UW Emergency Management

June 24, 2019

From the archives: UW stadium civil defense drill during WWII

WWII drill photo at UW StadiumWhile the UW prides itself in our regular schedule of emergency and disaster trainings, drills and exercises, we also recently discovered some old news footage of a massive community-wide emergency drill conducted on June 13, 1943.   This daylong civil defense drill at University of Washington stadium (now called Husky Stadium) sets a faux village ablaze.  Attended by over 35,000 spectators and hundreds of emergency responders and medical and military personnel, the event was meant to demonstrate what could happen in the case of an attack on US soil.

World War II was well underway on June 13, 1943, and still more than two years away from its official end. About a year and a half prior, the United States entered the fray by declaring war on Japan.  Tensions were high all along the west coast.  But, were Seattleites prepared for an air raid, should one occur? That was the question the “Bombing of Seattle,” set to answer.   “This is a warning of what we may expect when we are raided by the enemy,” Seattle Mayor William Devlin told the crowd in a brief opening address. “We must prepare ourselves for any eventuality.”   Timeless advice for the ages.