July 1942

As the hot, humid, sweltering  July skies beared down upon the sweating brows of Laurens Countians, some experts began to postulate that the war may come to a quick, merciful end by the end of the year, at least in Europe.  The decisive victory by the United States Navy over the Japanese fleet at Midway raised hopes to a early  end to the war.  Across the globe in Europe and Africa where the fighting was in its infancy, strategic planners began to fear a more  protracted  and deadlier war.  Uncertainty and anxiety haunted everyone.  Only the faith, hope, and patriotism of the citizenry kept up the hopes of a closer end to the war despite that the front pages of the courier herald invariably contained the names of new young men joining the armed forces.

The news of the fate of those Laurens County men serving in the Philippine Islands slowly began to trickle in.  Around the 4th of July, following the fall of the Philippines in the early spring, Joe Grier, a Dublin native and the son of Alice Grier, was listed as missing in action by the War Department.  Government officials presumed that he was either killed during the collapse of the former American colony or that he was taken prisoner.  A trombonist in the first Dublin High School band formed in 1937, Grier was a member of the United States Army Air Corps since 1940.   Some thirteen months of uncertainty and anguish, the dreaded telegram came from the American Red Cross to the home of his mother, Alice Williamson Grier.   A thorough search for the location of Grier’s burial place remains unknown.

In mid-July, news of he capture of Lt. Peter Fred Larsen was published in the Courier Herald.  Larsen, too, suffered a similar, yet much more gristly, fate than Joe Grier.   The lieutenant was also captured and sent to a Japanese Prisoner of War camp.  After barely surviving a quarter of decade in filthy, overcrowded mass of diseased and starving prisoners,  while constantly inhaling the gagging stench of death and dying, Larsen and many of his fellow soldiers were crammed like cattle in the holds of Japanese cargo ships. In the winter of 1945, Larsen’s ship, its cargo unknown to American, fighter and bomber pilots, was destroyed by friendly fire.

News of the death of native Dubliner Roderick Watts, whose name you won’t find on Laurens County’s monument to the lost of World War II, came three months after he was lost at sea during the sinking of his merchant ship of the coast of southern Florida.

Charles E. Golden, who escaped similar fates, wrote home that he survived the sinking of the merchant ship, the SS Ohian, off the coast of Central Florida.

Lt. Robert Werden, Jr., who desperately wanted to fly an airplane for his country, finally awarded his wings at Moody Field in Valdosta.    Werden volunteered for the service a month before the war began.  After studying at the University of Georgia, The Citadel, and Georgia Military Academy in Gainsville, he was accepted for cadet training at Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama.   Werden’s training continued at Dorr Field, Arcadia, Florida, Bush Field in Augusta. He played football at the Citadel in college.

Robert Thurston Adams and Emory Alexander Beckham, wanted to fly too.  They began their flight training at Maxwell Field in Alabama.  Lt. Werden and Lt. Adams would soon lose their lives when their planes were shot down.  Beckham survived the war and retired after twenty years with the rank of Major in the U.S. Air Force.

Civil Defense activities were still on the rise.  The first test of a 45-minute blackout, on the second Tuesday of July,  was nearly perfect, when only three businesses left their lights on.

Dr. W.W. Shannon, of Pennsylvania, spoke at the First Baptist Church on Biblical prophecy in the war.  Dr. Shannon, who served his country by ministering to the needs of servicemen around the country, was assisted by  a 27-year-old,  budding evangelist, the Rev. Michael Guido.

For more than a half of a century, Dr. Guido broadcasted his “Seeds From the Sower” radio message which at its peak aired on more than 400 radio station and nearly 100 television stations.  His columns were published in at least 1,300 newspapers.

An unusual piece of mail was left in the mail box of Mr. and Mrs. T. D. Wood, the smaller than normal sized letter would become known as V-Mail, or Victory Mail.  Reduced in size to save paper, the letter itself was a photostatic copy of their son’s usual salutations. Pvt. Wood, bound by the restrictions of not disclosing military information, reported that the English people were nice.

The first of the month saw the beginning of the rationing of gasoline.  Citizens were directed to go to their neighborhood schools and church to obtain a permanent gas rationing cards.  Tight restrictions were put in effect for all new and used tire dealers.

Well known young men’s families and friends were covered as they were promoted in rank or given new assignments.  Captain W.O. Bedingfield was promoted to Chief of Service at Moody Airfield.  Lt. James S. Graves wrote from Australia that the boys from Laurens County were doing their bit down under.  Lt. George Martin Willis was assigned to duty at Napier Field in Dothan, Alabama.

The young girls of the city, whose’s brothers, friends, and sweethearts, were away in the service, staged a massive bond drive all over the city to sell bonds and war savings stamps.

The local state guards unit 275, commanded by Lt. Hartley Hobbs, was authorized  to increase its number of members to fifty seven.  The guards met for unit drills on Thursday nights in their West Jackson Street headquarters.    The men, mostly under aged and over aged men, served with no pay.

As more and more local men left for duty around the country and abroad, more and more people began to send care packages from home.  E.F. Moxley urged more participation in the program even suggesting that everyone send in their worn out phonograph records for recycling, the proceeds for which would be used to buy personal items for the boys in the service.

Two hundred and thirty seven days of war was beginning to take its toll on the people of Laurens County and America.   But the war was long from over. There would three more years of death, anguish, and suffering only slightly diminished by the fervent patriotism that had never before or since been seen in America.