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Long IslandHistory

World War II on Long Island: Battle from the home front

As America went to war, Long Islanders answered the call by heading off to fight in Europe and Asia. On Long Island, though, signs of the war effort were everywhere. The war effort could be seen at Nassau's Mitchel Field and Roosevelt Field all the way out east to Yaphank and Westhampton. For civilians, rationing, calls to buy war bonds and news from the front were constant reminders of the war. Grumman's Bethpage plant, meanwhile, continued to turn out F-6 Hellcat fighters as civilians strived to do their part. Here are some scenes that take us back to the 1940s and wartime Long Island. 

 

 

 

 

Long Island goes to war

Must credit Nassau County Museum, Long Island Studies
Photo Credit: Nassau County Museum/Long Island Studies Institute

Answering the call to service,  soldiers line up at the Mineola Station in  1942.

Enlisted men spend leisure time reading and relaxing
Photo Credit: Newsday

There was plenty of military activity on Long Island during the war. In 1942, Civil Air Patrol squadrons were established at Westhampton Beach and Roosevelt Field. Here, enlisted men spend leisure time reading and relaxing in their bunks at Roosevelt Field when it served as a miliary base in 1942. 

Camp Upton in Yaphank

circa 1940's -- Yaphank, NY -- CAMP UPTON
Photo Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Camp Upton in Yaphank, circa 1940s, was built for use as an Army induction center. Later it was converted into a convalescent hospital. After the war was over, in January 1947, the facility became the  Brookhaven National Laboratory.

circa 1940's -- Yaphank, NY -- The chapel
Photo Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

The chapel at Camp Upton during the 1940s.

The Coast Guard gets ready

APPLYING ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION TO 'VICTIM' AT TIANA LIFEBOAT
Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Members of the Coast Guard practice artficial respiration techniques at Coast Guard Lifeboat Station Tiana in Southampton. An African-American crew manned the station between 1942 and 1944, according to the Coast Guard,

Roosevelt Field revs up

Three mechanics work on a plane at Roosevelt
Photo Credit: Newsday

Mechanics work on a plane at Roosevelt Field in 1942.

Aircraft sit at Roosevelt Field military base in
Photo Credit: Newsday

Aircraft at Roosevelt Field military base in 1942. 

Trainees at Roosevelt Field march to witness aviation
Photo Credit: Newsday/William Johnke

Trainees at Roosevelt Field march to witness aviation demonstration by World War l pilot Maj. Al Williams on Aug. 18, 1943. The men were said to be singing songs such as "She's a grand old flag," while marching. 

World War l aviator Maj. Al Williams gets
Photo Credit: Newsday/William Johnke

Air Force mechanic trainees give Major Al Williams rousing applause after his remarks.

Air Force mechanic trainees stationed at Roosevelt Field
Photo Credit: Newsday/William Johnke

The trainees march back to their classes after the Roosevelt Field flying demonstration by Major Al Williams.

Mitchel Field in Uniondale

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visits the Mitchel Field
Photo Credit: Newsday/Newsday

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the debarkation hospital at Mitchel Field in Uniondale on Oct. 3, 1944. "No one can go to Mitchel Field and not come away with a deep sense of pride in the men themselves, and also of gratitude to the doctors and nurses who do such a magnificent job," she wrote a day later in her account, "My Day."

Soldiers training near Roosevelt Field. (July 1942) Newsday
Photo Credit: Newsday

Soldiers train near Mitchel Air Force Base, which was an integral part of mainland defense in 1940 and during World War II.

Civilians do their part

10/8/44 courtesy of Northrop Grumman F-6 Hellcats on
Photo Credit: Newsday

Grumman's Bethpage plant turn out F-6 Hellcat fighters on Oct. 8, 1944. By war's end Grumman would produce 12,270 of what was considered the best Navy fighter plane in the war. 

June, 1944. Newsday photo by Martenhoff Nassau's reaction
Photo Credit: Newsday / James E. Martenhoff

Employees of Aerial Products in Merrick observe a moment of prayer, led by their president, Martin Dwyer, on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Ocean Beach ferry at the dock at Maple
Photo Credit: Newsday

The Ocean Beach ferry docks on July 14, 1944,  at Maple Avenue in Bay Shore.

D-Day at the Hempstead USO

June, 1944. Newsday photo by Martenhoff Pvt. Howard
Photo Credit: Newsday / James E. Martenhoff

At the Hempstead USO in June 1944, Pvt. Howard Stelzer of Bradley Field, Connecticut, reacts upon hearing the news of the D-Day invasion.

The war in Europe ends

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced the cessation
Photo Credit: Newsday

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced the cessation of hostilities during a radio address that riveted a war-weary world. "The German war is therefore at an end," Churchill said. "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing. Today is Victory in Europe Day." As word spread to the United States, hundreds of thousands of reverlers, including Long Islanders in Nassau, were among those celebrating on May 8, 1945.

Photo on V.E. Day, May 8, 1945, in
Photo Credit: Newsday

Long Islanders here celebrate as the nation got its first taste of victory on May 8, 1945, when President Harry Truman proclaimed V-E Day.

Photo on V.E. Day, May 8, 1945, in
Photo Credit: Newsday

Celebrations break out in Nassau on May 8, 1945, after  both Britain and the United States celebrate victory in Europe.

Photo on V.E. Day, May 8, 1945, in
Photo Credit: Newsday

Joy filled Nassau streets after victory in Europe was declared.

Photo on V.E. Day, May 8, 1945, in
Photo Credit: Newsday

For many Long Islanders, reaction to the end of fighting in Europe was more muted as fighting continued in the Pacific war against Japan.

Photo on V.E. Day, May 8, 1945, in
Photo Credit: Newsday

For some Long Islanders, home from the battle, V-E Day marked the beginning of the struggle to return to the lives they left behind.

LI celebrates as WWII ends

1945 VJ DAY in HEMPSTEAD Art for Newsday
Photo Credit: Newsday

Long Islanders fill the streets of Hempstead to celebrate V-J Day in August 1945 when Americans could finally celebrate the end of World War II. All across Long Island, the celebrations began on Aug. 14, 1945, although Japan's formal surrender did not occur until Sept. 2.

 

AUGUST 1945 -- VJ DAY -- Newsday File
Photo Credit: L.I. News Daily

For Long Island children growing up in a world at war, V-J Day would bring joy and a new beginning.

AUGUST 1945 -- VJ DAY -- Newsday File
Photo Credit: L.I. News Daily

War-weary Long Islanders prepare for life after V-J Day.

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