Few states were as directly affected by the war as Florida. Over a quarter of a million Floridians volunteered or were drafted into the military. Dozens of military bases were established or expanded in the state.
Agriculture was Florida's primary economic contribution to the war effort. The war also spurred Florida's economic development and led to a post war population surge. Wages improved and jobs became plentiful due to the large number of men in service. Women, Blacks and Hispanics moved into professions previously dominated by white males. Black Americans worked toward the "Double V" of victory abroad against fascism and victory at home against racial prejudice.
A tremendous emigration of military personnel into Florida occurred. Additionally, large numbers of civilians came to work in the various camps and bases that were established, and in the shipyards and other industries that expanded during the conflict. Many soldiers, sailors, and marines who served in Florida later returned to the state to live. Florida's population grew 46.1% during the decade of the 1940's, and expanded at an even more rapid pace in the 1950's. World War II helped serve as a catalyst for the state's explosive postwar growth.
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Testing the beach wire net as a barrage balloon and its winch are unloaded from a Higgins-type LCM.
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Florida's tourist industry was initially hurt by restrictions on travel, particularly during the early years of the war. Hotels and restaurants were taken over by the military for use as barracks and mess halls.
Later in the war the tourist trade returned, with Florida promoting itself as a vacation getaway for hard working, and now highly paid, civilian workers. "Like a soldier YOU need a civilian furlough," claimed the Daytona Chamber of Commerce.
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The British ship was torpeoed three miles off Cocoa Beach, Florida. A WWI converted destroyer, owned by Lovett's food chain and used to transport bananas scared off the submarine and rescued the crew.
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One of the 111 ships lost to German submarines in the Gulf Stream, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
United behind the war effort as perhaps never before, Floridians joined both voluntary and mandatory efforts to conserve strategic war materials. Drives to collect rubber, scrap metal, rags, paper, and grease became popular, as did "victory gardens" and "meatless" days to stretch the nation's food resources. Every man, woman, and child in the state received a ration book limiting what could be purchased.
In early 1942, rubber became the first item to be rationed. Gasoline soon followed. In 1943 gasoline rationing became even more severe, with all forms of "pleasure driving" becoming illegal.
Beginning in April 1942, sugar was rationed, followed by coffee, meats, butter, canned goods, dried peas and beans, and a variety of other products. In addition to food, other consumer products such as shoes and clothing were rationed or restricted. Many items, including alcohol, were not rationed but were in chronically short supply.
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Ida Engler at the microphone.
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August 15, 1945.