As a nation headed to war: Fleet response after Pearl Harbor

Nov. 12, 2018
As Veterans Day 2018 is observed, a look back through history at the nation's and fleets' response as the United States joined World War II.

It was now nearly 77 years ago. The United States entered the fray in World War II as fires smoldered from the attack on Pearl Harbor, HI, Dec. 7, 1941. And already that next month, much of the content and ads in Fleet Owner's January 1942 edition had to do with the war effort and how life had suddenly changed.

Fleets operating smoothly with the fewest possible breakdowns was now much more than good business, it was a matter of national security. Americans and the nation's fleets were urged to get every mile they could out of their tires; the defense effort needed rubber for planes, trucks, and other uses in the machines of war.

Tractor-trailers, then still an emerging part of transportation, were also part of the war. Fleet Owner showed military trucks hauling pontoon bridges used to get soldiers and machinery across rivers and other water crossings, and an ad showed a truck pulling a Fruehauf trailer done up like a billboard calling for people to buy war certificates and stamps to help "stamp out Hitler!." The U.S. Office of Personnel Management reported that more than a million trucks were being used to haul defense goods and equipment across the country.

The U.S. War Dept. issued a national pamphlet preparing truck drivers to operate under blackout conditions if necessary, covering headlights with shields or operating with all lights shut off. If some light had to be improvised, the government suggested attaching a can below the vehicle to house a flashlight pointed forward to provide at least some illumination.

Auto and truck manufacturers were very much a part of the war effort. Fleet Owner documented how Ford Motor Co. was training U.S. Army officers on the Ford GPW "blitz buggy," the magazine called it, which was one of the vehicles that would become commonly known as a jeep.

In another example, Dodge noted it was sending more 4x4s to join the 75,000 trucks the company had already sent to the war front, and its "swift, comfortable and thoroughly dependable" ambulances were aiding medical personnel and wounded. Chevrolet had printed 170,000 special military service manuals supplied with trucks it built and sent to the army, and Plymouth sent a photo of staff cars it supplied to military officers.

And naturally, the war also affected regulation and day-to-day business. Numerous state legislatures that weren't meeting held special sessions, and the additional activity was expected to produce many additional trucking and transportation-related bills. 

Have a look through this time-capsule slideshow of some WWII highlights from Fleet Owner Vol. 28, No. 1.

Sponsored Recommendations

Heavy-Duty Maintenance Checklist

A maintenance checklist can help ensure you hit everything necessary during an inspection. Check out our free downloadable checklist to help streamline your repairs.

Five Ways a Little Data Can Save Your Company Millions

While most trucking and logistics companies rely on cellular to keep their work fleet connected, satellite has the ability to connect anywhere and through small data transmission...

Fleet Case Study: 15% YOY Growth for ITDS

Learn how this small trucking company scaled significantly and maintained outstanding customer service without adding additional people. Sylectus TMS can automate operations and...

Unlocking Fleet Safety & Efficiency: The Managed Service Advantage

Want to boost your fleet's safety and efficiency? Tune in now to discover the power of Managed Services in optimizing your safety program, streamlining operations, and making ...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!