Over the past two decades we’ve watched a changing of the guard. For forty years, our government was run by people who lived through and fought in World War 2. They could point to their service and say, “This is what I gave up for my country.” It’s a bit sad to see that changing now, and one way to make sure we don’t lose that history and why these events were important is to visit World War 2 locations. Down in Galveston, they’ve got a World War 2 sub on display, and it’s a fun history lesson, and fun Texas field trip.
(there’s a good chance I threw an affiliate link or two in here)
How subs were used in World War 2
For a fun bit of history, the very first attempt at a submarine was used in the American Revolution. It wasn’t particularly successful, but it existed. Then in the Civil War, the HL Hunley famously set out and was lost at sea, until they found it and brought it up from the sea floor (try to bring up your own Hunley).
Exploring a World War 2 Destroyer
First we explored a World War 2 Destroyer, one of two still in existence. For the most part it’s not that intriguing except the galley, can you imagine cooking for 220 people in here? I bet they were always cooking. Nonstop. And imagine the dishes…..
The other intriguing thing was the bathrooms, and the sign about the bathrooms. The kids were rather intrigued by the complete lack of privacy. We pointed it out to the boys and then had to very quickly backpedal because Batman joked about going potty there…….
But, the submarine was the fascinating part. Because space is such a premium almost every space doubled as something else. So, 10 people slept in the same room as the torpedo room. I kept trying to figure out how you slept with all of the excitement going on. They also frequently “hot bunked,” which meant when you were on duty someone else was sleeping in your bunk.
And here again is the galley. I was just intrigued by the places they had to cook in. Probably because I spend so much time cooking. There were two different cooks, a day shift and a night shift. The night shift was responsible for baking all of the bread, deserts, a midnight snack, and an early breakfast.
And after all of that hard work of walking around seeing these old ships. Actually, I found out the destroyer was a ship, and the sub is a boat. I don’t really understand the difference. But, you need to go to sleep with your brand new “Explorer pack” knife firmly clutched in your hands to keep your brother and sister safe from any danger they might encounter…….
Future Ticia with more tips for this World War 2 field trip
Texas has a couple of different World War 2 ships you can explore. First is the Destroyer and Submarine at Seawolf Park in Galveston (side point, if you’re claustrophobic like I am to a limited extent, this is mostly doable, but there were a few parts I felt nervous in). Next is the USS Texas over by San Jacinto (we visited there while also visiting the San Jacinto monument), it’s special because it fought in both World War 1 and World War 2 and is the oldest surviving US naval warship. Next is the USS Lexington over in Corpus Christi. Finally is the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredricksburg with a couple of ships inside the museum (that museum is HUGE, it truly takes two days to go through). If you have a week to dedicate to these field trips you could have an amazing time.
While you walk through these ships, talk about what it would be like. Often they will have recordings of the actual sailors and their memories. Take the time to listen to the recordings. Ask, think, what would it be like to sleep in the same bed as someone else. Or what it would be like to be the chef on the ship. If you have friends in the military talk to them about it. We have a friend who was a navy medic and had very firm opinions on the busyness of being on a ship nonstop and the constant injuries he dealt with. He said being stationed in the Middle East was easier by comparison. Think about that for a moment.
Follow it up with a discussion of the Island Hopping strategy of the Pacific Theater in World War 2. Look at more information from the National Museum of the Pacific to see how that worked.
More World War 2 ideas
- World War 2 rations lunch
- World War 2 bombing run lesson
- World War 2 movies to watch
- Victory in Europe map lesson
- Japanese Internment booklist
Originally published May 11, 2011