State Defense Council. Division of Transportation and Communications
Florida Motorized Civil Unit records, 1940-1943
1.25 cubic ft.
Biographical / Historical Note:
The Florida Motorized Civil Unit was the brainchild of Guy H. Allen, Tampa branch manager of American Oil Company, and was created to counter possible invasion landings by German submarines in the Gulf of Mexico before the United States entry into World War II in 1941. Allen worried that Florida's long coastline left it vulnerable to saboteur units and spies, so he began writing letters to the U.S. War Department and to Claude Pepper, U.S. Senator from Florida,in which he urged the formation of a motorcycle cavalry in regular Army units. The government did not take up his proposal, so Allen started the Florida Motorcycle Corps in August, 1940, under the sponsorship of local chambers of commerce.
Momentum dwindled in the unit as members were volunteering their own time and expenses; as a consequence, the corps suspended its operations temporarily. With the creation of the State Defense Council in 1941, the corps finally achieved some official status and had as its prime objective to escort military truck convoys. Allen worked at the state level in the State Defense Council's Division of Transportation and Communication and Subdivision of Motor Escort and Transportation. The operation expanded to include taxicabs and trucks by the time the United States entered the war and a mass mobilization was scheduled for January 11, 1942. Wartime pressures on the "home guard"eventually took their toll as men had to dropout in order to enroll in regular military service and as shortages of rubber tires and gasoline mounted. Also as the war turned to Allied offensives in Europe and in the South Pacific, civil defense lost its urgency.
Summary Scope Note:
The series contains correspondence,organization files, memoranda, news clippings, and county files of the Florida Motorized Civil Unit and later of the Subdivision of Motor Escort and Transportation from 1940 to 1943. Also included are the papers of Guy Allen relating to the creation of this unit and to his plans to build motorized cavalry units behind enemy lines.