Favorable weather and ample land made Florida one of the primary areas selected for military base construction during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, more than 200 military installations were built or expanded in Florida, which required 1.2 million acres of land and cost $306 million.
Florida’s beaches and rivers helped prepare troops for amphibious landings and jungle combat. The military used Wakulla Springs, south of Tallahassee, to conduct training for troops expected to see combat in the wetlands and jungles of Southeast Asia. The film clip below shows soldiers wading into the water, climbing trees, and learning to operate and handle their equipment while partially submerged in water.
- Analyze a primary source document (film).
- Write about military training in Florida using primary sources.
Next Generation Sunshine State Standards
- SS.4.A.1.1: Analyze primary and secondary resources to identify significant individuals and events throughout Florida history.
- SS.4.A.7.3: Identify Florida’s role in World War II.
Examples may include, but are not limited to, warfare near Florida’s shores and training bases in Florida (Miami, Tampa, Tallahassee, etc.), spying near the coast, Mosquito Fleet.
LAFS.4.RI.1.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
- Motion Picture Analysis Sheet from the National Archives and Records Administration
- Wakulla Springs & WWII Troop Maneuvers film clip from the State Archives of Florida
Part I: Introducing Content
- Teachers should review previously discussed material dealing with Florida’s role in World War II, particularly as a hub for military training.
- Conduct an in-class discussion/survey of students’ prior knowledge about the nature of warfare during World War II, and the particular advantages of training in Florida.
- What type of environmental conditions make Florida well suited for military training?
- How do you think the military used different environments (beach, rivers, swamps, etc.) to help train soldiers for combat?
- Teachers should explain to students that they are going to watch a short film clip that shows troop maneuvers and training techniques undertaken at Wakulla Springs near Tallahassee.
- Teachers should give students brief background on the film clip, particularly why Wakulla Springs was chosen as a site for amphibious training (mimicked conditions for swamp and jungle warfare in Southeast Asia).
Part II: Film Analysis
- Students will analyze the film of Wakulla Springs & WWII Troop Maneuvers using the Motion Picture Analysis Sheet.
- The teacher should conduct an in-class discussion/survey of what students learned from the film clip.
- Are you surprised by anything you saw in the film clip?
- Do you think this type of training would prepare soldiers for combat in swamps or jungles?
Part III: Writing about Military Training in Florida
Students should summarize what they learned about military training in Florida during World War II, specifically why the military chose sites like Wakulla Springs for amphibious exercises.
Students can further explore military training in Florida using photographs.