Five Rhode Islanders pen R.I. WWII history

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By DON FOWLER

Did you know that there was a U.S. Air Force base located in Warwick during World War II?

And that the Cranston Arms Corporation manufactured Johnson semiautomatic rifles and machine guns for the Marine Corps and the Dutch Army?

These are two of many ways that our small state participated in the war effort, told in a fascinating book written by five Rhode Island historians, telling of Rhode Island’s important contributions to World War II.

Chapters are written by Christian McBurney, publisher of the “Online Review of R.I. History”; Brian L. Wallin, trustee of the Varnum Amory Museum; Patrick T. Conley, president of the R.I. Heritage Hall of Fame; John W. Kennedy, who served as Director of Education and Outreach at the Naval War College Museum at Newport; and Maureen A. Taylor, author of 16 books, including R.I. History.

The paperback book contains many old photos of the war effort in Rhode Island, including the Newport Naval Torpedo Station, the PT Boat training center and the famous Quonset Huts developed at Quonset Point. Quonset Point, the largest naval air station in the Northeast, played a major role in the war, while nearby Davisville was the home of the Seabees. Jamestown and Narragansett (now the site of the URI bay campus) were homes to top-secret POW camps.

Thousands of workers in Rhode Island were a part of the war effort, a disproportionate number when compared to other states. Many of the women of Rhode Island served as nurses and workers in manufacturing plants.

The comprehensive book is filled with information about the effect that the Pearl Harbor attack had on Rhode Islanders, the growth of naval activity and its effect on Aquidneck Island and the Battle of Point Judith.

The book provides a number of facts about World War II and its impact on our state, while also showing the great impact that Rhode Islanders had on the war.

“World War II Rhode Island” was released for publication on May 22 by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press.

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