbour hysteria that portrays every ethnic Japanese as a potential saboteur, the government has taken a step without precedent in American history: it has interned behind barbed wire 110,000  of its citizens, more than two thirds born in the United States.
At the urging of politicians and the army to remove the large Japanese-American population settled on the west Coast and in Hawaii, President Roosevelt signed Executive order 9066 on February 19. Authorising the War Department to remove “all persons” from designated military areas. Congress has made it a federal offence to defy the army and established the War Relocation Authority to oversee the transfer
Eisenhower commander in Europe. June 25, 1942.
A relatively obscure officer has been named commander of American forces in the European theatre of operations. He is major-general Dwight D. Eisenhower. He has served under both Generals MacArthur and Geo. C. Marshall.
American navy  turns tide at Midway. June 6, 1942.
Despite their overwhelming military superiority in the Pacific, the Japanese have suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of midway. They lost one heavy cruiser, four fleet carriers and 330 aircraft, most of which went down on the carriers. The Americans, on the other hand, lost only one carrier and 150 aircraft.
Atoms in chain reaction. Chicago Dec. 2, 1942.
The road to nuclear power was opened today when the world’s first sustained nuclear chain reaction was achieved in a makeshift facility under the stands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. Though the amount of energy released was small, it was energy from the atomic nucleus, a potentially unlimited source of power. Working in freezing conditions, a team of scientists under the direction of the brilliant Italian physicist Enrico Fermi built what the call an “atomic pile” consisting of blocks of graphite containing uranium. Fissioning of the uranium nucleus releases energy and neutrons that split other nuclei, in a potentially endless reaction.
US defeats Japanese at Guadalcanal Feb. 9, 1943.
Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, received the following radio message from General Alexander patch on Guadalcanal: “total and complete defeat of Japanese forces on Guadalcanal effected today. Tokyo Express no longer has a terminus on Guadalcanal.” These words mark the first major offensive victory for the United states in the Pacific and the end of seven months of bitter and savage struggle for the navy and marines. The Americans now hold some 2,500 miles of swamp and jungle-covered volcanic mountains.
60,000 Amreicans dead in battle. Washington 1943.
Figures released by the government on January 5 point up the terrible price that American families are paying as their sons go into the fighting. Some 60,000 American soldiers have been killed, and many more are certain to die before the war is over. Nevertheless with every day that passes, the American resolve to win toughens.
“Oklahoma!” wins raves from press. New York. Mar. 31, 1943.
The musical Oklahoma has the critics groping for adjectives, which means it is in a class by itself. Reasons are easy to find with songs like Oh, what a beautiful morning, The Surrey with the Fringe on Top, People will say we’re in love and of course the title song. A perfect cast is headed by Alfred Drake, Joan Roberts, Howard da Silva and Celeste Holm. Equally important, the Americans yearn for a sentimental, nostalgic glimpse of an era when life was more direct, less complicated than now.
Allies battle their way into italy. Naples Oct.3, 1943
The Allies, after three successful invasions of Italy, have conquered Sicily, and worked their way up the ‘boot’ to Naples and Foggia. The campaign began with the Sicilian invasion on July 10, when an armada of 3,000 ships unloaded 500,000 Allied soldiers along the southern beaches of the island. The Axis powers had 350,000 men to defend Italy, with six mobile German divisions at the core.
Although the landings were relatively easy, the Germans counterattacked on July 11.  Armoured strikes were beaten off and the British Eighth Army and the American Third began pushing north and west towards Messina. The Germans and Italians never intended to stay and fight in Sicily, and soon pulled their troops back to the  mainland.
D-Day Allied troops storm beaches at Normandy. June 6, 1944.
The Allies successfully landed about 150,000 men on the Normandy coast of France today, and Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” was breached. “Operation Overlord,” the code name of the invasion of France across the English Channel, began at 6.30am and through the day - D-Day - thousands of men and tons of equipment were put ashore on five designated beaches. The invasion began much earlier farther inland. Two divisions of Americans, the 82nd and 101st, Airborne, left England at midnight and began dropping into their landing zones about 1a.m. High winds scattered the paratroopers and most put down far from their intended targets. Nevertheless, small groups were quickly formed and began to attack Germans causing confusion and disarray.
Paris rejoices as Nazi grip is broken. Aug.25, 1944
The great race for Paris is over and the liberation of the city has become a frenzied tumultuous celebration. Originally, the Allies had intended to bypass the French capital because the Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower, did not want the problem of feeding several million people. But General Charles De Gaulle, who led the Free French forces, began acting on his own as soon as he arrived from Algeria and told General Phillipe LeClerc to go for Paris regardless of Eisenhower’s wishes.
“I have returned” says MacArthur. Philippines Oct 25, 1944.
As the United states Sixth Army landed on the island of Leyte, General Douglas MacArthur, with film cameras rolling, announced “People of the Philippines, I have returned”. And as ground forces began to fight it out on the large island in the centre of the Philippine archipelago, the Japanese prepared a counter-attack called the “Sho plan” or victory plan. The result was the Americans in control of the entire Pacific.
Glenn Miller lost. Paris Dec. 24, 1944.
Americans have apparently lost one of their most beloved music makers - the band leader Glenn Miller, who left civilian life to play with the Air Force Band. On December 16, Major Miller took a plane from England for  Paris. The weather as bad, the plane never arrived and no traces have been found. Hopes that he might yet turn up were dimmed today when the 40 year-old Miller was officially listed as missing  and presumed dead. The smoothly understated sound of Miller’s music chrystalised with the formation of his second band in 1939.  His recordings on In the Mood, and Moonlight Serenade are classics.
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