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California State Military Museum, Sacramento - Visited 12-27-12

Photos taken by staff of WW2HQ.

We visited the he California State Military Museum in December of 2012, and although not a large museum, it does have some unique exhibits and photos related to World War II and also houses a research library.

On the first floor, exhibits include a variety of items including uniforms and weapons. The weapon displays include rifles, handguns, bayonets, and swords, which are mainly American, with a few Japanese items included. One display includes a pair of Japanese Jikatabi (Tabi) split toe shoes, a combat phone, and a Nambu pistol. Also of note is a U.S. Army field range. These units would have been transported by truck and set up in tents to prepare meals for the troops in the field.

A painting of the battleship USS California hangs over the stairs and can be seen when you descend to the lower floor. The timeframe of this painting is prior December 7, 1941. The ship's two distinctive wire-cage masts are present in the painting, which were removed when the battleship underwent major reconstruction after being sunk at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.

Wire-cage masts were designed to withstand a direct hit by an enemy shell without collapsing the entire mast. When the battleship was rebuilt, the masts were removed as obsolete, because sighting and ranging of the main guns (main purpose of the masts) was now accomplished with radar, as opposed to a look-out at the top of the mast.

Downstairs exhibits include a Saluting Howitzer, (modified American M1A1/M116 Pack Howitzer), a Japanese type 97 81mm mortar, and a Russian M1910 7.62mm machine gun captured in Korea by the 14th Infantry Division. Also on display is a WWII American M1917A1 .30 caliber machine gun, made by Remington Arms.

A small kiosk downstairs contains information about the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) and the mascot on their patch, which was a feisty female cartoon character named Fifinsella. The WASPS logged sixty million miles, testing and ferrying aircraft, and towing targets. According to the museum sign, "though thirty-eight WASPS died as a result of their service, they did not win veteran status until 1977".

Also on the lower floor is an interesting exhibit about American war dogs and includes the following artifacts from World War II:
• A Quartermaster Corps issued leather dog leash and collar
• A Quartermaster Corps issued 22-inch choke collar with "U.S. WAR DOG" tag.
• A Quartermaster Corps issued dog blanket, circa 1943
• An M 1904 horse brush issued to dog handlers in World War II

Other war dog displays include information about specific dogs, including: Lt. General George S. Patton's Bull Terrier, Willie; Chips, one of the dogs who gained fame in World War II; and war dog Pal. Interesting facts include: Willie was named for William the Conqueror; Chips was the most decorated war dog of WWII and was assigned to the 3rd Military Police Platoon, 3rd Infantry Division, serving in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany; and war dog Pal served served in the China, Burma, India Theater of Operations from January 11, 1945, to February 2, 1946. Pal's Honorable Discharge paper is on display.


Fifteen U.S. War Dog platoons served overseas in World War II. Seven saw service in Europe and eight in the Pacific. The seven Dog Platoons trained at Camp Lejuene, NC. were Dobermans, used primarily for detection of enemy troops. Dogs were used at Bougainville, Morotai, Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

The 1st Marine Dog Platoon with twenty-four Dobermans and German Shepherds landed on Bougainville November 1, 1943. Six dogs were recognized for heroism on Bougainville, with the 2nd and 3rd Marine Raider Battalions.

Also of note in the war dog display, are photos of rare WWII Dog Gas Masks: US Army E12R8 dog gas mask, and US Army M6-12-8 dog gas mask.