World War II Army Adventure (2) – Dave Writes Home (1) – New Job – January 19, 1944

My Uncle Dave , David Peabody Guion, left high school after his 18th birthday and enlisted in the Army. This decision may have been influenced by the fact that his four older brothers were all serving Uncle Sam, in one way or another. His oldest brother Alfred, known as Lad to family and friends – and my father – was an instructor, teaching truck and Diesel engine systems and maintenance in California. His next oldest brother, Dan – Daniel Beck Guion – was a civil engineer stationed in London, with many trips to Paris, working behind the scenes preparing maps for D-Day and beyond. His next oldest brother, Ced, Cedric Duryee Guion, continued to receive exemptions for his vital work as an airplane mechanic and bush pilot at an Army Airfield in Anchorage, Alaska. Dick, Richard Peabody Guion, closest in age to Dave, was a liaison between the Army and the local peons working for the Army, stationed in Brazil. Dave’s daughter has recently  given me his extensive collection of letters written by him to family and friends as well as many letters to him from members of the family and his numerous friends. 

Each Saturday and Sunday, for the foreseeable future, will be devoted to posts featuring all these letters as well as pictures and copies of some of the letters. I will probably include letters from his Father, Alfred Duryee Guion – Grandpa to me. His letters, written every Sunday, to his sons who were away from home, from late 1938 until October, 1946, when Ced came home from Alaska, are the basis for this Blog.

Grandpa probably continued to write to Dan, who had married in France and was awaiting the day when his wife and new daughter were allowed to travel, but I do not have copies of these letters. Dan and his little family arrived in Trumbull on December 29, 1946.

 

David Peabody Guion – home for a weekend

Wed., Jan. 19, 1944.

Dear Dad,

It looks like I’ve broken the ice.  Last night a call came to my barracks (which has been changed to No. 8) that I was to report to the Orderly Room this morning in my O.D.’s.  I reported there this morning and was told to go over to Classification (where they decide where you are to go and what you are to do in the Army.)  They have put me on a semi-permanent detail where I ask the new recruits certain questions and fill out a form on the typewriter.  That’s why I’m here using a typewriter now.

It looks like I’ll be here for some time, maybe three weeks or so.  Also, my chances of getting home this weekend (and also others) are pretty good.  I’ll probably be home late Saturday night and be home till about 8 or 9 o’clock Sunday night (36 hour pass).

I know I’m going to like this work especially since it is called a detail making my chances of getting kp and other details pretty slim.

I’ve picked up a slight cold while here, but I hope it will be gone by the time I get home.

I got your card last night (mail call 6 p.m.) because I didn’t go over to mail call on Monday (shot in arm).  I also got two letters from Eleanor.  I never realized how important mail is until I left home.

Well, I’d better get ready to go to work.  I may finish this letter tonight.

Love,

Dave.

 

Dad –

Here I am again.  Before it was 1 o’clock; now it’s 3.  I spent all morning sitting here just watching; but this afternoon I started filling out the forms – I’m slow now – but it’s really a cinch.

Army life is OK if you don’t get homesick – or did I already tell you that?

How long is Ced going to be around?  I hope he will still be there when I get home.

You know, it’s a wonder to me how they get so many fellows through here in so short a time.  In a period of 3 or 4 days, the men are given their clothing, quarters, written test, oral test, classification, Army law, shot in the arm, on top of being fed – and when you consider the time that is lost while you wait for various things to happen, you realize that what is done in 4 days is spectacular.

I will post the second half of this letter explaining in detail a typical day, tomorrow. 

Next week I will be posting letters written in February and March 1944. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Fugitives (2) – Excerpt From Rusty’s Letter to Ced – December 3, 1944

 

To continue extract from Rusty’s letter to Ced: “Charles Brown had me over for dinner the day after we landed. Most interesting old timer in the whole territory. First painting will be of him and that one I will keep for myself. Then we’ll have to get down to making bread and butter money or go on Eskimo diet. Eskimos, on the way, said I was the only white man they had ever seen take to all their food and like it. Ate walrus blubber by the pound, meat dipped in seal oil, dried fish and seal oil and even soured walrus flippers. The latter dish is a rare one but was bound to try it to see if my stomach could digest it. This dainty dish is apt to knot up any white man’s stomach if not poison him. If soured by the sunshine it poisons even the Eskimos. But that did not keep me out of their gathering in a tent full of friends at Wainwright when the flippers were boiling. Sat around and ate like the rest but excuse, from now on, for not “taking it” again, will be that my false teeth cannot get through it. The stench from this boiling tough stuff and fat is the most repulsive I have ever experienced. It has not a sour smell alone for it smells of rottenness but I used imagination in “taking it” like one should use in first eating Limburger cheese. So the imagination I used was that my nose was rotting away and that I was starving for food – – that a rather spoiled pigs foot would give some strength to me. The girl cut off a big hunk of it dripping with rotten fat and handed it to me. Put it in my mouth and started the imagination and began chewing it. “That’s enough for him” said one of the Eskimos and stared at me with the rest watching for the effect. But I ate one piece after another. Did not get seasick the next day after we cast off and did not get seasick on the whole trip. Most explorers in their lectures throw out the hooey of what the Eskimos call them. McCracken’s bunk was “The Great White Provider”, though up here he is not regarded as much of an Explorer. Others have been known, according to their own accounts, as “The Peaceful One”, “The Crack Shot” and “He Who Never Tires”. The Eskimos have named to me now and by Mukluk telegraph it has gone a long way: “Artist, First White Man to Eat Flippers”. If I do it again it will be the last. Seal guts with crap in them tastes like sausage meat in comparison. One day on the trip I lived on raw caribou meat dipped in seal oil. Looks like pretty days ahead. My three months grubstake, which was all I was able to afford, is going to last me a year now. Have given up rum and all forms of liquor. Sure amazed at my willpower”.

Doesn’t that sound just like Rusty. I can see now that he was getting in training for the walrus flipper diet on that trip to Lake Winnipesaukee, the day he ate that famous sandwich which you all probably recall – – who could forget it?

From the childhood memories of Dave: “Rusty is the last one in the world to call someone else silly. I remember one time he decided to make himself a meal. So we got a piece of bread and he proceeded to put anything and everything that was edible on top of that piece of bread and ate the whole thing, stood out on the rock and belched loud enough so people on Red Hill (in New Hampshire) could hear him, I’m sure. He was a character, a funny guy.”

Just the same, there is a great truth in what he says about going through with a task by using the imagination. Purposely shutting your mind to any consideration of the unpleasant aspects of something that has to be done will enable one to do the impossible. Rusty seems to have developed this imagination faculty to a remarkable degree.

Back where reference is made to Larry being a Mason reminds me of something, Ced, which I have been going to suggest to you for some time but have never happened to think of it when writing, and that is to ask if there is a Masonic Lodge in Anchorage and do you know, fairly well, any of the members? I am sure you would enjoy masonry very much and would take a great interest in it – – more so than any of the other boys. If you ever have the chance and the slightest inclination I would suggest serious consideration of it.

No word yet from Lad but the time is drawing near when a letter from overseas is about due if he sailed when we expect he did.

Catherine (Warden, who is living in the small apartment) told me last night that as Paul (her husband)  is expected to be stationed for 18 months in Oklahoma, he has applied to Washington for permission to bring his family out there and in that case, Catherine plans to sell the car to raise car fare, which will leave the apartment minus a tenant. Of course nothing is certain yet but she should know definitely by the end of the month whether permission has been granted or not.

Well, my hearties, I cannot say that I am imbued with the Christmas spirit, but I hope that as the day draws nearer, in spite of the fact that none of you will be home for that festival for the first time in our lives, I may recapture some of the old spirit, particularly with the girls here and possibly Butch and Marty present to put more meaning into the day. Be that as it may, perhaps this letter may not reach some of you before that day, so I give you what is deep in all our hearts here – – hopes and best wishes, particularly from

DAD

I’ll finish out the week with another of Grandpa’s letters addressed to T/3, T/4, T/5, Sergeant and Chief Ski Instructor.

Judy Guion

Army Life – A Telegram and Letter From Lad and Marian – November 1, 1944

 

APG - telegram asking for $35 traveling money for Marian -Oct., 1944

A D GUION

FONE BPT4-2928 DANIELS FARM ROAD, TRUMBULL, CONN=

HOLD CHECK FOR MARIAN CAN YOU WIRE $35.00 IMMEDIATELY TO MARIAN I GUION 303 LONGINO JACKSON MISS FOR TRIP TO TRUMBULL DEPARTURE THIRD=

LAD MARIAN

 

MIG - letter to Grandpa - Thanks for the $35., Nov., 1944

Wednesday

Jackson   11/1

Dear Dad,

What a peach you are to send the $35.00 so speedily, without any question. We thought that we could wait here until our first government check arrived but Uncle Sam began rushing things too much. Today (Nov. 1st) is the dead-line as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. All the wives are supposed to have gone home, and no more private cars on the Post. But Lad took the car today, anyway. He’s going to park it outside the gate, so that I can pick it up if he gets restricted. He called me this noon to say that he thought he would be able to get out tonight.

Just to be on the safe side however, we packed the trailer last night, so that it will only take me a few minutes to put the last minute things into the car and be on my way home.

Incidentally, Dad, I’m really looking forward to living there at Trumbull. It seems to me to be the best place of all, other than actually being with Lad, and think of the extra nice company I’ll have. Your comments and P.S.’s in your recent letters have made me feel that I’m really coming home, so that this doggone separation has one bright side, anyway.

I’m leaving here tomorrow or Friday, at the very latest. When Lad comes home tonight, he’ll know a little more about their coming restriction, I think, so that he’ll have an idea whether or not he will be able to get home tomorrow night. If he can, I’ll stay until Friday, but I’m pretty certain I’ll leave then. So if everything goes according to schedule, I should be home sometime Sunday, probably late in the evening.

APG - letter to Grandpa - Nov., 1944

Dad: –

Marian has told you just about everything it is possible to tell, so far. I don’t know anything further about tomorrow night than I knew last night. It is quite disconcerting to say the least to have to make plans when everything is so unsettled, but I can’t get anything definite concerning just what we are going to do. That, I guess, will have to wait until it happens.

Marian is a wonderful girl, Dad, so please take care of her for me. My happiness, and practically my life, is wrapped up in her. I know you will, tho’, even without my asking. Incidentally, her birthday (29th) is Nov. 11.

I get up at 0400 and packing the trailer last night kept me up until almost 2300 last night, so I’m so sleepy I can hardly keep my eyes open, so I’m “gonna quit” here, and as they say in Mississippi – hurry back and see us.

Lad

From the looks of things it might be later than Sunday before I arrive. Lad wants me to stay as long as possible – and I want to, too. However, it would make it easier for him, I think, if he knew that I had arrived home safely, so I just don’t know. The best I can do, I guess, is to say, “Look for me when you see me.” It won’t be very long before I’m there – Love from Marian and Lad

Tomorrow I’ll post a letter from Lad, letting Grandpa know a little more. 

On Saturday and Sunday, more Memories of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion .

Next week, I’ll be posting letters written in 1939. Lad has been in Venezuela for over month and Dan has been there for about three months. Grandpa holds down the fort in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

 

 

Guest Post – There’ll Be A Hot Time… by GPCox

In this Final-final Guest Post, GPCox explores the world of entertainment for the troops at home and away.  

USO Dance, Washington

USO Dance, Washington

 

Entertainment for troops at home also provided sources for a social life to the civilians and gave the war drive efforts an available stage.  The USO is usually the organization that comes to mind for most of us.  They had 59 companies going abroad to entertain, but they also provided amusement for those in the U.S.  Just about every city had a USO center for dancing, conversation, food and getting the opportunity to see celebrities.  The Red Cross would usually set themselves up in these centers and supply baskets of goodies free of charge to the troops.  They strove to become a home away from home for the men.  Today, in the Midwest, a group of volunteers re-enact the USO and WW2 era in parades, ceremonies and living history displays.

Washington D.C., San Francisco and NYC had a Pepsi Cola Canteen where anyone in uniform ate for free. They had a game room and showers.  A service center in

USO Center, Miss.

USO Center, Miss.

Georgetown catered to many of the wounded men coming out of Walter Reed and Bethesda Hospitals.  The civilians in the area became very close to the veterans and many kept up their contact years after the war ended.

Being in the National Defense Strategic Railway Route, the Pennsylvania RR depot at Dennison, Ohio doubled as a canteen.  During WWII, over 3,980 volunteers served the troops while the trains were being filled with water.  The Dennison Canteen from 9 March 1942 to 8 April 1946 never closed its doors, ran out of money or food – quite an accomplishment in itself.  The building that distributed meals, treats, magazines and Christmas packages is now a National Historic Landmark.

Outside of the USO centers, I believe the most famous was the Stage Door Canteen.  This was started by the American Theatre Wing in 1942 and ended in 1946.  Situated in

Stage Door Canteen

Stage Door Canteen

the basement of the 44th Street Theater in New York City, caterers and local merchants provided food and drinks while big name performers and service staff took charge of keeping the Canteen in operation, even during black-outs and curfews, for the numerous servicemen that passed through the city.

But, it wasn’t always the women entertaining the men – here in the photo; a sailor is seen enjoying giving Conga lessons at a dance held at the Hamilton Community House in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.  The National Park Ranger Station held dances

Boston Ranger Station

Boston Ranger Station

on the second floor of their building in Boston, Mass. And the Everett Covered Bridge Dance was held each July.  Many a blossoming romance evolved from the dance halls and this was not just true in the U.S.  In Australia they opened the Trocadero, which was a popular dance venue where the American soldiers introduced the locals to the Jitterbug and Jive.  Judy informed me that her father wrote in a letter dated, 23 March 1943: “Last Saturday, the three of us – Vic, Art and Al – went to L.A. to see “The

"This Is The Army"

“This Is The Army”

Rookie.”  It is a ‘scream,’ and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole production.  It is put on by the boys from Fort MacArthur, just south of L.A. proper and they seem to enjoy doing it as well as the audience enjoys seeing it.  It has been running since the latter part of 1942 and the house is still crowded at each performance.  It really is good.”  The Greatest Generation had imagination; “if you can’t entertain us – we’ll entertain ourselves,” seemed to be their motto.

Not everyone wanted to dance or attend church functions.  Neighbors, with their men overseas, created groups to play cards, swap recipes and tell stories.  One such group called themselves the ‘Dumbos,’ in Yankton, South Dakota.  As each man came home, he was required to take the whole group out to dinner.  Thankfully, all their men came home.  They then continued to meet monthly, a tradition that would last for over 35 years.

Special dispensation was given to the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus to ride the rails during the war.  The government felt their travels to numerous cities helped to keep up the civilian morale.  The Thomas Carnival started in Lennox, South Dakota, to provide clean and safe entertainment for the people of that state and ended up providing midway fairs for 15 other states.  The rides, games and food concessions gave home front diversions from their 10-16 hour work days.

Harrisburg

Harrisburg

In Stanford, Texas they remember when the high school band played at the rodeo because the “Cowboy Band” members were mostly in the service.  Some of the women from here sang with Gene Autry when in 1941, NYC’s Madison Square Garden hosted Everett Colburn’s World Series Rodeo.  Soon afterward, Autry not only took over the NYC Garden, but the Boston Garden as well and continued the tradition for decades.

The war had put a damper on traveling, but the era was not all hardship.  Individual parties and family events went on, often as though there was no war at all.  Some were based on the war and would have a military theme whereby bringing a piece of scrap metal was the entry fee to a dance or a war bond was given as a holiday gift.  They did not have televisions, video games or cell phones.  People played games together, played instruments and visited friends and relatives.  They rolled bandages and wrote to their loved ones overseas.  There was always a movie theater in town to watch the newsreels and latest movies.

Children did real homework out of books and on paper.  Kids were seen everywhere playing hopscotch, Red Rover, Statues, RedLight-GreenLight, jacks, jump rope, dolls or they would read or just plain make up their own games.  I’m certain I’ve forgotten a number of the activities that went on – what do you remember?  I realize most of the states were not mentioned and I had very little data for countries outside the U.S., so let’s hear from all of you!  Allow Judy and me to learn your stories and that of your town, state or country.

Last, but definitely not least – the radio.  Big stars like Abbott and Costello continued touring the U.S., making movies and performing their skits for the wireless.

Abbott and Costello

Abbott and Costello

Resources:  Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”;  USO.org;  Westtexastribune.com;  Thomas Carnival.com; “Let the Good Times Roll” by Paul D. Casolorph; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes;  Wikianswers.com;  neohiocontradance.org;  StLaw.edu;  digicoll.library.wisc.edu; npr.org

If you enjoyed these Guest Posts by GPCox, you might also enjoy http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com , the story of the 11th Airborne written by gpcox. Be sure to check it out. Tomorrow I’ll begin posting letters written in 1942. Lad and Dan are both in Uncle Sam’s service, Ced is in Alaska, Dick and Dave are still in school in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Guest Post – Women of World War II by GPCox

By: gpcox:  http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

I want to apologize to gpcox because there are five pictures in this post and for some reason, they will not transfer when I post this article. I’ve tried it several ways and they just won’t come through.

As WWII unfolded around the globe, women were also affected.  Some found themselves pressed into jobs and duties they would never have previously considered.  Hitler derided Americans as degenerate for putting the women to work, but nearly 350,000 American females alone served in uniform voluntarily.  A transformation of half the population, never seen before, that began evolving in the early ‘40’s and continues today.

For the WASPs, 1,830 female pilots volunteered for Avenger Field outside Sweetwater, Texas alone and it was the only co-ed air base in the U.S.  These women would ferry aircraft coming off the assembly lines from the factories to the base.  They acted as test pilots; assessing the performance of the planes.  The WASPs were flight instructors and would shuttle officers around to the posts where they were needed.  For artillery practice, they would tow the target.  During their service, 38 of these brave women died.

A wonderful story was given to me by my longtime friend, Carol Schlaepfer, about Pearl Brummett Judd, a WASP pilot she met in California.  Pearl was a test pilot flying the Stearman, PT-17; North American AT-6; Vultee BT-13; Cessna UC-78 and AT-17.  In an interview, she said, “The B-29 was a little touchy.  The engines caught on fire.”  Pearl Judd and her fellow WASP sisters (or their survivors) finally received a Congressional Gold Medal for their services in March 2010.  25,000 women in all applied for the WASPs; in Pearl’s class of 114 women, only 49 graduated.  The symbol for the WASPS, shown below, uses the image of Pearl Judd.  They did not receive veteran status until 1977 and did not have the right to have a flag on their coffin until 2000.

WACs, (Women’s Army Corps), the nurses were on active duty around the world.  But, the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service of the Navy); the SPARS (U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve) and Women’s Marines were prohibited by law from serving outside the U. S.  At Cherry Point Marine Air Station in North Carolina, 80% of the control tower operations were done by the female Marines.  Nearly all the SPARS and WAVES officers were college graduates and worked in finance, chemical warfare or aerological engineering.  Some were assigned to install radar on the warships.

WWII enabled women to be involved in top-secret operations for the first time.  These women dealt with LORAN stations, night-fighter training and watched the screens for unusual “blips.”  They took in messages from the British “Enigma” intelligence about German activity.  The OSS hired women as agents, as we discussed on my post at:                                                                   http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/allied-spies-saboteurs/

The first WACS to arrive in the Pacific were sent to Australia, 2 ½ years after Pearl Harbor, in May 1944.  In Port Moresby, New Guinea they served within barbed wire compounds (any dates with the men had be pre-approved)  As the forces moved from island to island, the WACS followed after the area was secured from the enemy.  Yet, despite these precautions, 68 service women were captured as POWs in the Philippines and 565 WACS in the Pacific Theater alone won combat decorations for bravery under fire and meritous service.  Nurses were in Normandy on D-Day+4.  In the Army Nurse Corps, 16 were killed as a result of enemy fire.  A Red Cross woman was also killed during an attack on the 95th Evacuation Hospital.  Also in the ETO, when their plane was forced to crash land behind enemy lines, Lt. Agnes Mangerich and 13 other nurses, male technicians and the pilot marched for 62 days before reaching safety.

A fascinating story of WAVE, Margaret Hain, can be found at fellow blogger, Don Moore’s site:

http://donmooreswartails.com/2013/08/23/margaret-hain/

American women did more than join the military…..

Alice Newcomer graduated George Washington University in 1943 and immediately began working in the Lend-Lease Program.  The 400-500 people employed there easily dealt with billions of dollars in war materiel, but when it came to how much should be shipped in civilian supplies, she said no one quite knew where to draw the line.  Hilda O’Brien, fresh out of Columbia Univ. Graduate School, started her career in the Justice Dept.  Kay Halle, a radio broadcaster, worked for the OSS in Morale Operations and became known as Mata Halle.  (Many of these operations still remain secret.)  Sally Knox was an editor for what was a part of the Army Air Force.  She was in Detroit and then Wright Field near Dayton, Ohio. (Which later became Patterson Air Force Base)  She helped to prepare military publications.

Coralee Redmond of Tacoma, Washington had a husband, 9 children and several brothers who worked for the war effort or served in the military.  She and one daughter worked in the shipyards while her other daughter went to work for Boeing in Seattle.  [No one could doubt her contributions.]  On 29 April 1943, the National Labor Board issued a report to give equal pay for women working in war industries.  To see the actual report, a fellow blogger has posted it:

http://todayinlaborhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/april-29-1943-2/

In Canada, besides having their own Canadian Women’s Army Corps, the women showed their national pride, not only by entering the masculine sphere of work to release the men to serve in the military, but by using their domestic talents in volunteer work.  The War Services Fund was supported in this way.  Their civic and community pride provided various forms of aid to the war effort.

In New Zealand, the women of WWII were also doing their part.  The Women’s War Service Auxiliary worked in the Transport Division, firefighting, canteen work, camouflage netting, ambulance work and even had an orchard and gardening section.  Their WAAF (Women’s Aux Air Force) had cipher officers, pilots, mechanics and meteorologists.  Noeline and Daphne Petrie, after joining the WAAF, were stationed at Woodbourne and Fiji.  And, we cannot forget the nurses.  Our fellow blogger, Gallivanta at: http://silkandthreads.wordpress.com gave me the link for this information and for books that are available: http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/heritage/warandconflicts/worldwar2/servicewomen/

Australian women as early as 1939 were trained in jobs to free the men to enlist.  The Women’s Emergency Signaling Corps were based in Sydney.  The Woman’s Flying Club were not pilots, but trained to be mechanics and the Women’s Transport Corps passed rigorous driving tests for truck driving and ambulances.

In Britain there was a definite industrial segregation of men and women in industry, but as the war continued to rage, the barriers lessened out of necessity.  They began transporting coal on the inland waterways, joining the Fire Service and Auxiliary Police Corps.  They began to be “drafted” into the Women’s Royal Naval Service (“WRENS”), Auxiliary Air Force and Air Transport.  The women of Britain played a vital role in all phases of the war including the French underground, Special Operations and anti-aircraft units.

Finland had the organization, Lotta Svard, where the women voluntarily took part in auxiliary work of the armed forces to help the men fighting on the front.  At home, they were nurses and air raid signalers.  The Lotta Svard was one of the largest voluntary groups of WWII; although they never fired guns which was a rule of their group.

The Soviet Union utilized women pretty much from the start of the war and they were NOT auxiliary.  Approximately 800,000 served in front line units.  They were part of the antiaircraft units as well, firing the guns and acting as snipers.  Klavdiya Kalugina was their youngest female sniper starting her military service at age 17.

An interesting story about Irena Sendler in war-torn Warsaw, go to fellow blogger’s page at:

http://abigaleblood.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/a-triumph-and-tragedy-for-womens-history/

Judy and I would appreciate hearing any and all stories you have.  Let’s hear from every country out there!!

Resources: University of Fraser Valley; ww2 database; “Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes; ctch.binghampton.edu; Wikipedia; publicworks.qld.go; Australia.gov.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting letters written in 1942. The year is coming to an end.  Lad is still unsure when he will be getting to California because he will be stopping on the way at the Wolverine Plant in Flint, Michigan for further training in Diesel engines. Dan is in Red Lion, Pennsylvania continuing his training and Ced is still in Alaska,

Judy Guion

 

Guest Post – The Role of Sports: WW II by GPCox

 

GPCox  shares the role sports played during World War II in entertaining those left at home. Sports was a diversion from the everyday reports of how the war was progressing in the various fronts around the world.

By: gpcox http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

Chesterfield ad

Chesterfield ad

The movies and newsreels of WWII provided information and diversion for many at the home front, but none could provide the escape and release of stress for the civilian as much as sports.

South Florida maintained a carnival atmosphere with the Hialeah Race Track and West Flagler Kennel Club, which took in $100,000 nightly – just to prove my point.  And, somehow, travel restrictions did not deter the action at Miami’s Tropical Park.  Horse racing went on, despite the war, in every country.  All in all, racing boomed as the 68thrunning of the Kentucky Derby went off with 100,000 in the crowd.  Unfortunately, this was the same day that 68 men had been taken by the Japanese at Bataan; they were all members of D Company, 192d Tank Battalion, out of Kentucky.

The war did not stop the golfers either as the tournaments and professional tours continued.  Sam Snead, fresh back from the Navy, played in the 1944 tourney; he came in second to Byron Nelson. (gpcox met Snead at the ‘Sail Inn’ in Delray Beach, FL when he would drop in for lunch after a game with friends.)

In boxing, Joe Louis started the idea of holding a sports event for the war effort.  He announced in 1942 that his profits from the bout against Buddy Blair would go to the Naval Relief fund.  The gate was $200,000 and Louis finished off his opponent in 2 minutes and 56 seconds.  Louis was drafted three days later.

Not to be outdone, a profitable pro-football contest was held between the National League All-Stars and the

Growing up during World War II

Growing up during World War II

Chicago Bears and these profits also went to the Naval Relief Fund.  The National Football League was forced to reduce to a 42 game season in 1943 due to all the draftees, but Coach George Halas brought home two championship titles for the Bears, 1940 & 1942; while Curly Lambeau’s Green Bay Packers won it in 1944.

As during most of WWII, 1943 in New Zealand had no Rugby International matches played, but the West Coast did retain the Northern Union Cup.  England and Australia were unable to hold their tennis championships, such as Wimbledon, for the extent of the war.

In 1942, the Rose Bowl was moved to Duke Stadium in North Carolina to avoid having large crowds converge anywhere on the west coast.  Dallas, Texas had 38,000 for the Cotton Bowl that year and 35,505 amassed in Miami for the Orange Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs 46 – Horned Frogs 40.  The annual Army-Navy game brought 66,000 to Baltimore’s Municipal Stadium in 1944, when Coach “Doc” Blanchard led the Army, not only to victory, but a perfect season.

Professional baseball was as hot as ever when 37,815 fans watched the American League Browns, in Sportsman Park, beat the New York Yankees for the pennant 1 October 1944.  This made the World Series an all-St. Louis affair against the Cardinals.  Truman was there watching as the Cardinals won their fifth world crown.  The Yankees won it in 1943 against the Cardinals.

As most people are aware, the baseball racial barrier was not broken until 1947 when Jackie Robinson walked out on the field, so during WWII there were two Negro leagues.  (As they were called back in the day.)  Out of Hometown, Pennsylvania, “Josh” Gibson and Walter Johnson dominated the games.  In the Washington Griffith Stadium, he had the long-ball hitter record of 563 feet, (Babe Ruth’s record was 550’) and a .541 batting average in 1943.

Rockford Peaches - 1944

Rockford Peaches – 1944

And, we cannot close this section of baseball without mentioning the AAGPBL – the All-American Professional Baseball League, also known as the “lipstick league.”  They were the “Girls of Summer” depicted in the newspapers as “Queens of Swat” and “Belles of the Ball Game.”  They referred to each other by nicknames like: ‘Jeep,’ ‘Flash,’ ‘Pepper’ and ‘Moe.”  The league premiered in 1943 and

Dorothy Kamenshak

Dorothy Kamenshak

would last for 12 years.  There were 545 female athletes that made up the ten teams and their popularity would eventually draw a million fans.  These women have been honored by the movie, “A League of Their Own” in 1992 and finally received tribute in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame in 1988.

Young adults (the word “teenager” was not really used back then), used sporting events as a gathering spot for camaraderie among friends and also to help fill the void of adult male influence that was prevalent in so many homes.  In the “Corn Belt,” basketball ranked as the number one sport, but there was also tennis, golf, a tumbling club, fencing and even Ping-Pong clubs.  High school games were even broadcasted on the radio.  The girls would join a Booster Club to be their school’s cheering squad and wearing their boyfriend’s sports jacket was a major status symbol.

Early 1940's - Risen (TX) Football

Early 1940’s – Risen (TX) Football

Not all sports were organized.  Boys played stick ball in the city streets and in the suburbs, a basketball hoop attached to a garage door attracted neighbors.  Church picnics and block parties always included a multitude of games and sports to occupy the younger set.  Communities were kept closely knit that way, like Kerry Corner, the Irish working-class neighborhood not far from Harvard yard.  They organized their own baseball and basketball games.  John “Lefty” Caulfield formed a baseball scholarship program before he enlisted in the Navy because it had done so much for him.  Those that returned from the war became part of the ROMEO Club, (Retired Old Men Eating Out), to maintain those childhood friendships.

Capt. Glen Miller preparing for performance at 1943 Yale Bowl

Capt. Glen Miller preparing for performance at 1943 Yale Bowl

Harry James, better known as a big band leader for the ‘Swing Era’ was also a one-time Detroit Tigers prospect.  He organized his own band into a team, complete with uniforms.  Louise Tobin, singer with many of the big bands, said, “The boys were hired first because they could play baseball; second for their instruments.”  Fellow musicians said you had to have a .300 average to get an audition with Harry.  The band’s manager added, “They carried more equipment for baseball than music…  Another bus on the road would probably be a band and we’d stop and play a game.”  Mr. James gave his all for baseball as captain, pitcher and the heaviest hitter.

For the home front, living during a world war was an experience no one of today’s generation has experienced.  Judy and I have attempted to portray both the hardships they lived through and some of the activities that helped them to endure and be molded into the “Greatest Generation.”  I’m certain I have missed at least a million or so stories out there that are related to the sports of the 40’s, so let’s hear some!!

A great big thank you to gpcox for the research needed to put together this post. I hope you enjoyed it.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1946. Dave’s homecoming is getting closer and closer and so is the arrival of Grandpa’s third grandchild over in France. 

Judy Guion

Guest Post – Hooray For Hollywood by GPCox

GPCox has done a fantastic job of research for this Guest Post. I learned quite a bit about the participation and personal sacrifices made by some very famous people. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Hollywood was aware of the threat of war long before Pearl Harbor.  The show biz paper “Variety” called the films

Abbott and Costello

Abbott and Costello

‘preparedness pix’ and by the end of 1940, there were 36 titles concerning the subject: “I Married a Nazi,” “Sergeant York” and “British Intelligence” were among them.  Non-Japanese oriental actors or Caucasians were hired to play the roles of Japanese villains, such as Peter Lorre as ‘Mr. Moto.’  War movies came out in the theatres as though popping off an assembly line.  Greer Garson seemed to save the entire British Army from Dunkirk in “Mrs. Minivier.”  Abbott and Costello continued their comedy routines in such films as “Keep’em Flying” and “Buck Privates.”  The home front craved to be entertained and listened to the comedy skits performed on radio, where the message was often ‘loose lips sink ships’.

The OWI had objections as to the content of some films, such as the youthful character ‘Andy Hardy’ that seemed oblivious that a war was being fought at all and the famous “Casablanca” that provided no message of purpose or example of U.S. patriotism.  Archibald MacLeish said that the theaters were “escapist and delusive.”  The OWI had no problem with radio programs such as “Amos & Andy” and “Fibber McGee and Molly,” both of which not only entertained the public, but got the war time messages out – loud and clear.  Singers were popping up not just in the radio shows.  Now the sweep of juke boxes was found in diners, taverns, barber shops and even gas stations.

 Shirley Temple serving the G.I.s

Shirley Temple serving the G.I.s

But, the actors and behind-the-scenes crews did far more for the war effort than the movies and radio shows.  The charismatic Clark Gable headed the Actor’s Committee for Stage, Screen & Radio and immediately began organizing tour groups to provide benefit performances for the Red Cross, Navy Relief Fund and many more.  Carole Lombard, actress and Gable’s wife, was killed during one of these tours and Dorothy Lamour (of the “Road to…” movies fame) finished her schedule of 10,000 miles to different defense plants and shipyards.  After recovering from a horrific bout of depression, Gable joined the Air Force.

The Hollywood Canteen was started by John Garfield and he made Bette Davis the President of the organization.

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

The actress converted a livery stable into the social center of Hollywood with the aid of studio workmen.  Hedy Lamarr, when asked to help out in the kitchen, replied that she couldn’t cook.  Davis put her to work washing dishes and Lamarr ended up meeting her future husband at the canteen.  Wikipedia lists 300 celebrities that contributed to the canteen’s success.

A movie was made in 1944 simply called, “Hollywood Canteen,” and was filled with a cast that played themselves.  To name only a few that appeared: Andrew Sisters, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Sydney Greenstreet, Alan Hale, and Peter Lorre.

Glen Miller

Glen Miller

With all that Hollywood was doing for the war effort, General Lewis Hersey provided draft deferments, but many enlisted anyway.  Jimmy Stewart gained ten pounds so that he would pass the physical.  I have greatly shortened the list from www.jodavidsmeyer.com to give everyone an idea of their service.

Don Adams  (“Get Smart”) – USMC Guadalcanal

James Arness (“Gunsmoke”) –  U.S. Army – wounded at Anzio, Bronze Star & Purple Heart

James Arness

James Arness

Ernest Borgnine  (“McHale’s Navy”) – U.S. Navy, 12 years, joined before WWII

Mel Brooks  (Director, Producer, Actor) – U.S. Army, Battle of the Bulge

Julia Child  (Chef) – OSS service in Ceylon and China

Charles Durning (TV, movies & stage) – U.S. Army, Omaha Beach D-Day, 3 Purple Hearts & Silver Star

Glen Ford (movie star) – U.S. Navy Captain, remained in reserves after the war, retired after Vietnam

Lee Marvin (movie star) – USMC, Saipan

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly (Dancer, movies & stage) – U.S. Naval Air Service

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson (“Tonight Show”) – U.S. Navy Ensign

Ed McMahon (“Tonight Show”) – USMC captain, Corsair fighter pilot, also served in Korean War

Ed McMahon

Ed McMahon

Bea Arthur  (“Maude,” “Golden Girls”) – USMC SSgt.

Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur

During WWII, the Greatest Generation proved that all needed to work together, and the same goes today.  Judy and I want every story put down for posterity, so let us know your stories…

RESOURCES:  “Let the Good Times Roll” by Paul D. Casolorph; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes; Wikipedia; Hollywood Canteen.net, Internet Movie Database; otrcat.com; tumbler; midatlanticnostalgia convention.com

Do you have any memories of war movies or stories about entertainment during the War? Share them in your comments. Check out GPCox’s Blog, pacificicparatrooper.wordpress.com . On it, you’ll learn all about the Pacific Theater and the battles occurring in that part of the world.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting letters written in 1944.All the boys are scattered around the world and doing their part to support Uncle Sam while Grandpa holds sown the fort at the old homestead in Trumbull.

Judy Guion