We left our Church Family and our Town in August of 1944 with their lives completely dominated by the War, and with the sudden rise in wounding and deaths of our local servicemen with the escalation of the war on the European theatre beginning with the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France in June. Each weekly edition of the Girard News, brought the story of more Girard boys injured or killed. However, nationally the war news was positive. Our troops along with our allies were pushing the German army back toward Germany and out of France. In late August Paris was liberated with much jubilation by the small but valiant Free French Army led by General Charles De Gaulle. The casualty count simply reflected the greater number of our troops in battle as the European theatre proceeded on several fronts attacking the Germans from the north, south and west.
The September 1st edition of the News told of a new war plant to occupy the old A M Byers plant which was now empty. They were going to hire 40 to 50 workers, needing press operators and die setters. All production would be devoted to the war effort.
The casualty rate for this week was 6 men wounded, and 1 missing in action. Meanwhile, our church family members not away at war, continued with their church work. The Alethea Class met for a corn roast on a Tuesday evening, September 7th at the home of Mrs. L. C. Underwood. Mrs. Hotchkiss led the discussion of the Study Book for the coming year, “Highlights of the Bible”. The next meeting of the class would be at the home of Miss Edith Howells, 2257 Volney Rd, in Youngstown.
The September 8th edition of the News reported casualties for the week of 1 wounded and 1 killed. The edition of September 15th reported 2 Girard men missing in action and 1 wounded.
On September 13th the Friendly Class met at the church in the evening for a dinner meeting, with over 40 present. After dinner entertainment consisted of Donald Robinson playing several violin selections accompanied by his wife on the piano.
The September 22nd edition of the News reported 1 man killed and 2 wounded.
The WSCS met Monday evening at the church for their regular monthly meeting at 7:30 on September 25th.
The Friday, September 29th edition of the News reported “Five War Casualties This Week”. Two men were killed in action, 3 wounded, and one man who had been reported missing in action had, happily, been found and was now back with his regiment.
That edition of the News also reported that, on the previous Saturday evening, thirty members of our MYF enjoyed a Hayride at North Jackson in place of their regular meeting.
Our church attendance during the month ran from 263 on Labor Day weekend, to 287 on the last Sunday of the month.
This was our church and our town in September, 1944 – life dominated by the war, but still attending church weekly and going to their small group meetings regularly.
We left our church family at the end of July, 1944, knowing that the invasion at Normandy had been successful, but hard fought. News trickled in slowly, the dreaded telegrams telling of the death of a loved family member, only arriving after a period of several weeks. As always much of the information in this blog comes from the Girard News microfilm archive from Girard Free Library, along with our church archives.
It is hard for us to realize how different life was seventy-five years ago, especially the slow pace of the news. Girard lies between Youngstown and Warren, both cities having a daily newspaper. Niles also had a daily paper. Girard is closer in distance to Youngstown but they lie in different counties. Girard folks had their choice of three daily papers, but their weekly paper, the Girard News, gave them the local stories, so it was well supported by the community. National news, especially war news came over the radio every evening, along with newsreels seen at the local theaters.
The fifth national war bond effort had begun in late May, just before the D-Day invasion. Sales were slow, many families feeling tapped out by their previous purchases of bonds. However, when news of the successful invasion came, people finally felt the war was progressing. We were freeing our ally, France, and driving the Nazi regime back to Germany. The change of mood was reflected in support for the bond campaign. The headline of the August 4th edition of the Girard News read “Bond Sales Total $ 949,066”. This was more than $300,000 over the quota for the Girard-McDonald combined campaign.
These figures are impressive even today. However, back in 1944, folks did not begin to earn as much money as we do today. Of course, the dollar back then bought more. But, just to make clear what the average wage was, I looked back at our church records for the month of August, 1944. Total church expenditures were $630.96 for the month. This included utilities, salaries, and supplies for Sunday School and church services. Of the list of expenditures, our pastor, Rev. Arthur Maly, received two checks, each one $ 115.00. Thus, his monthly salary was $230, and his annual salary was $2,760, which was probably a fairly average yearly wage.. Of course, the $949 thousand was the face value of the bonds, an amount redeemable a number of years in the future. The actual amount paid was not given in the article. I believe it varied depending on the type of bond purchased. However, there was no doubt of the support of everyone in our country for the war. It was a rare family who had no one who had either volunteered or been drafted – uncles, cousins, brothers. They were putting their lives on the line, and, of course, their families supported them.
That same August 4th edition of the News also carried bad news. The names of Girard men killed or wounded in the invasion were still coming in. Pfc. Clyde R. Aubel, Pfc. Ken E. Whitfield and Pvt. Patsy Gallo were wounded during the Invasion of France. Cpl John Holmes was wounded in the Battle of Saipan in the Pacific, and John W. Brooks, who was reported missing in action during a bombing raid on Germany back in January, was now confirmed dead.
The August 11th edition brought more bad news: Two Girard men wounded and 2 killed, one in the Pacific and one in France. Also, one missing in an air battle over Germany.
The August 18th edition reported 5 casualties that week: Two killed, one in New Guinea, one in France. 3 wounded, two in France, one in Guam. Also announced: Cpl. William W Stewart, 22, was killed in France July 5th. He had been wounded June 8th, when he first arrived at Normandy, but continued fighting until his death one month later.
The August 25th edition of the News led with a non–war headline: “City Schools to Open September 5th” However, they also printed the total war statistics for Girard since the War
began December 8th, 1942.
They were as follows:
18 killed in action 3 killed in service
32 wounded in action
4 injured in service
2 missing in action
4 prisoners of enemy nations
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