19 July 1941

19 July 1941

19 July 1941




Admiral Darlan resigns as head of the Government

The Negro Struggle

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 29, 19 July 1941, p.م.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Courier and the Negro March

Without any question the biggest news of the first week of the month, so far as the struggle for Negro rights is concerned, was the bureaucratic cancellation of the March on Washington at the time that the eyes and hopes of all advanced Negro workers were turned in the direction of the scheduled March.

And still the Pittsburgh Courier found room on its front page for only a couple of inches of reading matter on the March. And its lead – and it really splashed and splurged on it – was a long denunciation of Walter White and the N.A.A.C.P. for being responsible for the postponement of a hearing to be held by a Senate Committee on discrimination against Negroes in the war industries.

The Courier’s handling of these questions was neither accidental nor the result of slovenly journalism. Rather, it was a brazen attempt on the part of the editors to cover up the shabby role they had played against the March. By attracting attention to a secondary matter of extremely little importance, they hoped we’d forget how they behaved about the March. It was an attempt by a paper with a “militant” reputation to hide its own bankruptcy. Negroes must understand this if they are to avoid mistakes in the future. They must understand not only Randolph’s treachery in calling off the March, but also the treachery of the only paper which had dared to oppose the March.

The reason that the Courier did not attack Randolph was that in calling off the March Randolph had only done what the Courier had urged and advised from the beginning. The Courier therefore could not expose Randolph’s miserable policies without at the same time exposing its own.

The Courier’s Substitute for the March

The Courier had opposed “the crack-pot proposal,” as it called the March, because “Led by the Pittsburgh Courier . colored people have so flooded their Congressmen, Senators and the President with protests that not a single official in Washington is unaware of the evil. Can a parade tell them anything they do not already know?” It had its own methods for defeating Jim Crowism, claimed the Courier. “The most effective way of influencing Congress and the Administration is by personal letters and telegrams from individuals, societies, church congregations, clubs and fraternities by memorials and resolutions sent to both Houses, and by intelligent personal representations.”

The few weeks before the scheduled date of the March blew all this sky high.

The mere threat of a March did more than the thousands of telegrams, letters, postcards, memorials, resolutions, phone-calls, intelligent personal representations, wishful thinking, prayer and even the “political pressure” on Roosevelt practiced last year when the Courier supported Willkie.

For the first time Roosevelt began to show some interest in the question. Of course that interest was not based on a desire to do anything concrete and fundamental about Jim Crowism. It took the threat of the March to get him to admit that there was a problem. He did not do more than pay lip-service to it, and he was helped in getting away with this by the willingness of the leaders of the March to avoid him any embarrassment. Even so, still far more was accomplished by the March threat than by the Courier’s “most effective way.”

Now let us consider the subterfuge resorted to by the Courier to cover up its tracks.

The NAACP, the Courier, and many other Negro groups have for some time been demanding a Congressional investigation of discrimination. Congress avoided adoption of Resolution 75 setting up a special committee for the purpose and instead turned the matter over to the Truman Committee, which was busy investigating other matters and which would have little time for study of Negro discrimination. Truman announced that it would be a long time before his committee would even get around to the matter.

But suddenly, as part of Roosevelt’s moves to call off the March, the Truman Committee announced that it would open a three-day session on the matter on June 30, the day before the March was to take place. The purpose for this hurried move was undoubtedly correctly explained by the NAACP, namely, so that when the March took place, it could be said, “What are you Negroes kicking about? We are holding hearings right now!”

The NAACP then asked for a postponement of 30 days, citing many reasons, some correct, some very weak. Immediately a number of other big shot Negroes, like the publicity-loving demagogue Edgar Brown, who were very eager to get their names in the paper, by one way or another, got very excited at this “betrayal.”

The Courier felt that it had an issue and it blew the balloon as big as it could. Let us show how easy it is to prick it.

Let us remind the Courier:

“Led by The Pittsburgh Courier . colored people have so flooded their Congressmen, Senators and the President with protests that not a single official in Washington is unaware of the evil. Can a parade tell them anything they do not already know?”

If a parade cannot tell them anything they do not already know, what can another futile, three day Senate committee gab fest tell them? No, the Courier cannot escape the consequences of its vacillating policies. It cannot conceal the fact that for its own selfish, craven reasons it gave aid and comfort to Jim Crow at a time that the Negro masses were preparing to strike it a powerful blow.

Where We Stand

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 29, 19 July 1941, p.ن.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On the “Character” of the War

The character of the war has changed. So says the Communist Party.

The character of the war has not changed. So claims the Workers Party (Abern-Shachtman).

Diametrically opposite conclusions but both are wrong because both are the result of purely idealistic reasoning. Having left the ground of Marxist materialism, neither the Communist Party nor the Workers Party is capable of arriving at a correct analysis and adopting correct political conclusions.

To believe the Stalinist leaders, the first shot fired into Soviet territory, at the command of Hitler, had the miraculous effect of bringing about a change in the character of the war. From a war between rival imperialisms it was transformed, as far as England and the United States are concerned, into a different kind of war.

The Stalinists have not as yet described the exact character of the war but they have said enough to conclude that the war, on the part not only of the Soviet Union, but also of Great Britain and the United States is now one for democracy against fascism, for the right of nations to determine their own destiny and for the right of peoples to lead a happy and contented life. And this change occurred by virtue of the fact that the Soviet Union is now participating in the conflict.

It is not to be expected that the Stalinist leaders will furnish cogent arguments for their present contention. They simply make that assertion and expect everyone to accept it without argument. How and why did the character of the war change? Their answer is: by the entry of the Soviet Union. That of course is not an argument, for we are still left in the dark as to how the entry of the Soviet Union into the war created a change in its character.

The argument implicit in the Stalinist contention is that before the attack on the Soviet Union the war was imperialist in character because the governments conducting the war were interested in acquiring or defending colonies, markets and spheres of influence. Churchill and Roosevelt were conducting a war for imperialist purposes.

As soon as the Soviet Union was attacked Churchill and Roosevelt dropped their imperialist aims and began to struggle for democracy and the sacred rights of the peoples. What caused them to change? That is immaterial. It may be that the beloved and great Stalin used his powers to make them change. But whatever the reason was, Churchill and Roosevelt got religion, repented, became good Christians and stopped fighting an imperialist war.

From their sudden change, whatever the reason may be, it necessarily follows that imperialism is not, as Lenin taught, a stage of capitalism, but a policy of a government. Obviously, if it is a policy it call be changed over-night, if necessary. According to this Stalinist conception the character of the war is completely divorced from the character of the economy of the country waging the war. It depends upon the character and motives of the people at the head of the government.

Shachtman’s Method Is Like the Stalinists

Now let us examine the contention of Shachtman and his Workers Party to the effect that the character of the war has not changed. By that the Workers Party means that the Soviet Union was waging an imperialist war when it was allied with Germany and it is now waging an imperialist war as an ally of the capitalist democracies.

In this column last week I showed that, basing oneself on the theory that Hitler and Stalin were partners for the purpose of conquering and dividing the world, it becomes impossible to explain the sudden decision of Hitler to attack his partner-in-crime. Be that as it may, Hitler’s decision was made and Stalin, according to Shachtman, is now waging an imperialist war not to divide booty with Hitler but to guard his ill-gotten gains from his erstwhile ally.

Why is the Soviet Union waging an imperialist war now? The Workers Party answers: Because the Stalinist bureaucracy is playing a reactionary role. It wants to subjugate the working class of the world to the war machines of the imperialist democracies it is fighting to retain control over territories it has seized and also “over the internal colonies of the Kremlin overlord” it is fighting for its aristocratic privileges. The Workers Party utilizes the same method of idealistic reasoning that the Communist Party uses.

Both the Communist Party and Shachtman conceive of the character of a war as something independent of the nature of the economy of a country waging the war.

As against this idealistic method of reasoning, our party bases itself on Marxist materialism. The character of the war is determined by the nature of the economy of the countries participating in the war. Germany, Great Britain, the United States are imperialist countries, that is, their capitalist economy has reached an imperialist stage. They are therefore waging an imperialist war regardless of whether tho bad Hitler or the good Roosevelt is at the head of the government. The character of the war, as far as these countries are concerned, has not changed by the attack of Hitler on the Soviet Union. They are still imperialist countries. It is therefore impermissible for a Marxist party to support their war.

Since private property in the means of production has been destroyed in the Soviet Union and has not been reintroduced, there can be no such thing as Soviet imperialism, in the Marxist sense of the term. The Soviet Union therefore cannot be and is not waging an imperialist war even though the Stalinist bureaucracy is interested in safeguarding its own power, prestige and influence. The Soviet Union, even under Stalin, is waging a war to defend nationalized property against German imperialism. It is therefore mandatory on every class-conscious worker to defend the Soviet Union.

A deep gulf separates the reasoning of the Communist and Workers Party on the one hand and the Socialist Workers Party on the other. It is the difference between middle-class idealism and revolutionary Marxist materialism.

News 8 WTNH reported on the Black & Latino Studies Curriculum on February 25, 2021. Visit the original posting on wtnh.com.

Promoted by members of the state legislature’s Black and Hispanic Caucus- Public Act 1912 was signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont last year. It comes at a time when racial tensions and calls for social justice are running high.

The coursework will go way beyond what’s been traditionally taught out of textbooks across the nation and focus on the great accomplishments made by people, and how that has shaped American history.

“Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2019) (a) For the school year commencing July 1, 2021, and each school year thereafter, each local and regional board of education shall include African-American and black studies and Puerto Rican and Latino studies as part of the curriculum for the school district, pursuant to section 10-16b of the general statutes, as amended by this act.”

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Positive test results for COVID-19 are reported to the health department in a variety of ways for investigation and follow-up. Cases of COVID-19 are recorded as a case in the county where they permanently reside. Cases recorded here are Larimer County residents only. As we work through investigating cases originally assigned to and reported by Larimer County, they may be assigned to another county if we determine their permanent address is outside of the county.

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    What four coronaviruses from history can tell us about covid-19

    IN 1889, a disease outbreak in central Asia went global, igniting a pandemic that burned into the following year. It caused fever and fatigue, and killed an estimated 1 million people. The disease is generally blamed on influenza, and was dubbed “Russian flu“. But with no tissue samples to check for the flu virus, there is no conclusive proof.

    Another possibility is that this “flu” was actually a coronavirus pandemic. The finger has been pointed at a virus first isolated in the 1960s, though today it causes nothing more serious than a common cold. In fact, there are four coronaviruses responsible for an estimated 20 to 30 per cent of colds. Only recently have virologists begun to dig into these seemingly humdrum pathogens and what they have found suggests the viruses have a far more deadly past. Researchers now believe that all four of these viruses began to infect humans in the past few centuries and, when they did, they probably sparked pandemics.

    The parallels with our current crisis are obvious. And it turns out that our growing knowledge about these other coronaviruses could be vital in meeting the challenge of covid-19. Insights into the origins, trajectories and features of common cold coronaviruses can provide crucial clues about what to expect in the coming months and years. Understanding these relatively benign viruses may also help us avoid another pandemic.

    Coronaviruses are a big family of viruses that are mainly known for causing diseases in livestock. Until recently, few virologists paid them much attention. “Human coronaviruses were recognised in the 1960s,” says Frank Esper at the Cleveland Clinic in &hellip

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    19 July 1941 - History

    The Hampton Bomber Crash in July 1941:

    A Tribute to Miss Edith Catherine Fowle

    From the Garton Archive: Item of Interest No 19

    The Garton Archive contains hundreds of books and booklets from Professor Charles Garton&rsquos ex-libris collection. One of these is a signed copy of the booklet, &lsquoLincoln during the War&rsquo, by Fred Hurt, who reminded us that Lincoln was a vulnerable city during the Second World War. Later in the war the Cathedral was a target in so-called &lsquorevenge&rsquo raids, code named &lsquoBaedecker&rsquo, although fortunately three separate attempts on Lincoln Cathedral failed for different reasons. Lincoln&rsquos position as a major rail and industrial centre, and flanked by nearby aerodromes, also made it a prime target for the Luftwaffe. Several crashes were recorded in the chapter &lsquoPlane Crashes in Lincoln&rsquo, many of which were caused not by enemy fire, but by pilot error, untried aircraft designs, inadequate training and even &lsquosheer carelessness&rsquo. One of the worst occurred when a Lancaster bomber took off from RAF Skellingthorpe on a training flight in June 1943 shortly plunging into houses on Highfield Avenue off Skellingthorpe Road, killing four civilians and six aircrew.

    The chapter also contains a vivid description of a crash which occurred on Greestone Stairs between the Christ&rsquos Hospital Girls&rsquo High School (LHS) and the staff boarding house. Hurt wrote that, in the early hours of Thursday 22 nd July 1941, Hampden bomber AD 983 flew low over St Hugh&rsquos Church and the Sessions House and crashed into a building half way up Greestone Stairs, off Lindum Hill. For those interested in the detail it was from the No 44 Squadron based at RAF Waddington, and was returning from laying mines off the Friesian Islands in north-western Europe. Immediately Auxiliary Fire Service members Fred Hughes and Charles Brader arrived on the scene and found the plane&rsquos tail lying crossways on Greestone Stairs and burning fiercely.

    The High School gates were locked so the men had to find another way round the accident. As the fire brigade arrived on the scene the plane&rsquos fuel tanks exploded. However, Hughes and Brader managed to get into the building and searched the first two floors, but flames on the staircase prevented them from reaching the third floor. Later the body of senior French mistress Miss Edith Catherine Fowle was carried out. She had been found trapped in the window frame, suffocated by the billowing smoke. The four airmen in the plane, Donald Bruce, William Robert Bain Relyea (Royal Canadian Air Force), James Aloysious Connoly, and Peter Joseph Lynch also lost their lives in the accident. A plaque at Lincoln Christ&rsquos Hospital School (LCHS) commemorates the event and includes the following Prayer for All Souls:

    Let Light Perpetual Shine Upon Them

    Fred Hurt informed us that the firemen had to face the additional hazard of exploding bullets, one of which flew over two hundred yards and landed in a bedroom in a house on Monks Road. Apparently the occupant, Mr BM Clarke, picked it up and burnt his fingers. As the original boarding house building and its temporary replacement were both demolished, there is no remaining evidence of that dramatic wartime incident on Greestone Stairs.

    One of the first to enter the building was duty firewatcher Raymond Percival Pickering whose grandson, Steve Thompson, is the Facilities Booking Manager and Groundsman at LCHS. Steve has told me the poignant story of how his grandfather found the bomber embedded in the staff boarding house, and then discovered Miss Fowle kneeling in front of the fireplace with her hands held together as if in prayer. She was apparently grey from head to foot, which suggested that she might have died of shock.

    Miss Edith Catherine Fowle was born on 12 th August 1892, and was appointed to the staff of LHS in January 1920. She was educated at the Milton Mount College in Gravesend, taking the Cambridge Higher Local Certificate in 1911, and then spending a year at the Gravesend School of Art. She taught, presumably as an unqualified teacher, at La Bergeronnette School in Lausanne from 1912 to 1916, and then at Lynton House School from 1916-18. There followed a year of study at the Cambridge Training College, where she was awarded a Teachers&rsquo Diploma in December 1919. She was appointed to LHS as a Lower Third Form mistress to teach French with some English. Her annual salary of £165 was increased to £200 in September 1920 (Current value approximately £7,500 pa).

    Many teachers are given nicknames, some of which are less complimentary than others, but those who have names that are obviously open to ridicule must surely develop a hard skin and a sense of humour. Clearly Miss Fowle did, as Helen Stiles (Hindley) recalled, when she was in the Lower 3 rd Form

    &lsquo&hellipdear Miss Fowle wrote her name on the blackboard and told us to have a good laugh once and for all&rsquo! (A Book of memories: Lincoln Christ&rsquos Hospital Girls&rsquo High School 1893-1974)

    It is perhaps unsurprising that Miss Fowle was known by her colleagues as &lsquoChick&rsquo or &lsquoChickie&rsquo, and to the pupils as &lsquoChuckie&rsquo!

    Miss Fowle&rsquos love of France, and the French, was recorded in the Christmas 1941 edition of the Lincoln High School (LHS) magazine, where she was also described as a French teacher of distinction, instilling the language into willing and less willing ears with a passionate energy and drive. She also believed in life-long learning, and taught herself Italian and Spanish during her career at LHS. Her French teaching was made more interesting by the use of games and pictures, and by acting out plays. She also engaged the children&rsquos interest by telling them about her visits to France and to other European countries.

    It is clear from tributes paid in the LHS booklet A Book of Memories that Miss Fowle was a very popular teacher. Enid Denman (Chambers) 1937-43 wrote that her saddest moment was when she arrived at school following the bomber crash in 1941 to find that her &lsquovery favourite teacher&rsquo had been killed.

    There were, of course, several other references to Miss Fowle in the Christmas 1941 edition of the LHS magazine. The Chairman of Governors Mr JWF Hill (later to become Sir Francis) spoke warmly during the Upper School Speech Day of her &lsquogreat service to the School, and complimented Miss Savill and the staff on their outstanding courage and endurance throughout that trying time. Miss Savill herself expressed the School&rsquos sense of loss in Miss Fowle&rsquos death, and she also spoke of the relief that one so vital and creative was not left maimed or shattered in nerve as a result of the accident. The following two photographs were published in the magazine as a tribute to her life, and service to the School:

    Further written tributes were paid to Miss Fowle in the same LHS magazine. One wrote of her quick wit, which was a never-ending source of delight. Her trenchant comments on current affairs were also a feature of her personality, whilst her courage, sympathy and unobtrusive kindness were much appreciated by her colleagues.

    In her best mood she radiated happiness, with a laugh that warmed the heart. As a teacher she was ruthless, thorough and satisfied with nothing but perfection. As a result, she won a very special place in the School during her twenty-one years of service. From several comments it is clear that she had her ups and downs and could become disillusioned. However she was at her best when she was being creative, whether she was expressing herself in embroidery or in painting.

    As a form mistress of the Lower Third, she guarded her pupils&rsquo reputation with special care, gentleness and generosity. This was also shown in her zealous work for Dr Barnardos&rsquo Homes, and a child in need invariably roused her interest and practical sympathy. A former pupil recorded that it was to their form-mistress that new girls turned for help and guidance during the time of adjustment to a new school in strange and unfamiliar surroundings. Miss Fowle&rsquos patient explanations and kindly instructions helped to make the pupils feel more at home, and in retrospect to recognise the influence that such teachers have during our formative school years. Describing Miss Fowle as a most distinguished personality, another former pupil remembered the tactful way in which she had suggested that her hair would be more satisfactory if were held back in a slide instead of being in her eyes! She was clearly quite a disciplinarian too. &lsquoWoe betide those who did not remember their verbs&rsquo, as one Old Girl who was described by Miss Fowle as a &lsquoprize slowcoach&rsquo recalled.

    During the 1930s some quite ambitious trips to France were arranged for some of the lucky pupils of LHS. Miss Fowle, along with her colleagues, was instrumental in organising the trips and accompanying their young charges to Paris, Normandy and elsewhere. In the booklet commemorating the 1931 expedition to France, Miss Fowle is recorded as having been disgusted at the cost of entering a castle at Luynes, where little appeared to have been on display. &lsquoIt&rsquos a poor two francs worth,&rsquo she apparently complained! The charming photograph below, presumably taken with a Brownie &lsquoBox&rsquo camera, shows Miss Fowle, second from the left, relaxing in Normandy with other members of staff in Easter 1934.

    It seems that for some reason Miss Fowle was unable to accompany the party on their trip to France in 1937, as the following colourful telegram suggests.

    Staff meetings were apparently never dull in Miss Fowle&rsquos presence. Critical by nature and instantly aware of the comic in any situation she could clearly try the patience of colleagues on occasions, but only because she wanted the best for the School. This ambition also extended to the School environment. A keen gardener, with a &lsquoplanting hand&rsquo, she made the Greestones garden into a thing of beauty, and many happy hours were spent working in it, or sitting with her tawny cat &lsquoGinger&rsquo.

    The final word will rest with a colleague who described her as a &lsquogrand person a loyal friend, a fellow worker loving beauty and service&rsquo. There can be no finer epitaph for a teacher.

    Two Lincoln High School girls descend a more tranquil Greestone Stairs in the 1950s

    Fred Hurt (1991) Lincoln during the War WJ Harrison, Lincoln

    A Book of memories: Lincoln Christ&rsquos Hospital Girls&rsquo High School 1893-1974

    Reading the chart of a record-speed bull market

    The market has gone up a lot, in record time. Since the low on March 23, 2020, the S&P 500 has surged more than 90% the Dow Jones Industrial Average just under 88% and the Nasdaq near 112%. That's the highest first-year bull market gains since 1945 and outpaced the average of 37.5% for all prior bull markets.

    The speed of this bull market makes sense when one looks at how quickly the bear market of 2020 occurred: 33 days from peak to trough, according to CFRA. "The fastest on record," according to Sam Stovall, CFRA's chief investment strategist. And then the market recovered everything it had lost in fewer than five months, the third-shortest period in market history to recoup such a massive level of losses. The history of the past 12 bull markets shows that those that bounced back from bear markets fastest also lasted the longest, on average. Only four of the past 12 bull markets did not make it to 1,000 days. The remaining bulls lasted from four years (October 1957) to nearly 11 years (March 2009).

    A simple explanation: bull markets that return more quickly are an indication that investors had less uncertainty and more conviction in an economic and earnings recovery.

    "The timidity with which investors are willing to get back in that implies how long the bull market can last," Stovall said. In this case, it's the lack of timidity, and what already occurred this year is emblematic of bull markets. You can call it "rolling corrections" or as Stovall does, "subsurface rotations rather than an overall retreat."

    April earnings are so far coming in strong and Wall Street is climbing the wall of worry. Stovall thinks that tailwind can still get better and provide more momentum. "Investors, in general, think current estimates understate what is likely to happen in 2021 and we should we get a second-half surge of economic growth."

    1941 Willys MA

    The 1941 Willys MA, “M” for “Military”, model “A,” were sturdy jeep prototypes built for testing prior to US participation in WWII.

    Production began on June 5th, 1941 and around 1,555 Willys MAs were built and delivered to the Army Quartermaster Corps. Out of this number, 50 were built with four-wheel steering. Few remain, as most of those produced were subsequently sent to Russia or England under the Lend-Lease program.

    On July 23rd 1941, after much controversy and behind the scenes maneuvering by the bidders, the War Department awarded the 1/4-ton truck production contract to Willys-Overland based on their Willys MA design and their low bid of $738.74.

    Out of approximately 45 known 1941 Willys MAs in the world, an estimated 27 are restored. Of the 27 restored vehicles, eight are thought to be in the U.S.

    The 1941 Willys MA seen today is the rarest of the Jeep Collection.


    • Headlights on top of fender
    • Willys embossed on top of grille
    • Windshield folds down
    • Vertical slats
    • 3 speed transmission shifter on column
    • Parking brake is in dash rather than on floor
    • Two circular instrument clusters on dashboard

    Closer Look

    The Other Model A

    Willys-Overland couldn’t claim to have “invented” the jeep, even though they did occasionally in the early days, but after 1941 they had the most influence on its evolution. Willys was the second company to become involved in the development of the 1/4-ton 4ࡪ truck we now commonly know as the jeep. In order to describe how Willys got to the MA, we need to sketch the full history a little and a talk about two of Willys’ biggest competitors in the project, Bantam and Ford.

    American Bantam Car Company, of Butler, Pennsylvania, was the first to design and build a jeep. They helped the Army turn their rough ideas for a light reconnaissance vehicle into a design concept and won the contract to build the first prototype jeeps. Willys-Overland was one of 135 other manufacturers invited to bid on that contract and the only other company to make a bid.

    It was no surprise Bantam and Willys were the only bidders. It was a tricky contract, with only 10 days to submit bids and almost impossible demands for a short delivery schedule, not to mention the contract being contingent on the first pilot model passing the basic performance tests. For the bigger companies well-equipped enough to meet that schedule easily, the first contract was chump-change and hardly worth breaking a sweat. Better to adopt a wait-and-see stance. Bantam and Willys were the two companies desperate enough to submit bids.

    It’s well known Bantam was nearly at the bottom of a steep decline in corporate fortune. Less known is that Willys was on a similar slope, just not quite so far down it. Not so many years before, Willys-Overland had been one of America’s largest auto manufacturers. By the end of the 󈧢s, the line of stylish Willys cars was off the American public’s radar and the financial outlook was grim.

    It’s clear both Bantam and Willys wanted to establish themselves as the foundation of what promised to be a large vehicle contract from the government. That first $171,000, 70 vehicle contract was a lifesaver for Bantam, whose factory was essentially mothballed. Willys was less desperate but knew it was a lead-up to something better. Other companies were waiting to jump in when, or if, things looked more lucrative. Ford Motor Company’s later involvement is evidence of that.

    So, why did Willys fail in their first attempt for a bid? Willys was many developmental steps behind Bantam. They submitted the lowest monetary bid but with the short bidding period, it was not very detailed. Plus, they couldn’t match Bantam’s short delivery schedule commitment. Bantam had been on the project for months, had a lot of the preliminary design work done and hit the ground running.

    While a vehicle like the jeep was not a particularly difficult engineering puzzle, it was certainly a new way of packaging existing technology and components. The two main challenges were the drivetrain and an almost impossibly low weight requirement. The drivetrain was ably handled by the Spicer Corporation of Toledo, who developed a compact front driving axle and transfer case from existing designs and did so in a very short period. Spicer axles and transfer cases appeared in all jeeps, no matter who built them. The weight issue was the biggest challenge, even for Bantam, who was most accustomed to “thinking light.”

    Bantam delivered their pilot model on September 23, 1940, for testing to determine whether it was generally suitable for military service. The Bantam Pilot Model passed all those tests, the contract was validated and Bantam soon completed and delivered the 70 units for testing with Army units.

    Submitting a prototype meeting a minimum suitability standard was a requirement and knowing there would be more contracts for the 1/4-ton coming up, Willys went ahead with building two pilot models to be ready for the next round. In the industry, when a manufacturer built a test prototype without a prior agreement, they were called “courtesy models.” Often, a courtesy model was a “wink-and-a-nod” type deal without paperwork but with an “understanding” that a certain level of consideration was being given. When complete on November 11, 1940, two Willys courtesy models were given to the torture experts at Camp Holabird, Maryland, the Army’s vehicle test center. Willys called them Quads.

    The Quads were tested through November and deemed generally suitable. Willys powered the Quads with its recently developed 134ci, 60 hp 441 engine, known as the Go-Devil in advertising. The more powerful engine was a big plus but there was one big problem: the Quad was way, way over the Army’s weight limit. More than 500 pounds over a recently raised limit and it nearly cost Willys a place in history. Based on the excess weight, the Quads were declared not suitable for service. Willys argued the extra power made up for the extra weight and that was true. The Quad’s power-to-weight ratio was the same as the much lighter 45 hp Bantam’s. The Army was adamant and it took some political intervention to get that ruling reversed. Willys assured all parties it could meet future weight limits.

    The Army’s weight expectations were unrealistic and controversial. They had been as low as 1,200 lbs. in the conceptual stage and had risen to a whopping 1,275 lbs. by the time the first contract was issued. Bantam was uniquely qualified in the area of building light but even with that experience, their pilot model debuted at around 1,840 lbs. dry. The first Bantam’s very successful demonstration was a graphic lesson to the Army gearheads that their weight limitations were unrealistic. As a result, the limit was largely ignored in that first case and shortly rose to around 2,050 lbs.

    It’s interesting to note that Bantam originally designated a much more powerful 133 ci Hercules Model IX four. Since it had become clear that weight was going to be an issue, even with Bantam’s extremely light boxed u-section chassis, they opted for a smaller and lighter 112 ci Y-Series Continental engine. Both Bantam and Willys knew the weight limits would eventually be raised. They had to be! After all, the beef you get out of a vehicle is directly proportional to the beef you put in, but their approaches to dealing with the Army on the issue differed. Bantam had done a better job in designing a lighter body and chassis than Willys and the Continental engine kept them well under the limit and away from much controversy.

    Willys wanted their larger engine in the lineup right from the start. That had as much to do with keeping their profit margin up by not diverting funds to an outside source than producing a better product. The Go-Devil was roughly 100 pounds heavier than the Continental and was approximately 25 percent of their overage. It was clear they needed to do a better job on lightening the rest of the jeep. They tap-danced, trying to run out the clock until the Army came to their senses and bumped the limit to one they could potentially meet. It was a gamble that paid off after it rose above 2,100 lbs. but they still had a lot of work to lighten their next prototype to meet the revised limits.

    The jeep story is fraught with back room politicking and after Bantam, Willys and Ford had all submitted pilot models, it reached a high pitch. We’re not going to talk about the sharp knives that were drawn at that point by politicians trying the “bring home the bacon” to their respective districts and high ranking staff officers with an agenda. Let’s just fast forward to that point in early 1941 when the government issued contracts to all three companies for 1,500 improved test models each, the 1941 Bantam BRC (commonly but incorrectly dubbed the BRC40), the 1941 Ford GP and the 1941 Willys MA. The MA designation was the start of the lettering tradition for Willys, the “M” indicating a military contract and “A” for the first in the series, the Model A.

    The good news around this time was that the weight limit had been raised again to 2,160 lbs and this had opened the door for Ford and Willys to stay in the game. Yes, the Ford Pygmy pilot had been over the weight limit as well. The Ford juggernaught was the first to begin fulfillment of the 1,500 unit order, with its first GPs appearing in February of 1941. The Bantams followed in March. Tic, toc, tic, toc…. where was Willys?

    The first Willys MAs didn’t appear until June of 1941. Why the delay? That is not crystal clear, though the delay was the source of irritation within the Army. Some was attributed to parts suppliers but likely, again, it was weight. Willys really had to work to make the 2,160 lbs. limit. They even experimented with installing the same Continental engine used in the Bantam. They finally achieved 2,160 lbs. with the Willys engine by using the thinnest body sheet metal possible, shortening bolts and cutting back on everything they could to the point of even weighing the amount of paint applied. The old joke was that if the MA had gotten dusty before its final weigh-in, it would have been overweight.

    Mechanically, the MA was very much like its ancestor, the Quad. Willys had benefited by seeing both the Ford and Bantam prototypes and adopting some of the features seen on them for the MA. It was a natural evolution but the end result was that Willys’ gamble on the big engine had paid off. The MA had impressive amounts of power and torque. Being of equal weight with the Ford and Bantam, but having 15 more horsepower and 20 lbs-ft more torque, put it well ahead in the performance department and that made a big impression. Some figures of the period listed the MA with a 74 mph top speed and it could reach 52 mph in 15 seconds. Nearest to that was the 45 hp Bantam, which was still very light at 2,026 lbs. It had a 64 mph top speed and took 16 seconds to make 48 mph. The 2,160 lbs., 46 hp Ford took 19 seconds to reach 48 mph and had a 59 mph top speed.

    The Willys extra power wasn’t an advantage in terms of getting the contract. Many people have the impression winning the contract was a three-way “duel to the death” testing process where the “best man” won. Because it appeared so late, the MA had very little operational testing or use with Army units. The only three-way testing of the updated prototypes occurred at Fort Benning, Georgia, starting at the end of June, 1941. This was partly to run the upgraded Ford and Willys units through the same full battery of field tests the Bantams had endured earlier and it was partly to finalize a list of desirable specifications to incorporate into a future standardized unit. While the MA won some important rounds in these tests, namely due to its spirited performance, some of its features were panned, one of them being the column shift transmission and another a notoriously uncomfortable seating position. The testing was completed in July, not all that long before Willys was actually awarded a 16,000 unit contract. Willys’ was about $40 per unit lower than Bantam and $34 lower than Ford.

    The contract for a standardized jeep was issued to Willys within a month of the MA debut and some of the last MAs were completed as the first MBs were being built. As a result, the MAs saw very little use with Army units compared to the BRC or the GP. By this time, the U.S. Government was deeply involved in the Lend-Lease Program, whereby American military equipment was loaned to friendly countries. The pre-standardized jeeps were perfect candidates for this, once their operational testing was done. Of the 1,555 Willys MAs built, most were shipped overseas under Lend-Lease. The majority of the Lend-Lease MAs went to the Soviet Union.

    Of the pre-standardized jeeps from 1941, the MA is the rarest and, by far, the most valuable. Around 30 complete, or semi-complete, MAs are known to remain, with a few more that are little more than a collection of parts. The MA is also the least well-documented of the pre-standardized jeeps. With a Ford or Bantam, there are lists by serial or U.S. registration numbers that give some hints at where and when the vehicle was used and to which service they were issued. Many of the Fords and Bantams stayed in the U.S. after they were field tested and were the first jeeps sold surplus. With the MA, few such clues have been unearthed and very few of the surviving MAs have anything close to a history of their life available. Many of the surviving MAs are in the region of Eastern Europe that was once Czechoslovakia. In an odd quirk of fate, around 60 MAs were given to a United Nations relief agency and were used mostly in Czechoslovakia. When relief work tapered off in the late 󈧬s, these MAs were sold locally.

    The military history log of the Omix-ADA MA is just about blank. We know it was delivered to the Army on July 9, 1941, only weeks before Willys was granted the standardized jeep contract. There have been undocumented, unprovable and unlikely stories told about this jeep’s past. Most likely, it never left the United States while in military service and was sold surplus out of the San Francisco Bay Area with a couple of other known survivors. While the Omix-ADA MA is currently painted Navy gray, some involved in its restoration many years ago report finding no original grey paint, indicating it was not likely in Navy livery. What little is known about the disposition of MAs by serial number seems to bear that out. We know it passed through several collectors before ending up in the hands of the late Mark Smith, of Jeepers’ Jamboree fame, who had the jeep painted rather fancifully to represent his World War II service in the USMC.

    A small number of MAs saw use by the Navy Department, though not in frontline service. One batch of 50 was taken from the Army order to go with the construction units building naval bases in Iceland, Scotland and Northern Ireland but the actual disposition of these units is not generally known. As far as can be determined today, the farthest west MAs can be documented to have gone is Hawaii. Much information remains to be discovered about the disposition of MAs in military service.

    The MA is proof that the jeep story ended as it should have. The standardized production jeep of WWII porked up to just about the same weight as the Quad and the more powerful Willys engine, a proven design that was tooled up and ready to go, gave it adequate performance at that weight. It’s almost a given that even had Willys not won the contract for the standardized jeep, whoever did get it would have had to field a larger engine of equivalent power.

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