January 1942

Today’s article is the first in a series of forty-five monthly articles which commemorate the 75th anniversary of World War II  and honor those Laurens Countians who served in World War II on the home front, around the country and across the oceans, in both military and civilian roles.

Dublin and Laurens County had made it through Christmas, a quite different Christmas than ever before.   Everyone has wished for a quick end of the war, but all feared a very long and dreadfully deadly war which could last for many, many years.

On the first day of the year 1942, newspapers across the nation published a long list of lieutenant colonels breveted to colonel.   Included in that list was the name of Col. Calvin Hinton Arnold, who was based out his parent’s home in Dublin, then a city of 8,000 people. Col. Arnold, a native of Swainsboro and a veteran of World War I, would eventually become a brigadier general in the U.S. Army.

On January 4, just 29 days into the war, the ministers of Laurens County led a mass meeting at the courthouse on a Sunday afternoon to discuss civilian defense operations and the new restrictions on automobile tires.   On that same day, 18 Jewish soldiers stationed at Camp Wheeler in Macon, traveled to Dublin to enjoy a special day of entertainment, food and fun in the homes of Dublin’s Jewish families, which included the Kaplans, Leases, Caplans, Dunns and Hankins families.

John Couric, Jr., (left) a former Dublin and Macon, newspaperman and future father of television news anchor, Katie Couric, enlisted in the United States Navy and reported to Norfolk, Virginia for intense Naval training.   He served in both the Mediterranean and the Pacific.  As a member of the Naval Reserve, Couric retired in 1965 with the rank of lieutenant commander.

A seven-hour air raid test was held on January 12 under the direction of Air  Warden Director  W.H. Proctor at all of the 14 air raid posts around the county, each manned by 20 men working on shifts.  

One of Dublin’s first airmen, Lt. William H. Keen was commissioned at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School in Victoria, Texas, Class 42-A, Keen had attended North Georgia College.

Twenty-one-year- old Robert Adams, son of Judge Wiley Adams, wanted so desperately to joined the air corps that he overcame his underweight status by “stuffing himself with milk and bananas.   Lt. Adams got his wish to fly, but on September 12, 1944  he would be shot down and killed over Europe.

Two of Dublin’s most active and experienced  fliers, W.H. “Bud” Barron, Jr. and Isadore “Izzy” Lease, joined the Army Air Corps Ferrying Command out of Nashville, Tennessee, where they flew planes from the Vultee Company plant to their points of departure.  Barron would go on to become one of top leaders in the amount of miles flow by U.S. Army Air Corps pilots during the war.

Dublin residents had read of the details of bombing of Pearl Harbor in newspapers and magazines and saw moving pictures of the raid on newsreels at city’s only movie theater,  Rose Theater, but few had heard specific eye witness accounts, which came from Laurens County’s first war refugees.

Mrs. Flora. Perry, speaking to a Macon Telegraph reporter, from the home of her sister in law, Mrs. John Rowe, on Joiner Street, said, “I was at my home near Hickam Field when the raid started, and like most everyone else, thought at first it was our own planes coming overhead.”

“Pretty soon, however, my next-door neighbor and I, who were standing together in front of the house realized it was something else when the bullets started to fly and we saw bombs being dropped on the barracks about a mile away,” Mrs. Perry continued.

I did not panic, but I took my baby inside the house and stayed there until the authorities came to remove us to Honolulu.

“I’m  glad my husband, L.B. Perry, a boatswains mate, wasn’t there because he might have been killed. He was on duty aboard a naval vessel somewhere out at sea,” recalled Perry who didn’t see him at all until she reached a port in California.

Mrs. Perry could not express any exciting details concluding, “ That’s all there was to it.  The shooting stared and after my baby and  I got inside there was nothing to do.  We just stayed there waiting for it all to get over with.”

The attack came closer than she originally thought when she founded a bullet hole in the screen door of her house.  Mrs. Perry and her baby  moved to Honolulu, where she stayed until Christmas before traveling to California and coming home to stay with her husbands family home in Dublin.

Near the end of January, Laurens County began to finalize its civilian defense plans. Under the leadership of Dublin Mayor Dee Sessions, Assistant Civilian Defense Chief, Stanley Reese, Dublin Police Chief J.W. Robertson, Fire Chief C.D. Devereaux, and city aldermen; W.P. Tindol, Martin Willis, E.B. Mackey, D.T. Cowart, and Freeman O’Neal, the local manager of of the Georgia Power Company.  

Members of United Daughters of the Confederacy and American Legion Auxiliary, at the suggestion of the fervent patriot, Miss Adelaine Baum, served sandwiches and hot coffee to those men being inducted into the service as well as any troops passing through just as the ladies did during World War I.  H.H. Dudley agreed to buy sandwiches and coffee for African American selective service inductees while M.A,  Ingram  served the troops around the induction centers and train depots.

A call was sent out for members of the home defense corps.  All who are not classified as  1-A were still need to provide an adequate as possible defense in the event of an enemy attack.  A sufficient number of women and black men have registered.  The most  urgent needs were air raid wardens, auxiliary policemen  and fire fighters.  Missing in the plan was the lost of one of two Dublin hospitals, Claxton Hospital, which burned the weekend after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

While the first quota of $5000.00 quota for the Red Cross had not yet been met, money was still coming in contributions from less than a dollar to the $87.50 donated by George T. Morris.

An early sign of how difficult life was going to be on the home front came at the end of January when it was announced that quotas for automobile tires were going to be cut in Laurens County.    Later that spring food and other essential critical items began to be rationed.