Rhode Island's contribution to World War II vastly exceeded its small size. Narragansett Bay was an armed camp dotted by army forts and navy facilities. They included the country's most important torpedo production and testing facilities at Newport and the Northeast's largest naval air station at Quonset Point. Three special, top-secret German POW camps were based in Narragansett and Jamestown. Meanwhile, Rhode Island workers from all over the stateincluding, for the first time, many womenmanufactured military equipment and built warships, most notably the Liberty ships at Providence Shipyard. Authors from the Rhode Island history blog smallstatebighistory.com trace Rhode Island's outsized wartime role, from the scare of an enemy air raid after Pearl Harbor to the war's final German U-boat sunk off Point Judith.
About the Author
Christian McBurney, the primary editor of this book and the editor and publisher of the Online Review of Rhode Island History, has written seven books on Rhode Island and/or Revolutionary War history. For more information on his books go to www.christian.mcburney.com.
Brian L. Wallin spent the first half of his career as a radio and television journalist for major stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the second half working as a healthcare executive for hospital systems in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In addition to being a frequent contributor to the Online Review of Rhode Island History, he is a trustee of the Varnum Continentals historic militia and the Varnum Armory Museum.
Patrick T. Conley is president of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, president of the Heritage Harbor Foundation, chairman of the Rhode Island Publications Society and currently serving as the first historian laureate of the State of Rhode Island. For more information on the twenty-six books he has authored, as well as other Rhode Island history books, go to www.ripublications.org.
John W. Kennedy is a retired naval officer who for the last seven and a half years served as the director of education and community outreach for the Naval War College Museum at Newport. In that capacity, he ran the popular Eight Bells history lecture series. He retired in 2016.
Maureen A. Taylor is the author of sixteen books on family history and photography, as well as Rhode Island history. The Wall Street Journal called her "the nation's foremost photo detective." For more information on her books, go to www.maureentaylor.com.
Table of Contents
Preface Christian McBurney Brian P. Wallin 9
1 Pearl Harbor Attack Panics Rhode Islanders Christian McBurney 13
2 The Torpedo Station at Newport Brian L. Wallin 19
3 The Naval Air Station at Ouonset Point and the Naval Auxiliary Air Fields at Charlestown and Westerly Christian McBurney 31
4 Seabees, Pontoons and Quonset Huts at Davisville Christian McBurney 47
5 The PT Boat Training Center at Melville Brian L. Wallin 55
6 The Growth of Naval Activity and Its Effect on Aquidneck Island John W. Kennedy 65
7 Liberty Ships and More: Civilian Workers and Manufacturers Bolster the War Effort Patrick T. Conley 77
8 Women at Work Outside the Home Christian McBurney 89
9 The Rise of Day Nurseries in Providence Maureen A. Taylor 99
10 The U.S. Army Handles Coastal Defense Brian L. Wallin 103
11 The Top-Secret Prisoner-of-War Camp at Fort Kearney in Narragansett Christian McBurney Brian L. Wallin 113
12 The Special Prisoner-of-War Camps at Forts Getty and Wetherill in Jamestown Christian McBurney Brian L. Wallin 127
13 The Battle of Point Judith and the Sinkings of Black Point and U-853 Christian McBurney 137
14 Reflection, Relief and Rowdiness: Rhode Islanders React to the End of World War II Maureen A. Taylor 151
Appendix A Location of U.S. Naval Aircraft in Rhode Island and Aircraft Types and Numbers-A Sampling at Various Dates 157
Appendix B Naval Facilities in Rhode Island in World War II Showing Peak Personnel at Each Location 161
About the Authors 191