Thursday, July 03, 2008

Plum Brook Ordnance Works News Comics

Sandusky’s war effort during World War II far exceeded the typical activities of Red Cross drives, victory gardens, and military recruitments. Just five miles south of the city was the Plum Brook Ordnance Works munitions factory, charged with the responsibility of manufacturing explosives trinitrotoluene (TNT), dinitrotoluene (DNT), and pentolite. The site produced more than one billion pounds of ordnance throughout World War II.

The Trojan Powder Company, the operating contractor of the factory, published a weekly newspaper for its employees. The PBOW News ran between July 1942 and August 1945, keeping readers abreast of the company’s most recent activities, like company softball and bowling stats, war progress, and production details.

But the paper’s pages provide more information than company endeavors. Attempting to keep its employees entertained, PBOW News editors filled out weekly issues with all sorts of cartoons. A look at these toons offers some insight into the attitudes and outlooks of Sandusky factory workers during wartime. The scope of these comics ranged from job safety to social commentary to mindless entertainment, all with an amusing edge. Editors arranged the cartoons alongside grim World War II news, demonstrating that a sense of levity was sometimes a necessary accompaniment to the serious nature of war.

Some of these strips come with messages to the workers. . .

Did people in the 1940s actually find these strips funny? Perhaps not. After all, how many of us split sides over Non Sequitur?

Now this one is funny, although probably not intentionally so.

After the war’s end, the facility sat idle. The U.S. Army decontaminated and decommissioned the buildings and structures associated with manufacturing the explosives. With the close of the munitions factory came an end to the company newspaper. Those interested the history of the facility can visit the Sandusky Library Archives and browse through the records. Past issues of the PBOW News comprise the bulk of the Library’s Plum Brook Ordnance Works Collection.


Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to see more of these cartoons. They give a unique perspective.

George D Morgan said...

Is there an archive with all the old newspapers?

Sandusky Library Archives Research Center said...

The newspapers are available for reading at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. We have all the volumes published during World War II. (;query=;brand=default)