Posted on March 2nd, 2017 by:

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When John L. Lewis pulled his coal-mine strike, the men in the Army got sore and nobody could blame them. It seemed criminal for workers at home to be walking out of their job at a time when the nation was in danger and Americans were dying on the fighting fronts.

Months have passed since the dispute between Lewis and the War Labor Board was settled and the miners returned to the pits, but the wave of anger and resentment against the workers at home that broke out at the time still flickers in New Guinea, China, Africa, Italy and other places in the world where the Army is stationed. Remembering Lewis, plenty of soldiers still feel that the average American worker is interested only in making money and doesn’t know that there is a war going on overseas.  There’s  been a lot of talk and latrine rumors about war production slipping and the U.S. home front being in a terrible mess.

wwii war workers

B-24 Liberators being built at the Vultee plant in Fort Worth, TX

Strangely enough that impression of the American worker as a goldbricking money grabber does not jibe with the facts and figures of U.S. production in the last few months, revealed by President Roosevelt in his recent message to Congress.

“Our war factories and plants and shipyards,” the President said, “are now working at full blast turning out the greatest amount of war production in the history of the world. During the two months of the recess of Congress our factories produced approximately 15,000 planes.  There was an especially important increase in the production of heavy bombers in August. During those same two months American shipyards put into commission a total of 281 ships, almost five a day.”

The President also revealed that:

During the first eight months of 1943, American workers produced 52,000 planes, 23,000 tanks, 40,600 artillery weapons and 4,638,000 rifles, carbines and machine guns.

The completion of Navy ships in the last six months were equal to completions in the entire year of 1942.

During the month of August 1943, we produced almost as many torpedoes as we did during the whole first World War.

Since the outbreak of war in Europe, we have increased our output of petroleum by 66 percent, bituminous-coal production 40 percent, chemicals 300 percent, iron ore 125 percent and steel 106 percent.

It seems strange that America was able to accomplish this terrific task of production if the average worker at home was interested only in getting a raise and didn’t know or care about the war overseas. The truth is, of course, that absentees and goldbrickers crop up in the factories and mines and shipyards—just a they do in the armed forces—but they represent only a very small minority.

The average American worker is doing his job. And he knows only too well that there is a war going on.

wwii cartoon russian war workers

German reinforcements arrive in Russia.

For More Reading on American War Production Check Out:

The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War

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