Historic Brookley Field

From Private Field to Industrial Center

Wartime Service

Brookley Field began its wartime service still under a state of construction, with at least two months of work still expected.[1] The shift to a wartime footing naturally meant that an increase in personnel on the base could be expected. Indeed, the National Youth Association shifted its focus to only work on projects that can contribute to the war effort. This led to many of the girls in the program near Mobile being transferred to clerical positions on Brookley Field.[2] The unfinished status of Brookley Field does not appear to have hindered the Army from transferring units there when certain structures were complete and space was available. The installation saw several logistics wings transferred to the base, some before the war began.[3]

Brookley Field became an important logistics center as well as a training site for new recruits, though the latter was a necessity of a rapidly expanding military.[4] Of significant importance to the base was that while there were eight other large air depots for the Army, Brookley Field was the only one that also possessed direct access to the ocean. This access to the ocean also allowed the base to serve as a home to seaplanes that were important for monitoring the Caribbean for U-boat activity.[5] The expanding base and need for labor naturally meant that civilian employment continued to climb as more workers were necessary to free military members for other tasks. Additionally, youths that had undergone NYA training were beginning to take up positions in the workforce.[6]  As the war came to an end it also showed another part of Brookley Field and its ties to the area, with Sergeant Jasper Llewellyn,  the first soldier at the base to be discharged by the the point system, choosing to settle in Mobile.[7]

[1] “Alabama Gets Ready,” The Birmingham News, December 08,1941, Page 11

[2] “Newton NYA Project Gets More Girls For War Work Training,” Southern Star, April 23, 1942, Page 2

[3] “Mobile Gets More Troops,” The Birmingham News, September 20, 1941, Page 11

[4] “Trailer Park Asked: Decision On Instructor Residence At Brookley Field Near,” Birmingham Post-Herald, January 31, 1942, Page 12

[5] “$20,000,000 For Brookley Field,” The Montgomery Advertiser, March 23, 1941, Page 8

[6] “Thousands Pour In,” The Birmingham News, April 16, 1942, Page 1; “NYA-Trained Boys Take Places In Defense Jobs,” The Huntsville Times, April 10, 1942, Page 6

[7] Allen Cronenberg, “Mobile and World War II, 1940-1945,” in Mobile: The New History of Alabama’s First City, ed. Michael V. R. Thomason, (Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2001) P.244