Savannah's World War II History
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As one of the oldest cities in the United States, it's no surprise that Savannah is rich in 18th and 19th-century history. Many visitors are pleasantly surprised to find the city's 20th-century history is just as remarkable.
With a collection of ten sites, Georgia's World War II Heritage Trail features Savannah’s National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, which makes a great kickoff point for exploring Savannah’s World War II history and the sites along the statewide trail.
The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, located just outside of downtown Savannah in Pooler, tells the story of the men and women of the Eighth Air Force from World War II to the present day. At the museum, you’ll hear unforgettable stories of bravery, experience a bomber mission and see the ongoing restoration of a B-17 Flying Fortress. The site includes a large collection of artifacts including five aircraft, a manicured Memorial Garden with seasonal flora and a reflecting pool, a gift shop, exhibits on women, the famed Tuskeegee Airmen, prisoners of war and more.
Make sure to visit these other World War II-related Savannah sites before setting off to explore the other stops along the Georgia World War II Heritage Trail.
Located just off Columbia Square, the Webb Military Museum takes visitors through artifacts related to many periods of America’s wartime history, including World War II. The museum features items including accouterments, uniforms, paintings and photographs, newspapers and diaries, flags and other military memorabilia and in many cases, the stories behind them.
The Birthplace of the “Mighty” Eighth Air Force is located at the site of a National Guard Armory, located on Bull Street just south of Park Avenue and historic Forsyth Park. Today, a historical marker, erected in 1966, is situated at the spot. The emblem of the Eighth Air Force, a winged-eight, was designed by Savannah native Major Ed Winter of the Air Force. Approximately 350,000 officers and airmen and women served in the 8th Army Air Force during the three-year period in which Americans participated in the European Theater of Operations in World War II.
In downtown Savannah, the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum features the USS Savannah CL42 model in its collection. This ship won three battle stars in World War II. On the morning of September 11, 1943, it was struck by a German glide-bomb at the Battle of Salerno, Italy. Nearly 200 officers and sailors were killed in the bombing. The remaining crew was able to heroically save the ship. In 1945, the ship, repaired and back in service, accompanied President Franklin Roosevelt to his secret conference in Yalta.
Savannah’s World War II Memorial, a bronze and copper globe walk-through memorial titled “A World Divided” on River Street, pays tribute to those locals who served during World War II. It has four giant spherical quarters replicating the Earth and weighing three tons each. It contains the names of more than 500 men and women from Chatham County who gave their lives in the war. The location on River Street has historic association as the war’s Liberty Ships, which delivered supplies to America’s allies, were built here.
For more information on the Georgia World War II Heritage Trail, click here. A souvenir passport is available at any participating site or via download on the website.