South Carolinians in World War II

Introduction

World War II includes the stories of many people, places, and events. The Allied Powers led by Great Britain, France, Russia and the United States, and supported by other nations such as Canada and Australia, fought against the Axis Powers of Japan, Germany, and Italy. Conflicts in the 1930s in China, Ethiopia, and Spain were preludes to a global war that began with Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland. The United States entered the war after Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. For six horrific years, battles in both European and Pacific Theaters marked a global struggle for freedom and power. The Axis powers won early victories, flexing their imperialistic might. Yet, the Allied forces ultimately celebrated victory in Europe on May 8th, 1945 and over Japan on August 15th, 1945.

War Bonds poster. Doing all you can, brother? Buy War Bonds.  Factory ID Badges for Columbia Mills  Thompson Machine Gun, c.1940  Victory Mail (or V-mail)

The United States sent 16 million troops to serve in the war. Over 400,000 Americans died in the conflict and sacrifices were made at home as well. The United State’s contribution to the war effort relied greatly upon the local and individual efforts of her people. The stories told herein highlight the role of South Carolinians on both European and Pacific front lines and at the home front. These stories include historical accounts of South Carolina soldiers at D-Day and at Iwo Jima.

From resources at the South Carolina State Museum, we can learn about the American Red Cross, Fort Jackson and local Prisoner of War camps. We can also learn about the Charleston Navy Yard and civilian textile mills. Finally, by looking at rationing, propaganda posters, and letters exchanged between soldiers abroad and folk at home, we can learn about South Carolina’s place in World War II history.