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Saturday, July 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The war at home: How Spokane’s newspapers covered the Allied invasion of France

June 6, 1944 edition of The Spokesman-Review (SR)
June 6, 1944 edition of The Spokesman-Review (SR)

By the spring of 1944, the people of Spokane had grown accustomed to wartime news.

Every day, the headlines screamed from the pages of The Spokesman-Review and the Spokane Daily Chronicle, and they were bellowed by newsboys at the corner of Riverside and Post.

Everything changed on the morning of June 6. It was a day of confirmation: We were winning.

When the people of Spokane woke up that morning, they were greeted with a giant headline from The Spokesman-Review: “Invasion of France begun by Allied troops; parachutists first – naval, air forces aid.”

During WWII, Farragut sailors row across Lake Pend Oreille.  The naval training station that sat on the end of the giant lake during the war graduated almost 300,000 sailors between 1942 and 1946. The area is now a state park.    Photo courtesy of the Museum of North Idaho (Museum Idaho / The Spokesman Review)
During WWII, Farragut sailors row across Lake Pend Oreille. The naval training station that sat on the end of the giant lake during the war graduated almost 300,000 sailors between 1942 and 1946. The area is now a state park. Photo courtesy of the Museum of North Idaho (Museum Idaho / The Spokesman Review)

The next day brought more good news: “Invasion Forces fight way into France on 100-mile front; Nazis caught by surprise.”

That wasn’t entirely true; thousands of Americans died to win the beachheads at Omaha and Utah. But they didn’t die in vain.

By the time of the D-Day landings, the Inland Northwest had been at war for more than 2 1/2 years. Thousands of young men from around the country trained at Fort Wright, Felts Field, the Geiger Army Air Corps and the Farragut Naval Station at Lake Pend Oreille.

1942 - The United States naval supply depot, recently activated as a shipping point, direct to Pacific naval bases, is as busy as any seaport naval supply installation and makes Spokane a front-line supply base. The scene above shows one of the depot's busy streets, where navy goods are received, warehoused and shipped to fighting fronts. Today, the facility is Spokane Industrial Park.  (Cowles Publishing)
1942 - The United States naval supply depot, recently activated as a shipping point, direct to Pacific naval bases, is as busy as any seaport naval supply installation and makes Spokane a front-line supply base. The scene above shows one of the depot's busy streets, where navy goods are received, warehoused and shipped to fighting fronts. Today, the facility is Spokane Industrial Park. (Cowles Publishing)

Women worked at the giant Velox Naval Supply Depot in Spokane Valley. Citizens scrimped to ration supplies needed by the troops.

At the same time, Spokane had sent 15,000 of its own to faraway battlefields. Everyone sought the latest tidbits – in print, on the radio or by word of mouth.

On June 17, more good news arrived: The Marines had landed in Saipan. Soon, the Japanese homeland would be within range of the new B-29 bombers.

But not all the news was good. “Bizarre robots attack England,” a Spokesman-Review headline announced in a reference to the V-1 flying bombs that Hitler was launching from bases in France.

Closer to home, Spokane citizens were chided for a lackluster effort in buying War Bonds. Inside the S-R, small headlines told of young men dying in faraway fields and seas.

More would perish in the months ahead – in France and Germany and on the islands of the Pacific. But if Spokane needed confirmation, it came on June 6, 1944.

We were winning.

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