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Today in World War II History—March 19, 1940 & 1945

Damaged carrier USS Franklin off Japan, 19 Mar 1945; photograph taken from cruiser USS Santa Fe (US National Archives: 80-G-273880)

Damaged carrier USS Franklin off Japan, 19 Mar 1945; photograph taken from cruiser USS Santa Fe (US National Archives: 80-G-273880)

80 Years Ago—March 19, 1940: The Royal Air Force bombs a seaplane base at Hörnum on Sylt Island, the first bombs to land on German soil during the war.

75 Years Ago—March 19, 1945: Hitler issues “Nero Decree” for scorched-earth retreat—Germans are to destroy factories, railroads, and bridges, but the decree is largely ignored.

Off Honshu, Japan, kamikazes damage carrier USS Franklin, killing 894.

Today in World War II History—March 18, 1940 & 1945

Bombe at Bletchley Park, England, 1945 (United Kingdom government photo)

Bombe at Bletchley Park, England, 1945 (United Kingdom government photo)

80 Years Ago—March 18, 1940: Alan Turing’s Bombe electromechanical decipher machine becomes operational at Bletchley Park, England to decrypt German Enigma messages.

Hitler and Mussolini meet at Brenner Pass, and Mussolini agrees to join the war against Britain and France.

Strike photo taken by aircraft from USS Bunker Hill showing an SB2C Helldiver of Squadron VB-84 over Miyazaki Airfield on southern Kyushu, Japan, 18 Mar 1945 (National Museum of Naval Aviation)

Strike photo taken by aircraft from USS Bunker Hill showing an SB2C Helldiver of Squadron VB-84 over Miyazaki Airfield on southern Kyushu, Japan, 18 Mar 1945 (National Museum of Naval Aviation)

75 Years Ago—March 18, 1945: US Task Force 58 carrier aircraft strike 45 airfields on Kyushu, Shikoku, and Honshu in Japan in preparation for the Okinawa landings, destroying about 275 aircraft.

US Eighth Army lands on Panay in the Philippines.

Today in World War II History—March 17, 1940 & 1945

Ludendorff Bridge shortly after the collapse, Remagen, Germany, circa 17 Mar 1945. (US National Archives: ARC 195343)

Ludendorff Bridge shortly after the collapse, Remagen, Germany, circa 17 Mar 1945. (US National Archives: ARC 195343)

80 Years Ago—March 17, 1940: Fritz Todt is named German Minister for Armaments and Munitions.

75 Years Ago—March 17, 1945: Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen collapses under German Ar 234 jet attack, but five US divisions had already crossed—American engineers erect new pontoon bridge in ten hours.

US 5th Marine Division launches assault against last resistance on Iwo Jima at Kitano Point.

Giveaway Winners!

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! The names of the five winners for the main scavenger hunt are posted on Lisa Tawn Bergren‘s site. If you missed my article on “Books in World War II,” it’s still on my blog.

The winner of the individual giveaway of The Land Beneath Us on my post is…

Vickie Watts!

A Distant Melody Audio Book Giveaway

Also, thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway celebrating the audio book release of my first novel, A Distant Melody – and celebrating that novel’s 10th birthday! You can still read the articles about the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-17 crew, and about my ride in a B-17 (with video)! The winners of the audio book codes of A Distant Melody are…

Michele Farley

Deborah Cooney

All winners have been notified by email.

Thanks again!

Today in World War II History—March 16, 1940 & 1945

P-51D Mustangs of the US 47th Fighter Squadron on Iwo Jima prepare for raid on Chichi Jima, Mar 15, 1945; Mt. Suribachi in background (US Army Air Force photo)

P-51D Mustangs of the US 47th Fighter Squadron on Iwo Jima prepare for raid on Chichi Jima, Mar 15, 1945; Mt. Suribachi in background (US Army Air Force photo)

80 Years Ago—March 16, 1940: Luftwaffe bombs Scapa Flow, and the first British civilian is killed (James Isbister, age 27).

75 Years Ago—Mar. 16, 1945: Soviets launch offensive toward Vienna.

Air base opens on Iwo Jima for P-47 and P-51 fighter planes to escort B-29 bombers.

Today in World War II History—March 15, 1940 & 1945

Advertisement about penicillin from Schenley Laboratories, 14 August 1944

Advertisement about penicillin from Schenley Laboratories, 14 August 1944

80 Years Ago—March 15, 1940: Movie premiere of Young Tom Edison, starring Mickey Rooney.

Movie premiere of comedy My Little Chickadee, starring Mae West and W.C. Fields.

75 Years Ago—March 15, 1945: Canadian I Corps enters service in northern Europe after transfer from Italy.

Academy Awards:

  • Best movie of 1944—Going My Way
  • Best actor—Bing Crosby in Going My Way
  • Best actress—Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight
  • Best director—Leo McCarey for Going My Way.

US War Production Board makes penicillin available for civilian use.

Today in World War II History—March 14, 1940 & 1945

Men of US Mars Task Force on Loi-Kang Ridge, Burma, 475th Infantry, 19 January 1945. (US Army Center of Military History)

Men of US Mars Task Force on Loi-Kang Ridge, Burma, 475th Infantry, 19 January 1945. (US Army Center of Military History)

80 Years Ago—March 14, 1940: Germans are required to turn in copper, bronze, brass, lead, tin, nickel, and other metals for the war effort.

Movie premiere of Road to Singapore, starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour.

75 Years Ago—Mar. 14, 1945: First US infantry arrive in China, the Mars Task Force, ferried by the Air Transport Command.

In the RAF’s first use of the 22,000-lb Grand Slam, bombers hit the Bielefeld and Arnsberg rail viaducts, and the Bielefeld viaduct collapses.

Today in World War II History—March 13, 1940 & 1945

Incendiary bombing of Osaka, Japan. (US Army Air Force photo)

Incendiary bombing of Osaka, Japan. (US Army Air Force photo)

80 Years Ago—March 13, 1940: Canada forms Inventions Board to process weapon suggestions from civilians.

Canada discontinues manufacture of civilian trucks.

Punjabi nationalist Udham Singh assassinates former British governor Sir Michael O’Dwyer in London, in retaliation for 1919 Amritsar massacre.

75 Years Ago—Mar. 13, 1945: US B-29s launch fire raid on Osaka, killing 4000 and destroying 119 factories.

51st Field Hospital crosses the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany, the first US hospital to do so.

King Norodom Sihanouk declares Cambodian independence from France (under Japanese), changes name of country to Kampuchea, reinstates Khmer script, ending Romanization of Khmer language.

Today in World War II History—March 12, 1940 & 1945

Finnish foreign minister, Väinö Tanner, reads the terms of the Moscow Peace Treaty on the radio, 13 March 1940 at 12 am (Source: Museovirasto via Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Finnish foreign minister, Väinö Tanner, reads the terms of the Moscow Peace Treaty on the radio, 13 March 1940 at 12 am (Source: Museovirasto via Wikimedia Creative Commons)

80 Years Ago—March 12, 1940: Finland signs treaty with the USSR, ending the Soviet-Finnish Winter War and ceding border lands to the Soviets. In over three months of fighting, 25,000 Finnish soldiers were killed and 200,000 Soviets.

75 Years Ago—Mar. 12, 1945: RAF sends 1108 bombers to Dortmund, Germany, dropping 4851 tons of bombs, an RAF record for both tonnage and bombers to a single target.

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #10

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all the stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!

  • The hunt BEGINS on 3/12 at 11 am PST/ 2 pm EST with Stop #1 at LisaTawnBergren.com.
  • Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).
  • There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 3/15 at 11 pm PST/midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way. Our hope is that you discover new authors and new books and learn new things about them.
  • Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at the final stop, back on Lisa’s site. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way (including me! See below)!

The Land Beneath UsI’m Sarah Sundin, and I enjoy writing about the drama, daring, and romance of the World War II era. You can learn more about me and my books here on my site and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. My latest release is The Land Beneath Us

With his future stolen by his brothers’ betrayal, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the US Army Rangers, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. Leah Jones works as a librarian at the army base, hoping to find her lost sisters. A marriage of convenience binds them together, but will D-day—and a foreboding dream—tear them apart?

To go along with Leah’s librarian bookishness…

Books in World War II

"Soldiers at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, trying to get books from the Service Club Library. Although the library has 5000 books, it is badly in need of more. The average circulation runs about 200 to 300 books per day, with a record of 525 in one day. Miss Maurine Doores is the librarian." January 22, 1942. (Signal Corps Photo #162-42-79 by Weber, 162nd Signal Photographic Company.)

“Soldiers at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, trying to get books from the Service Club Library. Although the library has 5000 books, it is badly in need of more. The average circulation runs about 200 to 300 books per day, with a record of 525 in one day. Miss Maurine Doores is the librarian.” January 22, 1942. (Signal Corps Photo #162-42-79 by Weber, 162nd Signal Photographic Company.)

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, the average American soldier had an eleventh-grade education and didn’t read for pleasure. Hardback books cost $2, expensive considering the average yearly wages of about $2000.

Pocket Books had begun publishing the first mass market paperback books in the United States in July 1939 for only 25¢, but as of 1939, under 200,000 paperbacks were published each year.

Book Burnings

US poster, 1943

US poster, 1943

When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, massive book burnings were held, destroying millions of books by authors who were Jewish, who spoke out against the Nazis, or who had opposing political ideas. And as the Nazis conquered other countries, they burned and confiscated books as well. In all, the Nazis are believed to have destroyed 100 million books.

This censorship and destruction struck deep at the heart of those in the western democracies and reminded them that books and ideas were vital to freedom.

Servicemen Need Books

Soldiers Reading at Camp Forrest Library, Tullahoma, TN, 13 Feb 1942 (US Army Signal Corps)

Soldiers Reading at Camp Forrest Library, Tullahoma, TN, 13 Feb 1942 (US Army Signal Corps)

Boredom kills morale, so the US armed forces provided libraries at training camps and bases. Servicemen were often too exhausted from a day of training to engage in sports, so many frequented the libraries and discovered the joy of a good book.

Poster from the US Victory Book Campaign, 1942-43

Poster from the US Victory Book Campaign, 1942-43

The US Army wanted to have one book per enlisted man. But when the US instituted the peacetime draft in 1940, men flooded the training camps – and their libraries. Local communities held drives to supply the libraries, but it wasn’t enough.

Victory Book Campaign

Poster for the US Victory Book Campaign, 1943

Poster for the US Victory Book Campaign, 1943

Responding to this need, the American Library Association, working with the USO and the American Red Cross, founded the National Defense Book Campaign in November 1941. The following month, after Pearl Harbor, the name was changed to the Victory Book Campaign.

American Red Cross volunteers collect books for the Victory Book Campaign in World War II (US Army Center of Military History)

American Red Cross volunteers collect books for the Victory Book Campaign in World War II (US Army Center of Military History)

The first book drive started January 12, 1942. Throughout the nation, people were urged to donate used books for the soldiers. Various groups collected the books, including the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts. Local libraries sorted the books, which were then sent to Army and Navy camps.

Poster for the US Victory Book Campaign, 1942-43

Poster for the US Victory Book Campaign, 1942-43

While well intentioned, the program had some problems. First, about one-third of the donated books were unusable—worn-out books, children’s books, or titles of little interest to young men. Second, the typical hardback book was heavy and large. Shipping was expensive and used valuable cargo space needed for war materiel, and the books were too unwieldy for the men to carry into combat. Third, by 1943, donations dropped as the supply of excess books decreased.

In May 1943, the Army and Navy declared Victory Book Campaign books were no longer needed, and the program was shut down at the end of the year. Still, the campaign collected 18 million books, 11 million of which were distributed.

Armed Services Editions

Armed Services Edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, in Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division (Library of Congress, photo by Shawn Miller)

Armed Services Edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, in Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division (Library of Congress, photo by Shawn Miller)

In March 1943, the Council on Books in Wartime was founded by 70 representatives of publishing houses. Working with the armed services, they came up with an ingenious—and generous—plan.

Publishers allowed their books to be published in special Armed Services Editions, accepting only 1¢ royalty per volume, to be split between the publisher and the author.

The Armed Services Editions were printed on thin paper with small font, in a size small enough to fit into a uniform trouser pocket. These thin paperbacks were designed to be passed around between servicemen and eventually discarded.

Armed Services Edition of The Story of George Gershwin by David Ewen, in Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division (Library of Congress, photo by Shawn Miller)

Armed Services Edition of The Story of George Gershwin by David Ewen, in Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division (Library of Congress, photo by Shawn Miller)

The Council chose titles in a variety of genres—“dime store” cowboy and detective novels, high literature, history, biography, poetry, humor, and more. The concept was to entertain and to educate, and the Council did not shy away from controversial titles—although they did not publish any that might give “comfort to the enemy.”

Starting in September 1943, thirty Armed Service Edition titles were published each month, with 50,000 copies of each title. Both the quantity of titles and the print runs increased during the war due to high demand.

An Army of Readers

Servicemen bound for Guadalcanal grab books as they board. (U.S. Navy)

Servicemen bound for Guadalcanal grab books as they board. (U.S. Navy)

Men carried the Armed Services Editions into battle, from Omaha Beach to Iwo Jima to Okinawa. They read them to their buddies in their ship’s hammocks. They read by the light of artillery shells at night.

The men found books inspired them, reminding them of why they fought. Books distracted them from the horrors and rigors and boredom of military life. And books taught them new things and opened new doors and windows.

By the time the Armed Services Editions program ended in 1947, 123 million books had been published.

A Nation of Readers

US poster, WWII

US poster, WWII

There was a severe paper shortage in the US from 1943-45 – the publishing industry was restricted to 37.5% of the paper they’d used in 1939. Even so, the number of books published actually increased during the war due to the rise of paperbacks. By 1943, over 40 million paperbacks were being published a year!

With the Victory Book Campaign and the Armed Services Editions and the inexpensive paperbacks, a new generation of readers had been created. Servicemen who’d never considered themselves readers had found that they could read history and poetry—and like it. Books were no longer only for the rich, but for everyone, democracy in action.

After the war, many of the soldiers and sailors and airmen went to college on the GI Bill, inspired and encouraged by the books they’d read—and by realizing they did in fact enjoy reading.

The motto “Books are weapons in the war of ideas” was proven correct. In the end, generosity and freedom triumphed over destruction and censorship, and the whole world benefited.

(For resources, scroll to the bottom of the post)

Stop #10 Basics:

You can order The Land Beneath Us on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook, or at your local bookstore!

Clue to Write Down: But a

Link to Stop #11, the Next Stop on the Loop: Susan Sleeman’s site!

But wait! Before you go, I’m offering an additional book giveaway! Winner’s choice of paperback or CD audio book of The Land Beneath Us! All you have to do is sign up for my email newsletter (top right corner of this page) or be a current subscriber. (US mailing addresses only please). Enter via the Rafflecopter below. The winner will be announced on March 16, 2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Resources:

Manning, Molly Guptill. When Books Went to War. New York: Mariner Books, 2014.

Appelbaum, Yoni. “Publishers Gave Away 122,951,031 Books During World War II.” The Atlantic, 10 September 1941. Accessed 5 March 2020.

Allen, Erin. “Books in Action: The Armed Services Editions.” Library of Congress blog, 30 September 2015. Accessed 5 March 2020.

Brozyna, Andrew. “The Victory Book Campaign.” On the Books for Victory website, 11 June 2012. Accessed 12 June 2012. (Site no longer active).