Contributions to Victory on the Home Front

North Carolinians contributed to the war effort even though they also struggled with the economic hardships during the war. Many soldiers passed through training camps in North Carolina, civilians volunteered for war work, and factories turned to war production. Shortages of labor, food, and fuel affected everyone.

North Carolina’s Council of Defense encouraged patriotism. It also stimulated food production and conservation, kept a register of vacant rooms for soldiers and war plant workers, and provided legal aid for soldiers. The council was funded by donations from wealthy North Carolinians.

The American Red Cross in North Carolina ran canteens at railroad stations to feed traveling soldiers, aided needy families of soldiers, and donated clothing and other items for military hospitals and war refugees. The War Camp Community Service organized entertainment and relaxation opportunities for soldiers.

North Carolina schoolchildren collected scrap metal, planted gardens, bought war savings stamps, and gathered walnut shells to be used in filters for gas masks.

Governor Thomas Walter Bickett promoted a “Feed Yourself” campaign to reduce the threat of food shortages. More than 56,000 new gardens were planted in North Carolina. "Meatless" and "wheatless" days were observed to conserve food. Sugar was the only officially rationed food item.

There were shortages of other items like shoes, gasoline, and coal. To conserve coal for railroad use, citizens cut their own firewood. Electric signs could only be lit a few hours each evening, and never on Thursday and Sunday nights.

War industries brought jobs, but they also led to overcrowding in some cities. Shipyards built ships in Wilmington, Morehead City, and Elizabeth City; artillery shells were manufactured at the Raleigh Iron Works; a plant in Sanford produced munitions; and a plant in High Point made airplane propellers.

North Carolina housed a significant number of German prisoners of war (POWs) at an internment camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The POWs constructed barracks and mess halls surrounded by barbed wire on the lawn of the Mountain Park Hotel.

Source: Contributions to Victory on the Home Front
By R. Jackson Marshall III, 2006, David A. Norris and Rodney J. Steward. Encyclopedia of North Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, via NCpedia.org

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