United States Boy Scout Activities: World War II Scrap Drives

Scout scrap drives World War II
Figure 1.--We are noit sure what the Scouts here are collecting somewhere in the South. It looks like metal items. Not sure what would be in the basket. Using the horse-drawn ice cart saved on both rubber and gasoline.

The Federal Government soon after the Japanese at Pearl Harbor brought America into World War II began calling upon Americans to salvage a variety of raw materials for the war effort. There were several of these drives. Often they were brief, highly publicized "drives." Quite a few different matrials were targeted. The most important was rubber because the Japanese seizure of Malaya and the Dutch East Indies cut off the great bulk of the world's supply of natural rubber to the Allies. And there were olsd tires all over the country thast could be recycled to prodiuce tires abd other rubber products. There was also a trenendous need for aluminum as America rapidly expanded aitcraft contruction. There were other scrap drives, including newspaper and fat that the Scouts also participated with. Newspaper dreives in particular necesitated a lot of willing hands which the Scouts could provide. These drives of course were not only counducted by the Scouts, but the Scouts were an important part of the overall effort.

Paper

The most important drives ocurred early in the War. The rubber drive was particularly important. There were many other drives , including paper drives. The Federal Goernment estimated early in the War that 20 million tons of paper would be needed fo the War. They thought that 7 million ttons could come from salvage drives. The paper collected at first hadnít actually been needed. And quantities had been collected far exceeding what was needed. This began to change by 1943 when planners forcast increased needs in 1944. . yet been needed and couldnít be used in the quantities collected. This varied regionally depending on the needs of local factories. Two factors affected the requirements for paper. The production of virgin pulpwood was declining, in large part because of labor shortages. In addition, military requirements were escalatng. Paper is not an item strongly associated with the military, but in fact the military used prodigeous quantities of papaper and papr products like cardboard boxes. The Federal War Production Board (WPB) estimated that 30,000 tons of paperboard were needed monthly just to pack artllery shells. Carons were needed for K-ration cartons, canned food, and a myriad list of other items. Special containers were made for items like blood plasma. A carload of blue print paper was needed to draw the plans for capital ships like battleships and carries. The army reported that more than 1 million paper milk cartons were used daily in its camps. The biggest problem in collecting newspapers was that the Government was attempting to reduce gasoline consumption through rationing. Thus collecting newspapers could increase consumption of a much more vital resource--petroleum. And becuse of the quanities involved, an emormous collecton effort was needed. Here schools, the Boy Scouts, and other groyps played major roles.

Scrap Metal

Scouts sponsored a variety of scrap metal drives including tin cans beginning in 1942. One of the mkost important was aluminum needed for byulding air planes.

Rubber

Until World War II rubber for tires and other products came from natural sources, primarily Malaya and nearby locations in Southeast Asia. This was still the case when the Japanese attacked Pear Harbor (December 1941), brining America into the War. Within a few months, the Japanese over ran Malaya, Indonesia, Burma, and the Philippine Islands. Modern war could not be conducted without rubber. This commodity thus became the most scarce and thus critical commodity in the Allied war effort. The United States launched a major program to maximize runner production in areas still under Allied control. The United States also launched a huge industrial effort to produce synthetic rubber. As a stop-gap measure old-tire drives were launched in the United stastes. Scouts were often involved in these efforts.

Cooking Fat

There were also cooking fat collections that I believe the Scouts were involved in this effort. It was a home-based effort, housewives were encouraged to turn in theuir fat to the butcher rather than throw it out in ther garbage. At the time the suburbs were niot as developed as they are now, thus stores like the butcher shop were more likely in walking du\istance to homes. Thus taking the fat to the butcher shops was something thast the Scouts cout help with..









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Created: 10:09 PM 5/29/2011
Last updated: 10:10 PM 5/29/2011