Medicine Doesn’t Discriminate: How Medical Supplies Helped Save Lives During World War II

A pack of German bandages that was carried by a German soldier on D-Day and later recovered by Allied soldiers.

Authored by William Braxton Hicks

World War II was the most destructive conflict in human history. Millions of people lost their lives fighting for or defending against tyranny, some for the right reasons, and others for the wrong ones (Hastings 2012). The bandages in the above photo were made by a German company called Hartmann Group. They were just one of the many companies from all around the world that were required by their government to begin producing materials for war in both the 1910s and the 1930-40s. In short, there were no facets of ordinary life, nor anyone in the world who was not affected in some way by the greatest military conflict of all-time.

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Ike and Butch: A Cartoonist Preserves Memories

Authored by Catherine Torres

“The 847th had a reputation as a very musical unit, producing male-voice choirs and jazz bands. The famous newspaper cartoonist Giles often jammed with men from the Debach-based unit in local pubs. These are his drawings of two of the men who became his friends: Ike (the double bass player) and Butch. Their full names are not known.” Photo courtesy of Emily Charles, Curator of the American Air Museum in the Imperial War Museum, Cambridgeshire, England.

During World War II, US and British bombers participating in the Allied Aerial campaign operated out of airfields in Southeast England. Building the airfields was difficult; there were long hours and equipment shortages (Hartzer 2013). Like many servicemen and women, aviation engineers, those who built the airfields, did their part for the war effort, but unlike their peers, aviation engineers are not often memorialized. The reason? At the time, of the 157 American aviation engineer units, 48 of them were designated as “colored” (Hartzer 2013). 

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Remembering a World War II Veteran Through His Work

Authored by Emily Leo

A watercolor painting depicting a scene from life in Franklin Square during the 20th Century. A temporary carnival held in or near Franklin Square in the early 1950s. Indiviglia, Salvatore J. 1952. Carnival. Watercolor on paper. Franklin Square Public Library, New York. (The Franklin Square Historical Society owns the copyright to this painting and has loaned it to the Franklin Square Public Library to display. Photo taken with permission from the Franklin Square Public Library by Emily Leo on September 15th, 2020).

World War II veterans are an ever-shrinking population. While most living veterans are well into their 90s, many of their stories have not been told. Salvatore J. Indiviglia was 99 when he passed on May 28, 2018. According to an article from the Pew Research Center, “The [Department of Veteran’s Affairs] projections show that between Sept. 30, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020, 245 WWII veterans are expected to be lost each day” (Schaeffer 2020). Thus, it is more crucial than ever to record as many of their stories and experiences as possible before they are lost for good. However, sometimes their stories live on through the work they have done throughout their lives. I was able to find his story through the paintings he has left behind and the organizations he was a part of. Salvatore J. Indiviglia was a resident of Franklin Square, New York for 68 years, a veteran of World War II, and a prolific artist whose work is displayed in numerous places, most notably, in the Franklin Square Public Library (Newsday 2018).

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The Captain’s Log: A Firsthand Account of the Honolulu Fire Department’s Response on December 7, 1941

Authored by Cuyler K. Otsuka

An excerpt of page 95 of the captain’s log of the Honolulu Fire Department, from December of 1941, showing the captain’s handwritten notes from December 6 and December 7, 1941.

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, shortly before 8:00 a.m., Imperial Japanese airplanes approached the island of Oʻahu and began their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field, two United States military installations on the island. The alarm sounded at 8:05 a.m., and Engines 4 and 6 were promptly dispatched to Hickam Field to respond to the blazes and medical emergencies caused by gunfire and bombs (Bowen 1979, 126). As part of a “mutual aid pact,” the Honolulu Fire Department, a civilian fire department, assisted the United States military, and vice versa (Bowen 1979, 127).

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Back on Their Feet: The Italian Welfare League and the Ragazzi

Authored by Kyle Randall

A boy with worn features and wrinkles under his eyes that do not belong on a teenager is posed smoking before the photographer.
A young Ragazzi smoking to try to curb his hunger in the aftermath of World War II


            Like most of the world, Italy suffered greatly in the first half of the 20th century, as a result of the two World Wars and the Great Depression devastating most developed nations. World War I caused distrust amongst many first world nations, and brought about a massive decrease in trade across the globe. “These policies took several forms such as import tariffs, currency control and quota restrictions” (Perri and Quadrini 2000, 4). The collapse of the economy and subsequent worldwide political strife made way for conflicts that would spark the second World War, sowing even greater turmoil and tragedy into an already struggling nation. After World War II came to a close, Italy’s infrastructure suffered massive damage, and its economy was in shambles.  Thousands of children were left homeless and orphaned.  While Italy would eventually recover, the initial years were difficult. “In the aftermath of World War II, Italy and France like the other European belligerents experienced persistent, rapid, disruptive inflation” (Casella and Eichengreen 1991, 1). With the country as unstable as it was, it was no wonder why the nation had to turn to outside help to care for their orphans. 

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Recognizing Staten Island’s World War II Efforts

Authored by Erin Ajello

A watermarked photograph of blueprints.

This photograph shows Robert Feist’s blueprints of a German rocket from the S. S. White factory on Staten Island. Feist created them as part of a national U. S. Government project.

            As Staten Island is often referred to as the forgotten borough, it unsurprising that it is a place with a rich, forgotten history. The above artifact, a page of missile blueprints from the S. S. White factory on Staten Island, shows a unique part of Staten Island’s war efforts during World War II.     

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The Many Faces of RMS Queen Mary and the Melting Pot of New York Harbor

Authored by Kyle Brinster

The British ocean liner RMS Queen Mary entering New York Harbor in June 1936.

Ocean liners like the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Queen Mary have a long history and deep connection with New York City. Beginning with the British government’s grant to Samuel Cunard “for the carriage of mail by steamship across the North Atlantic in 1838” (Pike 2018, 59), both passengers and merchants moving cargo used the ships scheduled arrival and departure times to reliably navigate across the world’s oceans. Continue reading

The NCWC’s Fight for Just Migration in WWII

Authored by Maeve Dwyer

National Catholic Welfare Conference Bureau of Immigration Annual Report (1940-1941), from the Center for Migration Studies National Catholic Welfare Conference Collection

In 1920 the National Catholic Welfare Conference, previously the National Catholic Welfare Council, created a Bureau of Immigration to aid immigrants entering the United States. [1] The NCWC Annual Report (July 1, 1940- June 30, 1941) describes the efforts of the NCWC in assisting migrants who sought refuge in the United States during a time of increasing turbulence and uncertainty. Specifically, within the context of this annual report, the violence of World War II[2] was spreading throughout Europe. The NCWC took great pains to relieve the displaced, and those fleeing Nazi holdings or Axis power territories.

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