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Jun 09

Fremont Theater opens, Cal Poly Bachelor’s degrees, World War II week by week

Can I ask a favor? If you think an article is worthwhile could you share a link on your favorite social media? When we had our technology meltdown we were offline for a number of weeks and now need to get the word out we are back.

With our blogging technical difficulties resolved it is time to get caught up on the eventful weeks of 70 years ago.

• May 4-8 Battle of Coral Sea
The first naval battle where the ships never sighted the enemy. Aircraft carriers were the source and target of attacks. Though the U.S. Navy suffered greater numerical losses, the Japanese invasion force planned to carry through to Australia via Port Moresby was cancelled. America was gearing up and the aircraft carrier Lexington would be replaced and the Yorktown would be repaired. Japan’s limited resources would make the loss of light carrier Shoho a telling blow.

• May 6 Corrigidor Surrenders
The unrealistic hope that the Philippine island fortress could hold out until reinforcements arrived was over. On the last day of fighting 350 defenders were killed. Though the horrific Battan Death March and the sacrifice of the soldiers would be remembered in America as a defeat, the battle did help the Allied cause.
The fighting tied down Japanese forces in a costly battle and diminished their ability to be used in the fighting to come.

• May 12 Mighty Eighth arrives
What would become a powerful force over the skies of Europe began to gather in England as the 8th Air Force began to arrive in strength.

• June 3-4 Dutch Harbor attacked
Headlines screamed when Alaska was attacked but fortunately American commanders were finally making good use of code breaking intelligence. They had strong reason to believe this was a diversionary attack.

• June 4-6 Midway
The carrier Yorktown joined the fleet with workmen still finishing repairs and this time Americans hadthe element of surprise. As the fleets searched, the Americans found the Japanese first and launched the attack. Japanese air craft carriers were caught with planes being refitted on deck and the destruction was magnified by the gasoline and bombs intended to destroy American ships. Ultimately four Japanese carriers would be sunk in a crippling blow. The United States would lose the Yorktown, veteran of two key battles. This would be later seen as a turning point in the Pacific Theater

In San Luis Obispo milestones were also being made.

• Cal Poly’s awarded its first four year degrees in 36 years. What began as a polytechnic high school was now a college. Half of the 52 students who graduated earned bachelor of science degrees in agriculture and engineering. There were 14 two year technical certificates awarded.

• The Fremont Theater opened for business on May 29, 1942 during a Memorial Day weekend bond drive. When the building permits were pulled in late 1941 the theater was estimated to cost $100,000. The war bond drive had an ambitious goal of $1,000,000 which was a little less than the monthly payroll at Camp San Luis Obispo at the time. Two of the biggest army bases in world were in operation here at Camp San Luis and Camp Roberts and the Fremont would play a role in entertaining those on leave as well as civilian residents.
Bus loads stars came to entertain and sell bonds including boxer Max Baer who spoke to Telegram-Tribune reporter Cecelia Jensen. Comics Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and movie stars Constance Bennett and Jackie Cooper among the others who came.
The photo on the front page shows a packed Victory Square, on the courthouse lawn across the street from the Fremont. The bond drive netted a respectable $750,000. The first movie was “This Above All” starring Tyrone Power and Joan Fontaine.

Related posts:

  1. Pearl Harbor Attack, Japan opens war on U.S. World War II week by week
  2. Bataan Tank battle, World War II week by week
  3. Battan Death March, World War II week by week
  4. Phillipine Islands in peril, World War II week by week
  5. Dairy workers in short supply, World War II week by week