This list of WWII sites in Massachusetts covers the entire state—a state that knows about that fighting spirit better than any other. Massachusetts is not only the birthplace of the United States Army and the U.S. Coast Guard, but it was also an important ship-building site and coastal defense location during World War II.
Because of this incredible history, there are many WWII sites in Massachusetts you can visit today. From world class museums, meaningful memorials, and all the way to abandoned WWII forts, batteries, and other structures.
WWII sites in Massachusetts
This list of WWII sites in Massachusetts covers the whole state. From the North Shore to the South Shore, to Cape Cod and the islands, and all the way west.
WWII sites in Boston
Because Massachusetts’s capital has a good number of World War II sites all its own, I wrote a post specifically on those. For all the relevant sites located downtown, within the Boston city limits, check out this guide to Boston World War II sites.
This post will cover all the WWII sites in Massachusetts that are outside of Boston. (But I’ve still included the Boston ones on the map below.)
Click the small box for the map legend. ↓
WWII Museums in Massachusetts
These World War II museums in Massachusetts span everything from military weaponry to larger-than-life battleships and all the way from east to west.
Fort Devens Museum – Devens, MA
Fort Devens in Devens, Massachusetts, once known as “New England’s largest Army base,” was established in 1917. During World War II, Fort Devens trained:
- cooks and bakers
- troops from the 1st, 32nd, and 45th Infantry Divisions
- as well as the Fourth Women’s Army Corps
Fort Devens played major parts in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and eventually closed in 1996.
Today, this is where you’ll find the Fort Devens Museum, a non-profit organization that “collects, preserves, and shares artifacts and stories that tell the history of Camp Devens and Fort Devens from 1917 to the present.”
Their collection includes historical artifacts, documents, photographs, and more, much of that from World War II.
Springfield Armory – Springfield, MA
The Springfield Armory began under the direction of George Washington to manufacture muskets in 1794. From then until 1968 it served as the production site of military firearms used by American forces throughout every war in our country’s history. (Obviously this includes World War II.)
Today, the original building houses the largest collection of American historic military firearms in the world. It’s been designated a National Historic Site and is operated by the National Park Service.
The Springfield Armory offers self-guided tours of the grounds and the historic collection, as well as ranger-guided tours. You can:
- see tons of guns, swords, and other weapons
- check out the industrial machinery used to make them throughout the centuries
- learn a lot of WWII history through displays and an informative video
- and more
If World War II weaponry interests you, this is a must-visit on the list of WWII sites in Massachusetts.
Battleship Cove – Fall River, MA
Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts is known as “America’s Fleet Museum” and is home to five National Historic Landmarks including such World War II vessels as:
- USS Massachusetts (battleship)
- USS Lionfish (submarine)
- A Higgins boat (amphibious crafts used in the D-Day invasions)
- And many others built during WWII but not used until afterwards
The site also showcases a large maritime museum as well as a small collection of aircraft. Battleship Cove is also home to the official Massachusetts WWII memorial—on board the USS Massachusetts.
The battleship Massachusetts launched in 1941 and entered into action in November of 1942. She participated in an invasion in North Africa known as Operation Torch. There, she fired the first American 16” projectile of World War II.
A few months later the Massachusetts sailed through the Panama Canal and on to the Pacific for the remainder of her service. There, she saw action in:
- Iwo Jima and Okinawa
- the invasions of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands
- the strikes against Truk
- and a series of battles against Japanese bases in Asia and the Western Pacific.
In Japan, she fired the last 16” American projectile of the war.
After being deactivated in 1946, the USS Massachusetts was saved to be used as a memorial. She was brought back to Fall River in 1965 and opened to the public shortly afterwards. Read about all the technical aspects of the USS Massachusetts here.
The USS Lionfish had a much shorter-lived World War II career. This Balao-class submarine began her first patrol in Japanese waters in April of 1945. There, she quickly began to see action of all sorts. Read more about the USS Lionfish here.
American Heritage Museum – Hudson, MA
The American Heritage Museum in Hudson focuses on all things WWII transportation. The museum occupies 65,000 square feet of space filled with (what seems like) every kind of World War II motorized vehicle.
While there are plenty of automobiles, airplanes, boats, motorbikes, and so much more, the museum centers on its massive collection of WWII tanks.
This museum impressed me so much that I wrote an entire post on it. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my guide to visiting the American Heritage Museum here.
Cape Cod Military Museum – Bourne, MA
The Cape Cod Military Museum in Bourne, Massachusetts focuses on promoting American contributions to 20th-century wars, with an emphasis on the role of Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts.
This small museum is full of historical artifacts, photographs, and documents, and features a DUKW amphibious vehicle.
Note: The museum is currently located at 30 Keene Street in Bourne but will soon be moved to a new location. (I’ll update this post when that happens!)
Fort Taber / Fort Rodman Military Museum – New Bedford, MA
What was once called the “biggest little military museum in the country,” the Fort Taber Fort Rodman Military Museum first opened in 2004 but has since expanded in size and collection.
Forts Taber and Rodman are late-1800’s, Civil War-era forts that began service for World War II in the summer of 1940. In that time, full strength National Guard and Army Coast Artillery units contributed to Fort Rodman’s fight against German submarines in the area.
The museum aims to preserve the city of New Bedford’s contribution to World War II through historical artifacts from every major American war, biographies of local veterans, photographs, and more. You can also check out Fort Taber, many batteries, and the Clark’s Point Lighthouse.
International Museum of WWII – Natick, MA
The International Museum of WWII in Natick was the most interesting and comprehensive World War II museum I’d ever visited. It was small in size but the collection was HUGE and the incredibly rare and significant items they displayed would have blown your mind.
This museum had everything from working enigma machines to D-Day parachutes to Hitler’s mustache trimmer.
This museum, largely based on a private collection, shut down permanently in late 2019 without warning. However, I still felt like I should mention it in this post in case you were wondering about it. It was a well-known museum whose closure is not all that well known. If anything changes with this museum, I’ll update this post!
WWII memorials in Massachusetts
In addition to the Boston World War II Memorial in the Back Bay Fens and the official Massachusetts WWII Memorial on board the USS Massachusetts, there are many more scattered around the state.
WWII Veterans Memorial Trail – Mansfield, MA
During World War II, the Old Colony Railroad transported American soldiers throughout southeastern Massachusetts. Primarily, from Camp Myles Standish in Taunton into Boston where they would then set off for military service around the world.
Today, the WWII Veterans Memorial Trail is a hiking and biking (and skating) trail following the path of the railroad in this part of the state. It opened in 2004 and connects the downtown area of Mansfield to its airport.
The path is paved, flat, with most of the route running through dense tree cover. You’ll also find a large stone memorial monument dedicated to all men and women who served in WWII. Find more on the WWII Veterans Memorial trail here, including parking information and trail maps.
New England Holocaust Memorial – Boston, MA
Even though I said I wasn’t going to talk about any Boston World War II sites in this post, I’m still going to add the New England Holocaust Memorial to this list. After all, it is the state’s largest and most well-known memorial to the Holocaust.
This memorial was built in 1995 and is dedicated to the six million Jews killed in World War II. You can find it just steps off Boston’s famous Freedom Trail, its six glass towers rising 54 feet into the air.
For more on all the details and symbolism of this memorial, check out my post on Boston WWII memorials.
Massachusetts individual town WWII memorials
Many towns in Massachusetts have smaller memorials and monuments dedicated to their own residents who served in World War II. Check out this ever-growing (not all inclusive) list: (All of these can be found on the map at the top of the page.)
Amherst: WWI and WWII memorial plaza, Amherst College
Bellingham: WWII War Memorial and honor roll, Bellingham Town Common
Burlington: WWII memorial and honor roll, Burlington Town Common
Charlemont: War memorial, outside the Town Hall
Chicopee: World War II Monument, northeast corner of Memorial Green at Front St. and Bonneville Ave.
Clinton: WWII Veterans Memorial, next to the Town Hall on Church Street
Egremont: Egremont Citizens Memorial, at the junction of Main Street and Sheffield Road
Framingham: WWII Peace Memorial, next to federal courthouse on Concord St., between Guadalcanal and Oran Rds.
Franklin: Veterans Memorial, Franklin Town Common
Gloucester: Gloucester WWII Veterans Memorial, Kent Circle
Kingston: Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial, 16 Green Street
Marlborough: monument to World War II, Marlborough City Hall, Main Street
Medway: Matondi Square WWII memorial, at the junction of Village and Holliston Streets (named for Col. Michael Matondi, a WWII veteran)
Nantucket: Nantucket War Memorial, outside the Town & County Building on Federal Street
Natick: Morse Institute Library Roll of Honor, 14 E. Central Street
North Adams: North Adams Veterans Memorial, Veterans Memorial Park, Center Street
Stockbridge: Veterans War Memorial, Main St., outside the Stockbridge Golf Club
Sturbridge: World War II Honor Roll, intersection of Main and Haynes Streets
West Springfield: Veterans Memorial, Main St. between Park St. and Park Ave.
Williamstown: Veterans Memorial, Field Park
Worcester: Newton Square Memorial, Newton Square between Highland St. and Coolidge Rd.
Wrentham: World War II Veterans Monument, Wrentham Common, across from 12 South Street.
Miscellaneous WWII sites in Massachusetts
Besides museums and memorials, there are a few more WWII sites in Massachusetts that don’t fit into either category.
East Point Military Reservation – Nahant, MA
The East Point Military Reservation in Nahant, Massachusetts was a coastal defense site during World Wars I and II. It was then known as the East Point Batteries and was part of the Harbor Defenses of Boston. (Some of which were described in my post on Boston WWII sites.)
Today, it’s part of the Marine Science Center for Northeastern University. Though privately owned, you can still visit freely as the area offers walking and biking trails, a pleasant little park, and the chance to see some cool abandoned WWII structures.
On this eastern part of Nahant you can see old bunkers and batteries and a few well-preserved fire control towers. Some are quite obvious, while others may require a little bit of very careful maneuvering on the cliff rocks. (Look, the signs warn you of the dangers and to explore at your own risk, so I’m going to do the same. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
To see the cliffside structures, head to the far side of Lodge park and look down. You’ll see a few scattered all around the perimeter.
General Patton Park – Hamilton, MA
Before World War II, General George S. Patton lived with his wife in the town of Hamilton, Massachusetts. Today, the town is home to a recreational park named after him. In Patton Park you’ll find an M4 Sherman tank used in Patton’s Third Army and brought back to the U.S. in 1950. Just right there in the center of the park, next to the playground.
Thanks for reading! Have fun checking out these WWII site in Massachusetts.
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