Previous    Next    Contents   


CHAPTER 1

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

By 1939, World War II had begun in Europe and Asia; executive orders by President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the construction of new factories, munitions plants and military installations. On May 27, 1941, President Roosevelt declared the existence of an unlimited emergency, beginning a period of intense preparation which ended when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941 (War Hist. 1:4:4) .

A part of this effort was the establishment of several military facilities in Southern New Jersey for the Army, Navy, and Coast Guard. Atlantic City was considered a strategically located and environmentally healthy choice as this paper will show.

The Saturday Evening Post, in 1943, first dubbed the military takeover of Atlantic Cityís hotels, and the resulting operations, as Camp Boardwalk. This "camp" was established from 1942 to 1946, when Atlantic City became a military complex.

No paper on this subject would be complete without the acknowledgment of the influence of the Naval Air Station as well. The Naval Air Station Atlantic City (NASAC) was commissioned on April 24, 1943, and was located at Pomona on 2,100 acres of land owned by Atlantic City (Unbound NASAC 1). Construction of a municipal

 

 

1

airport had been started six months before as a Works Progress Administration (WPA)

venture. In their preparations for war, the United States Army and Navy military forces helped to change Atlantic City, as well as the surrounding areas, forever.

Although there were many proud accomplishments, few people today, even local residents, know of them. It is the object of this thesis to record and recognize what was performed in and around Atlantic City during the second world war.

When the idea to write on Atlantic Cityís contribution to the war efforts of World War II was conceived, it was thought that all one had to do was travel to the Federal Aviation Agency Technical Centerís Public Relations and History Department for the Naval records, and to the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland, in order to locate all records and reports concerning Army Air Forces Basic Training Center No. 7.

The Federal Aviation Agency Technical Center held no data prior to 1958. The majority of the data cited in the Naval Air Station Atlantic City portion of this paper is from the Navy Archives at the Navy Yard Library, Washington, District of Columbia. After three trips to the National Archives for Army documentation, all that could be located were the annual reports from Thomas M. England General Hospital. No information from the activities of the 31st and 32nd companies of the Womenís Army Auxiliary Corps (WAC), the Basic Training Center, or the Redistribution Center, that was established the following year, was discovered. Questioning one of the archivists about the location of these records revealed the reason. Some years ago, in order to reduce the amount of space needed for storing such records, it was decided that any records not directly related to medical or combat units were considered unimportant for preservation and were ordered destroyed. Additionally, thousands of men and women who participated in this period of Southern New Jersey history, are dying without journals of their personal accounts being made. It is vitally important that a comprehensive chronicle be done in order to record and preserve their contributions to the war effort.

Research began at the United States Naval Station Library at the Navy Yard Washington, District of Columbia, and progressed to archival research through unbound, declassified Naval documents. The National Archives II, in College Park, Maryland, was the source for Army Air Forcesí documents, which at that time was not called Army Air Corps, as:

. . . the logical progress from recognition of the Army Air Corps, first in the Air Corps Act of 1926 . . . did not reach conclusion until the United States Air Force was created in 1947. . . . in World War II War Department Circular No. 59 (effective March 9, 1942) had made the Army Air Forces one of the autonomous and coordinate commands under the Army Chief of Staff (Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol.1, 460).

Informal personal interviews were held and searches were made through the personal papers and scrapbooks of former Atlantic City Mayor Thomas Taggart. These papers are held in the Heston Room of the Atlantic City Public Library. Newspaper and magazine

articles, some of which were augmented from private sources, are located at various libraries throughout the county.

This thesis is the first comprehensive study of how and why the city of Atlantic City, with the full support of United States Senior Senator William H. Smathers (New Jersey), its Mayor Thomas Taggart, city commissioners, the hotel and property owners, and the surrounding communities, banded together in a united effort to help win the war and do what they could for those in the military. There were no divisions based on race, religion, or economic status; pride in the city and pride in the country drove their efforts.