November to December 1942

As the first year of America’s involvement was coming to an arduous end, scrap drives in Laurens County and Red Cross activities remained on a steady pace.  More tragic reports of deaths and captivity in Japanese prisoner of war camps were being published.  Despite the good news reports coming out the Pacific, there was still a rear fear of the future held during the inevitable invasion of Europe.

A unique navy unit, the Fighting Irish Platoon, was created by Chief Petty Officers, A.J. Millrens and Y.D. Bakewell, who were based in the Federal Building in Dublin.  The platoon was composed of men from Laurens County and the surrounding area.  The group of 17 to 50-year-Olds was scheduled to be kept together through basic training.  Then they had the option to attend naval trade schools.  The initial goal was to recruit 100 men by Nov. 20.  Twenty men answered the call and left home the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

Among the local men who joined the Fighting Irish Platoon were: James T. Sutton, James W. Turner, Harold H. Moore, Earl Smith, Varme Elllington, Euree Franks,   Verma Horne, Herbert Ethridge, Fred L. Warren, James L. Nelson, and Conner McAfee, Jesse R. Frost, William T. Floyd, Grady Hall, Joseph C. Riner, Samuel Nelson, Otto McGee, Edward Jackson Neal,  and Tennys Rawlins. 

On the home front, Captain A. T. Coleman, of the Georgia State Guards, was promoted to Major of the Dublin unit. Members of the Red Cross accelerated the making of kit bags for the men in the services.

On a sad note, the War Production Board for the remainder of the war banned the use of electricity for municipal Christmas displays, an annual tradition going back to 1914, when the City of Dublin became one of the first cities in the United States to have a lighted Christmas tree on the public square.  To add insult to injury, Christmas lights were only allowed in the interior of private homes.

Woody Dominy, of Cadwell, who was captured by the Japanese in the Pacific was one first to be allowed to write home.  In a letter to his parents from his prison camp in Shanghai, China,  Dominy wrote that he was well and was given good care, including three meals a day and sufficient clothing, along the chance to , play ball games, and improve their own quarters.

It was a happy and joyous day, when Lt. Paul J. Scarboro, came home to Dublin to visit his brother A.C. Scarboro on Bellevue Road.  Scarboro, piloting and co-piloting a flying fortress,  had seen heavy action in the battles of the Coral Sea, Borneo, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, miraculously going unscathed. In his first year of service, the 26-year-old Lt. Scarboro was awarded a Silver Star, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.     

Tail Gunner, Wallace Walke of Dublin, wasn’t so lucky.  While from his base in South Africa, Walke’s plane flew 650 miles to in horrible weather as a part of 50-plane attack on Japanese forces in the lower South Pacific.  The plane’s pilot, Captain Ted Joham, saw six enemy zeroes coming right toward his plane.  As the plane headed for safety near Santa Isabel, the planes ball turret was inoperable.  The top gunner shot down on enemy plane.  Walke got another one just before a third plane went down in planes.

The fighters sandwiched themselves in between two American bombers and commenced to pour fire into Walke’s flying fortress.  The Captain recalled, “We could see daylight through the tail.”    His control stick began to fail.  The Captain managed to get the plane back to a safe landing area.  Before landing, Captain Joham, ordered his crew to bail out.  All of the crew refused the order and chose to go down with the plane to safety or death as a crew.

Joham glided the plane to a touchdown at an air speed of 100 mph.  The crew managed to survive despite the fact that the plane bounced 25 feet in the air after the initial touchdown.

More and more Laurens Countians were taking jobs at Wellston, the future, Warner Robins, the work at the bomb plant.  Service coach lines set up three trips a day to and from  the plant.

Wade Claxton, a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and a native of Dublin, was reported missing in action as he was piloting a fighter plane in support of the 8th British Army in Libya in North Africa.  

Perhaps the saddest and most widespread sympathy came just before Christmas,   was the reports of the unexpected death of Colonel Lewis Cleveland Pope.  Colonel  Pope joined the Georgia National Guard in his teens.  In 1919, Pope was appointed as Captain of Company A of he 121st Infantry of the Georgia National Guard.  Pope’s company is credited with being the first company organized in National Guard in the southern states.  He later rose to the rank of major and then to lieutenant colonel, and finally in 1924 became the commanding officer of the 121st regiment.   Gov. Thomas Hardwick, of Sandersville and later Dublin, appointed Pope as the Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard in the 1920s. 

Pope, in his late 50s, went with the local national guard unit in the mobilization in 1940.  Pope was stationed in Columbia, S.C. as a part of the 30th Division at Fort Jackson.His brother, Flannery Pope, also a member of the national guard and a future mayor of Dublin, was a lieutenant colonel serving at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Christmas wasn’t the same.  There was no joy in the air.  It was the first time when Christmas went inside.  Lots of products were rationed, no traveling to grandmas, no grand dinners, and few toys, and automobiles.  Gifts were simple, but much appreciated.  The greatest of these gifts were hope, faith, and the greatest of all of these, love.  It was these three Godly gifts, plus the love of country and the desire to be free of tyranny which would guide the servicemen in their mission to keep America free and to hold the hands of the servicemen.  Somewhere along the path through the horrors of war, Americans’ came together for the last time.  It was this dedication which led us through the Armageddon and through the shining light of victory over the Axis powers.