In 1917 one of the lesser-known units of the US Army was formed. Earning the nickname ‘The Spruce Division’ it undertook a vital task on which victory depended
The Sitka spruce is a mighty tree. They can grow up to 100m tall and often have a trunk diameter which exceeds 5m. What makes their wood special is that it is tough, light, not at all brittle, straight-grained and if hit by a bullet does not splinter. It is, in fact, the absolute perfect wood for the construction of military aeroplanes.
Thriving in damp climates the trees could be found on an approximately 50-mile-wide strip of land running up the West coast of America from California through to Alaska. From 1914 the most accessible spruce forests were being torn down and the cut lumber being sent overseas to assist the aeroplane construction programme of Britain, France and Italy.