Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: ‘Liberty Ships’ played pivotal role in winning WWII

After reading the narration of the journey of the Liberty Ship SS Nathanael Greene I was inspired to add some facts about Liberty Ships and the vital role they played toward the victory of World War II. I referred to a book I have, authored by Jean-Pieree Benamou, who is a renowned expert on the history of WWII. He was a tour guide when we (my two daughters and I) visited Normandy recently. The title of the book is “10 Million Tons for Victory.”
Great Britain was the “arsenal of democracy,” as they housed 10 million tons of equipment of all descriptions manufactured in the United Kingdom, the U.S.A. and Canada necessary for the war effort. The British Isles were so full of material and equipment that ‘it was said to be the effect of the anti-aircraft captive balloons, floating in the air, which prevented the isles from sinking.’” Besides the equipment there were 3 million soldiers in training centers, which were constantly strengthened by continuous arrivals of GIs.
The Liberty Ships were responsible for the transport of supplies from various embarkation ports, which were manned by teams to regulate the flow of supplies and manage countless transatlantic convoys. The frequency of supplies from the U.S.A. alone reached 2 million tons a month. The British government pursued its help to Soviet Russia on the base of 10,000 tons a month.
To transport the colossal mass of troops, supplies and heavy equipment an equally colossal fleet of merchant ships was needed. The United States launched a vast program to construct 2,000 Liberty Ships at the Kaiser Construction Yards in Richmond, Calif. The production lines brought the initial time required to produce a Liberty Ship from 355 days to just 48. The Kaiser shipyards alone produced some 821 Liberty Ships, each weighing in at 10,000 tons, in less than four years.
Before Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the United Sates provided Allied forces fighting against the tyranny of the Third Reich (Germany), under the auspices of the Lend-Lease Program, material to support the fight against dictatorship in Europe. As such, “Young America set to work to forge the tools of victory and provide the means via Liberty Ships for their transport across the globe.”
If all this is not a reason to fly Old Glory gladly in honor of the American lives lost, the cost of freedom, I can’t imagine why not. Freedom is never free, but it’s better than the alternative.
Jean Panicucci
Middlebury

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