Coastal Plains

The impact of World War II throughout Georgia’s coastal plains is best examined through the major cities of the region. Many leaders lobbied for military bases positioning close to these cities. These cities experienced an immediate change that sent a ripple effect throughout the region.

This bar graph shows the increase in population throughout the major cities located in the Coastal Plains between 1940 and 1950. Today, major military bases that were established before and during World War II are still operational.  Columbus experienced the largest percentage change in growth during this decade.

Muscogee County| Bibb County| Richmond County| Dougherty County| Lowndes County

Valdosta is located in South Georgia close to the Georgia Florida border. Ten miles northeast of Valdosta, Moody Air Force Base is the home of the 23rd Wing, which provides worldwide close air support, force protection, and combat search-and-rescue operations in support of U.S. national security as well as humanitarian interests. In late 1940 Emory Bass, a prominent Valdosta citizen, sent letters to Georgia senators Walter F. George and Richard B. Russell Jr. requesting their assistance in obtaining a defense project on the 9,300-acre Lakeland Flatwoods Project near Valdosta.[1]

World War II tremendously impacted Albany, located in the southwestern region of Georgia, two airfields were established to train British and American pilots. Many servicemen assigned to Turner Field decided to stay or return to Albany after the war. The large influx of whites into Albany after 1940 altered the city’s population so significantly that for the first time since the 1870s, blacks were a minority. Albany experienced its greatest population growth in the 1940s and 1950s, when its total population almost tripled, to 55,890 in 1960. Following World War II, several major national firms, including Merck, Firestone, Procter & Gamble, M & M Mars, and Miller Brewing, established manufacturing plants.[2]

To check out an article about an Albany World War II veteran recalling a bomb raid click here.

Columbus located Midwest Georgia along the fall line and the Chattahoochee River. Columbus experienced a lot of change like other major cities in the coastal plains region of Georgia.  In September 1918 the U.S. War Department created Camp Benning, located on Macon Road near what is now the public library. Extensive lobbying efforts resulted in a permanent camp, Fort Benning, in 1922. For almost twenty years it functioned primarily as a training center for infantry officers. The influx of those officers made Columbus, or at least it’s middle class, more worldly. During World War II (1941-45) the post assumed a more expanded mission. [3]

The National Infantry Museum,located in Columbus, Georgia, highlights the evolution of U.S. infantry. The museum offers a exclusive exhibit highlighting the infantry of WWII.

Macon is centrally located along the fall line between the Georgia’s Piedmont and Upper Coastal Plains. World War II brought additional installations: a naval ordnance plant, a training center for British Royal Air Force pilots at Cochran Field, and most important, with the help of Congressman Carl Vinson, the enormous Robins Air Force Base for which Maconites purchased 3,108 acres in adjacent Houston County to give to the U.S. Department of Defense. The long-term impact of these facilities, especially Robins, cannot be overestimated. They led to industrial and demographic changes that, in conjunction with social and technological changes, altered local culture in ways that continue to reverberate. [4]

Robert Scott, from Macon, Georgia, was one of the most prominent World War II heroes, as well as a best-selling author. A fighter pilot in World War II (1941-45) until 1943, Scott returned to Georgia to become an integral part of the state’s war effort, and he was later instrumental in the founding of the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force. [5]

The film “God is My Co-Pilot,” is based on the published accounts of Scott from WWII.

World War II (1941-45) changed Augusta. Camp Gordon became the peacetime Fort Gordon, home of the Signal Corps. The Veterans Hospital expanded. An Army Air Forces training field became Bush Field, the regional airport. The Clarks Hill Dam, authorized in 1944, provided cheap electricity for postwar industry. In mid-1940, with the threat of war looming, army officials began looking for sites that would be suitable for a division training area. By May 1941 an area in Richmond County had been selected for one of these new training areas. In July the U.S. War Department approved a contract to construct facilities on the new installation; the cost was estimated to be $24 million. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, brought the United States into World War II (1941-45) and forced the army to open Camp Gordon earlier than expected. The 56,000-acre training site was home to three divisions during the war: the 4th Infantry, the 26th Infantry, and the 10th Armored. After undergoing training at Camp Gordon, these units were shipped to the European theater of operations, where they each served with distinction. From October 1943 to January 1945 Camp Gordon served as an internment camp for foreign prisoners of war. From May 1945 until April 1946 the U.S. Army Personnel and Separation Center processed nearly 86,000 personnel for discharge from the army. Nowadays, U.S. Army Signal Center at Fort Gordon is the largest communications training center in the world. [6]

Helen Feleki Bolen of North Augusta was instrumental as WWII codebreaker. To read full article click here.

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[1] “Valdosta.”  The New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1325&hl=y (Accessed March 24, 2011).

[2] “Albany.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2209&hl=y (Accessed March 24, 2011).

[3] “Columbus.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2208&hl=y (Accessed April 26, 2011). 

[4] “Macon.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-782&hl=y (Accessed April 4, 2011).

[5] “Robert Scott (1908-2006).” The New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2691&hl=y (Accessed April 23, 2011).

[6]“Augusta.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-955&sug=y (Accessed April 10, 2011)