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Today in World War II History—July 17, 1944

Damage at US Naval Magazine, Port Chicago from 17 July 1944 explosion. (US Naval History and Heritage Command)

Damage at US Naval Magazine, Port Chicago from 17 July 1944 explosion. (US Naval History and Heritage Command)

75 Years Ago—July 17, 1944: Port Chicago Explosion: freighters E.A. Bryan and Quinalt Victory explode at the US Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, CA, killing 322 (mostly black sailors) in the largest home front disaster of the war; the resulting controversy exposes discrimination in the armed forces and leads to the desegregation of the Navy.

In Normandy, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is injured by a strafing RAF Spitfire.

First-ever use of napalm, by US P-38 Lightnings, on a fuel dump at Coutances, France.

To read more about the Port Chicago Explosion, please see my blog series:

1) Segregation in the armed forces and the situation at Port Chicago.

2) The explosion

3) The work stoppage

4) The mutiny trial

5) The aftermath and desegregation of the US Navy