But underlying all…is the realization that the primary instrument of warfare is the fighting man. All of the weapons with which we arm him are merely tools to enable him to carry out his mission.
So we progress from the machine to the man…
It is true that the war is fought with physical weapons of flame and steel but it is not the mere possession of these weapons, or the use of them, that wins the struggle. They are indispensable but in the final analysis it is the human spirit that achieves the ultimate decision.
George C. Marshall’s Address at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, June 15, 1941
The newest museum exhibit From Machine to Man explores technological advances in vehicles and other equipment produced during World War II that substantially increased the speed of warfare. Airplanes and tanks were used in WWI, but their effectiveness and their role in military operations were greatly expanded in World War II.
Chief of Staff George C. Marshall embraced the Army Air Corps and made it an important component of the U.S. Army. New developments in communications including walkie-talkies vastly increased the speed with which information could be transmitted and how orders would be communicated. The advances in equipment and technology available to the Army influenced strategy and tactics.
The war was also responsible for the development of the Jeep, a vehicle that Marshall helped bring from obscurity to one most effective and iconic vehicles of the war. He conceived of the tank destroyer to stop the superior German tank corps and supported the antitank bazooka for infantrymen to carry. He foresaw a second world war that required much faster prosecution than the first and prepared the Army accordingly.
Marshall realized that war could not be won only by “scientific developments and clever gadgets.” He believed a “successful war…eventually rests with the infantry soldier.” The perfect storm of technology, air and ground support, and infantry training would win the war. Marshall also cared deeply for his soldiers, and the Marshall Foundation’s Library and Archives holds the personal collections of several World War II veterans who knew or admired Marshall. Their stories, artifacts, and photographs are included in From Machine to Man.
Highlights of the exhibit are Howard Hammersley’s collection of aerial combat photography. The viewer will see images of how the Army Air Force used air power throughout World War II.
The collection of XX (20th) Corps Commander Walton Harris Walker (“Patton’s Bulldog”) includes flags, photographs and memorabilia from the liberation of Metz, on display for the first time.
A bazooka has been loaned by the National D-Day Memorial as have various tank models from the VMI Museum.
Visitors will learn about technological innovations of WWII, shown through the collections of the men who served. Marshall is omnipresent because of his involvement in the creation of these machines of Speed and Fury but also because of the respect he held for men such as those featured in this exhibit.
A preview of this exhibit will be available on May 12, 2016 before the presentation “Marshall, Arnold and the Creation of American Airpower” by Dr. Dik Daso.