Did you know F.D.R. was the “most civilian” of all major World War II leaders?

Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1913 (Photo: public domain)
Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1913
(Photo: public domain)
It’s no surprise that most of the belligerent nations of World War II had leaders with military experience. Hitler famously served as a dispatch runner in the German army in World War I, where he was both wounded and decorated. Mussolini served two years (1905-1906) as a light infantryman, which was a precondition to him receiving a pardon for an earlier desertion from compulsory service. He returned to service during World War I, and was discharged after a wound that put 40 metal shards in his body. Churchill served as an officer in several British colonial ventures in the 1890s; he later took a break from his political career during World War I and served on the Western Front. Stalin was drafted into the Imperial Russian Army during World War I but was found unfit due to a crippled arm. He later led troops during the Russian Civil War and was once reprimanded by Lenin for losing too many soldiers. Emperor Hirohito was commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Army as a second lieutenant, and into the Navy as an ensign – both at the age of 11. These were, naturally, symbolic postings, but then again, the practical extent of Hirohito’s power is still debated today. It’s fair to say that the Prime Ministers of Japan also wielded a great deal of influence, and all of them were high-ranking military officers during World War II.
Mussolini as a bersagliere infantryman in World War I (Photo: unknown photographer)
Mussolini as a bersagliere infantryman in World War I
(Photo: unknown photographer)
And that leaves us with President F. D. Roosevelt, the only one in the bunch who had no military service record whatsoever. He loved the Navy and did much to reform it during World War I, but his position as Assistant Secretary to the Navy was a civilian one, and President Wilson rejected his request to serve as an officer. It’s interesting that the “great arsenal of democracy” was built by the leader with the least first-hand experience in military matters.
2nd Lieutenant Winston Churchill in 1895
(Photo: Imperial War Museums)

Save up to 15% by paying in full until March 21

Rosie the Riveter National Day promotion

The famous “We Can Do It!” poster of J. Howard Miller
(Photo: NARA)

On the occasion of the upcoming Rosie the Riveter National Day on March 21 and to acknowledge the vital role played by women during the World War II and in today’s world, we are offering all our tours (excluding our four 80th anniversary D-Day tours in 2024) with a 15% discount if you book a tour with a woman in your group or if you book as a female individual and pay in full until March 21, 2023. Note that this offer applies only in case of new bookings, and it cannot be combined with other special promotions. If you have any questions related to this promotion or our tours, feel free to contact our travel consultants.

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