A Sentimental Journey: Memoirs of a Wartime Boomtown

Wilbur D. Jones Jr.

  • A Sentimental Journey: Memoirs of a Wartime Boomtown

A Sentimental Journey is a social history of the life and culture of the World War II home front in Wilmington and Southeastern North Carolina. “The Defense Capital of the State,” it became a mighty contributor to the war effort and the country’s unique wartime boomtown, earning it the right to be proclaimed as “America’s World War II City.”

The area had all the armed forces stationed in large numbers, a shipyard producing 243 cargo vessels, the vital state port, industries at capacity, and German prisoner of war camps. Thousands left to fight; 191 New Hanover County boys died. Two high school graduates received the Medal of Honor. Strategically located, it endured constant civilian defense drills and restrictions, U-boats sinking ships offshore (one fired on a defense plant), and until 1944, the threat of attack.

The population nearly tripled. Demands for goods and services including housing, schools, food, and recreation overwhelmed. How officials managed the social, civic, jurisdictional, racial, and governmental complexities during the city’s economic heyday—while handling huge construction projects, war workers, citizen stresses, black markets, crime wave, equal justice, and weekend hordes of soldiers—is portrayed through firsthand accounts and the daily newspapers. The author’s vivid boyhood remembrances weave through and interpret the story.

A Sentimental Journey is the first book on the home front to cover the war’s impact on a specific geographic area to this extent.

“Wilbur Jones, one of our finer military authors, has portrayed the enormous contribution of one small city and its sacrifice in human treasure, interwoven with a nostalgic look at boyhood...a real trip down Memory Lane.”

Leon Uris, author of Battle Cry, Exodus, Trinity, et al.; and WWII Marineth

“A vivid recreation of the social life of North Carolina’s port city....Fast-paced, personal, and lively, the book shows how WWII transformed [this] southern city into a dynamic center of industrial and military activity.”

Jeffrey J. Crow, Deputy Secretary, Office of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

“Jones has left no stone unturned in writing this provocative and heartwarming account of how my sleepy hometown became an important contributor....I am happy he included my small role, and those of people I knew.“

Percy Heath, jazz musician; WWII Tuskegee Airman

“It’s a massive story...a surprisingly comprehensive account of a momentous era.”

Ben Steelman, Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News

“Jones gives us an interesting view into history and an opportunity to see the triumphs and challenges for a hometown during time of war.”

Seapower Magazine, Navy League of the United States

Author Wilbur D. Jones Jr.
Pages 348
Images 80
Maps 1
Bibliography Yes
Index Yes
  • $24.95

Tags: 9781572493186, Wilbur D. Jones Jr.