• Called to Action:
    California's Role in WW2

  • Called to Action:
    California's Role in WW2

  • Called to Action:
    California's Role in WW2

  • Called to Action:
    California's Role in WW2

  • Called to Action:
    California's Role in WW2

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California Transformed

California Transformed

Sunday, December 7, 1941.

History would never be the same after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. America's entry into the Second World War (1939-45) would prove to be the decisive turning point in the greatest conflict of the Twentieth Century. The nation, and the state of California, would never be the same, either. World War II would bring monumental changes to the Golden State, change as had not been seen since 1848. After the Gold Rush, the next most transformative event in California's history was “the War.”

Even as the dark clouds of war loomed over the horizons of Asia and Europe in the 1930s, many Americans were reluctant to enter into yet another World War. Many Californians, like their fellow countrymen, found comfort in isolationism and escapist media of the time. Still, some realized the inevitability of war and began to prepare the country and its people for its eventual outbreak.

The Golden State would be central to the national war effort. California's fields and factories would provide the largest amount of food and war material in the country. Over 800,000 Californians would eventually serve in the armed forces and millions of Americans would be trained at California installations or be shipped out through California embarkation centers. Over one and a half million more would flock to the Golden State to fill the ever growing need for defense workers.

The rapid changes that the war set into motion between 1941 and 1945 would usher in a new era for California. The state went from a rural, agricultural way of life to an urban society based on industry and technology. The Golden State saw its pre-war economy transformed by this Second Gold Rush into the world class one that it is today.

Sunday, December 7, 1941. Historywould never be the same afterJapan's attack on America. And so itwould be for the nation and the state of California as well. The Second World War (1939-1945) would bring monumental changes to the Golden State, change as had not been seen since 1848. After the Gold Rush, the next most transformative event in California's history was “the War.” Even as the dark clouds of war loomed over the horizons of Asia and September 1, 1939. World War II in Europe erupted. America was not prepared for war. The Army, which included the Air Corps, numbered only 188,000 Regular Army soldiers, 200,000 National Guardsmen, and 139,000 Reservists. Its strength was rated nineteenth in the world, just behind Romania. Twenty-six percent of the Army served overseas. It was an army designed for colonial policing, border patrols, and coastal defense. The Army had only 329 obsolete light Europe in the 1930s, many Americans were reluctant to enter into yet another World War. Many Californians, like their fellow countrymen, found comfort in isolationism and escapist media of the time. Still, many realized the inevitability of war and began to prepare the country and its people for the outbreak of war.

Over 800,000 Californians would eventually serve in the armed forces and millions more would be trained at California installations or be shipped out through California embarkation centers. Over one and a half million more would flock to the Golden State to fill the ever growing need for defense workers.

Between 1941 and 1945, Californians would see their state go from a rural, agricultural based economy to one centered on industry and technology. The Golden State saw its pre-war economy transformed by this Second Gold Rush into the world class economy that it is today.

State of Defense

September 1, 1939. World War II in Europe erupted. America was not prepared for war. The Army, which included the Air Corps, numbered only 188,000 Regular Army soldiers, 200,000 National Guardsmen, and 139,000 Reservists. Its strength was rated nineteenth in the world, just behind Romania. Twenty-six percent of the Army served overseas. It was an army designed for colonial policing, border patrols, and coastal defense.

The Army had only 329 obsolete light tanks and approximately 1,800, mostly obsolete, aircraft. Harbor defenses were of Spanish-American War era design and lacked overhead protection from aerial attack. Soldiers were supplied mostly with World War I weapons and equipment. Despite a building and modernization program that started in the mid-1930s, a large portion of the Navy, including all of its battleships, dated to World War I. Shipyards took over a year to build a destroyer and several years to build larger ships.