June 6 was the 66th anniversary of the invasion of Europe in World War II, and it passed with it being hardly noticed.
Those of us who experienced World War II haven't forgotten it and the reason for it. We are told that the veterans of that conflict are passing at the rate of more than 1,500 per day.
It will soon be just another of those dates in history unless we remember how much it cost and the reason for it.
Of course, we had already been at war with Japan from Dec. 7, 1941 so the demands upon our entire population were great to support the two wars.
Everyone had to support these wars in many ways, affecting our daily lives.
Many of our daily needs had to be adjusted in such things as gasoline for our cars, sugar for our tables, electricity for our lights, etc. And we had great cooperation when many women took over men's jobs. Do you remember the popular song of that time titled "Rosie the Riveter"? Women flew war planes to the conflict areas. Victory gardens were another part of life. The list goes on and on. War bonds were popular to support the military.
From data prepared and published by the U.S. Department of Defense, I am sharing figures that I hope you will consider. An overall profile of the U.S. Servicemen between 1941 and 1945 shows 38.8 percent or 6.3 million men and women were volunteers; 61.2 percent or 11.5 million were draftees; of the nearly 18 million men examined for induction, 35.8 percent (6.4 million) were rejected as physically or mentally unfit. The average duration of service was 33 months; 73 percent served overseas, with an average of 16.2 months abroad.
Of 1,000 service people, 8.6 were killed in action, three died from other causes and nearly 18 received nonmortal combat wounds; 38.8 percent of enlisted personnel had rear echelon assignments such as administrative, technical, support or manual labor; average base pay for enlisted personnel was $71.33 per month and for officers, $203.50 per month.
What was the peak strength of armed forces during World War II? For the United States, it was 12.4 million; for the USSR, it was 12.5 million; for Germany it was 10 million; for Japan it was 6.1 million; France was 5 million; Britain had 4.7 million; Italy had 4.5 million; India had 2.2 million; Poland had 1 million, and down through 24 more countries to the smallest, which was Argentina with 100,000.
What was the toll of the war for our armed forces? The Army and Army Air Force had 234,874 killed and 565,861 wounded; The Navy lost 36,950 with 37,778 wounded; the Marines lost 19,733 with 67,207 wounded; the Coast Guard lost 574 with 432 wounded for a total of 292,131 military killed and 671,278 wounded. The Merchant Marines lost 37 as POWs, 5,662 dead, 4,780 missing and presumed dead, and 845 killed at sea.
The estimated international costs of World War II were: battle deaths, 14.9 milion; battle wounded, 25.2 million; civilian deaths, 38.6 million, and the direct economic costs amounted to $l.6 trillion.
What did it cost the U.S. for directly related uses for the war? It amounted to $238 billion. It cost Germany $212 billion, France $111 billion; USSR $93 billion; Britain, $57 billion; Japan, $41 billion; Italy, $21 billion; Canada, $20 billion, and nine more countries with figures in the billions.
It is difficult to realize how many airplanes were produced between 1939 and 1945. These figures include all types (i.e., fighters, transports, gliders, etc.). The U.S. produced 303,713 planes; Britain produced 131,549 planes; the Soviet Union produced 158,220; Germany produced 119,871; and Japan produced 76,320.
So, how many military aircraft were lost in the years of 1939 through 1945? The U.S. lost 59,296; Germany lost 95,000; Britain lost 49,485; Australia lost 7,160; Italy lost 4,000; France lost 2,100; Canada lost 2,389. The U.S. Department of Defense made this additional comment: "USSR losses were extremely high, but they were undisclosed by the Soviet government."
Tank production reveals some staggering figures also. The U.S. produced a total of 60,973 tanks of all types; Britain produced 23,202; Germany produced 19,926; Italy produced 4,600; Japan produced 2,464 and the USSR produced 54,500.
The number of prisoners held by the Allies (excluding Russia) were astouding. There were 630,000 German prisoners, 430,000 Italian prisoners and 11,600 Japaness prisoners.
I realize there are a lot of figures included above that you might or might not be interested in. They do show what a tremendous effort was put into World War II aid it really was a World War including many countries.
The history books of today talk very little about World War II. I hope this article might refresh your memories.
Arris Johnson, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.