World War II

Learn more about the Second World War with a series of films, lectures, and activities/resources below!

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Virginians at War Films
Recorded Lectures and Lessons
Resources and Activities

Virginians at War Films

The Virginia War Memorial is proud to offer a series of documentary-style films covering the Second World War. Topics include Pearl Harbor, the war in the Pacific, the war in Europe, the experiences of nurses and submariners, POWS, the intelligence community, and more. Watch them all!

Click the name of the film to view. Resource packets are being made available for each film, please check back soon if the film you are looking for does not have additional resources!

SSGT Bill Hulcher

Virginians at War: WWII – Lawrence “Bill” Hulcher features Virginian SSGT Bill Hulcher, a B-17 Waist Gunner and Togglier telling the story of his plane being shot down over Europe and his amazing struggle for survival.

SSGT Bill Hulcher Transcript
SSGT Bill Hulcher Resource Packet

Battle of Midway

 Virginians at War: The Battle of Midway explores the experience of Virginians that fought in the Battle of Midway in June of 1942. Veterans share their memories of life at sea, the battle, and the significance of damage inflicted on both US and Japanese fleets.

Battle of Midway Transcript
Battle of Midway Resource Packet

Battle of Okinawa

Virginians at War: Okinawa explores the experience of Virginians that fought during the critical Battle for Okinawa over three long months in 1945.

Battle of Okinawa Transcript
Battle of Okinawa Resource Packet

Battle of the Bulge

Virginians at War: Battle of the Bulge, covers the American experience during the critical Battle of the Bulge that spanned the winter of 1944-1945.  Virginia veterans detail their vivid memories of the bold German offensive in December of ’44 and the resulting harrowing, desperate fight during the Allied counterattack.

Battle of the Bulge Transcript
Battle of the Bulge Resource Packet

China-Burma-India

Virginians at War: China-Burma-India delves into the oft-untold conflicts that were critical to the success to the American campaign in the Pacific.

China-Burma-India Transcript
China-Burma-India Resource Packet

Home Front 

Virginians at War: WWII Home Front tells the stories of the men and women who supported the war effort from the American home front.

Home Front Transcript
Home Front Resource Packet

Intelligence

Virginians at War: Intelligence looks at the details of American codebreaking and code-developing efforts against the Japanese in World War II, beginning with the failure to collect intelligence prior to the attack at Pearl Harbor.

Intelligence Transcript
Intelligence Resource Packet

D-Day: Invasion of Normandy

Virginians at War: D-Day Normandy uses veteran interviews and a variety of primary sources to tell the story of the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. The invasion of Normandy was a defining moment in the Second World War, propelling the Allied Powers to victory over Hitler and the Nazis.

D-Day Transcript
D-Day Resource Packet

Battle of Iwo Jima

Virginians at War: WWII – Iwo Jima addresses the strategic importance of the Japanese-controlled island of Iwo Jima during World War II, and the struggle and sacrifice required to conquer it.

Iwo Jima Transcript
Iwo Jima Resource Packet

Nurses

Virginians at War: WWII – Nurses features amazing, unique stories from World War II nurses who served in both Europe and the Pacific theaters. The film spans from the nurses’ time before the war through basic training and their time in battle.

Nurses Transcript
Nurses Resource Packet

Pearl Harbor

Virginians at War: WWII – Pearl Harbor tells the stories of the Virginians who were living at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii during the Japanese sneak attack of December 7, 1941.

Pearl Harbor Transcript
Pearl Harbor Resource Packet

POW – Germany

Virginians at War: WWII – POW Germany uses firsthand accounts and video from World War II to detail the experiences of American prisoners of war in the European Theater.

POW – Germany Transcript
POW – Germany Resource Packet

POW – Japan

Virginians at War: WWII – POW Japan covers the brutal treatment of American prisoners of war in Japanese camps, which by the end of the war had up to a 35% fatality rate.

POW – Japan Transcript
POW – Japan Resource Packet

Submarines

Virginians at War: WWII – Submarines tells the unique story of Americans in submarines fighting against the Japanese in World War II.

Submarines Transcript
Submarines Resource Packet

USS Birmingham

Virginians at War: WWII – USS Birmingham features the sailors who served on the Birmingham, built in Newport News, VA. It traces the Birmingham’s movements from Virginia to Africa to the Pacific, island-hopping to Japan.

USS Birmingham Transcript
USS Birmingham Resource Packet

Recorded Lectures and Lessons

If you are interested in scheduling a future lesson with the Virginia War Memorial Education Department (in person or via distance learning/outreach), please reach out to education@vawarmemorial.org.

From the Archives

Take a closer look at some of the Virginia War Memorial’s materials and stories!

From the Archives: D-Day 

Aired June 5, 2020. Join Archivist Heidi Sheldon as she explores the Virginia War Memorial’s materials related to D-Day.

From the Archives: V-J Day

Aired August 20, 2020. Join Archivist Heidi Sheldon as she explores the Virginia War Memorial’s materials related to V-J Day.

From the Archives: Battle of the Bulge

Aired October 15, 2020. Join Archivist Heidi Sheldon as she explores the Virginia War Memorial’s materials related to the Battle of the Bulge.

From the Archives: Pearl Harbor

Aired December 7, 2020. Join Archivist Heidi Sheldon as she explores the Virginia War Memorial’s materials related to Pearl Harbor during the Commonwealth’s Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony.

From the Archives: China-Burma-India Theater 

Aired January 21, 2021. Join Archivist Heidi Sheldon as she explores the Virginia War Memorial’s materials related to the China-Burma-India Theater.


Eyewitness to history

Learn about history from those who have experienced it, and get a chance to view events through a unique lens!

Eyewitness to History: WWII Veteran Dr. Guy DeGenaro

Aired September 25, 2020. Hear firsthand accounts of World War II from Dr. Guy DeGenaro, a glider pilot who participated in Operation Market Garden in September 1944. Operation Market Garden as the plan for Allied forces to prepare for an invasion of Northern Germany by capturing a series of bridges in Holland that would eventually lead to the crossing of the Rhine River.

Eyewitness to History: WWII Veteran Fred Faulkner

Aired November 17, 2020. Hear firsthand accounts of World War II from Fred Faulkner, who served with the 3257 Signal Service Company during the Battle of the Bulge.

Eyewitness to History: WWII Veteran George Merz

Aired December 16, 2020. Hear firsthand accounts of World War II from George Merz, who landed on Utah Beach in Normandy on June 10, 1944 and received the Bronze Star during the Battle of the Bulge.

Eyewitness to History: WWII Veteran Warren Fisher

Aired January 12, 2021. Hear firsthand accounts of World War II from Warren Fisher, who served as a Combat Infantryman during the Battle of the Bulge.

Eyewitness to History: Tuskegee Airman Dr. Harry Quinton

Aired February 17, 2021. Hear firsthand accounts of World War II from original Tuskegee Airman Dr. Harry Quinton.

Eyewitness to History: WWII Veteran Irving Locker 

Aired April 26, 2021. Hear firsthand accounts of World War II from Irving Locker, who landed on Utah Beach on June 7, 1944 and played a role in liberating the Gardelegen Concentration Camp.

Eyewitness to History: WWII Veteran Hal Urban

Aired April 27, 2021. Hear firsthand accounts of World War II from Hal Urban, who served with the 11th Armored Division in the Battle of the Bulge, and took part in the liberation of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.


Lessons and Lectures (VA War Memorial Staff)

Presentations by Virginia War Memorial staff members.

Children on the Home Front (for Middle School students)

Aired April 17, 2020. Join Education Director Jim Triesler as he discusses what life was like for children on the home front during World War II in this kid-friendly program!

World War II in Film

Aired April 24, 2020. Join Education Director Jim Triesler as he describes the movie industry during World War II, using primary sources. Which films were the most popular? How were the movies advertised? What role did Hollywood play in supporting the war effort? Grab some popcorn and come learn about the movies!

“It Wasn’t a Milk Run!” – Stories from the Army Air Corps

Aired May 29, 2020. Join Education Director Jim Triesler as he explores the experiences of the Army Air Corps over Europe during World War II.

Postal Covers: Propaganda to Patriotism Part II 

Aired June 2, 2020. Join Education Director Jim Triesler in Part II of this series focused on the history and use of postal covers. View Part I (focused on the 19th century) here.  

“Cold as the Devil” – Stories from the Battle of the Bulge

Aired July 14, 2020. Join Education Director Jim Triesler as he shares stories from what Winston Churchill called “the greatest American battle of World War II,” the Battle of the Bulge.

Operation Olympic: The Battle that Never Happened

Aired August 13, 2020. Join Education Director Jim Triesler as he describes Operation Olympic, the planned first phase of invading the Japanese mainland prior to the successful test of the atomic bomb.

Letters from the Front: Voices of World War II

Aired April 20, 2021. Join Education Director Jim Triesler as he shares the words and experiences of those serving overseas during World War II.


Lessons and Lectures (Guest speakers)

Programs from authors, historians, and other special guest speakers.

On Witches’ Wings with Rusty Nix 

Aired May 8, 2020. Join guest speaker Rusty Nix as he discusses the history of the Night Witches, the brave Soviet women who flew outdated canvas biplanes against the Axis forces during World War II.

Allied Women of World War II with Mark Turner

Aired June 23, 2020. Join guest speaker Mark Turner as he highlights the many roles of women across the Allied nations during World War II.

Virtual Curation Lab: Battle of the Bulge with Dr. Bernard Means

Aired October 7, 2020. Join guest speaker Dr. Bernard Means as he takes us through the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and showcases the features of the laboratory by preserving original artifacts from the Battle of the Bulge.

Unsung Heroes of the 6888th Postal Battalion

Aired March 23, 2021. The story of the 6888th Postal Battalion is frequently the untold story of heroes “hidden in plain sight.” These soldiers were trailblazers and the Greatest Generation members, as the only all-female, all-Black battalion to serve overseas in World War II. Join our panel of Veterans and history lovers to hear some of the fantastic stories of the service and sacrifice of this historic group.

Celebrating the Service of the 6888th

Aired May 18, 2021. Join us to learn about the journey to national recognition for the 6888th Postal Battalion, including recently introduced legislation seeking to award this amazing unit the Congressional Gold Medal.

Resources and Activities

“There’s a War On!” – Rationing on the Home Front

Download PDF
In this activity, students act as the head of their household during World War II. How many groceries are they able to buy for their families? How can they supplement their rations with victory gardens, bartering, or through other means? 

Codebreaking Activities

Would you have been able to crack German and Japanese codes during World War II? Find out with the activities below!

“Pig Pen” Cipher (no hint) 
“Pig Pen” Cipher (with hint)