Thursday, December 15, 2011

World War II Civilian Defense

In 1982, a scrapbook was donated to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center which features newspaper clippings about Civilian Defense activities in Sandusky between 1941 and 1943, during World War Two. The Civilian Defense Council in Sandusky was established by a city ordinance on December 15, 1941, following the Office of Civilian Defense having been created as a national agency on May 20, 1941. Leland Spore was coordinator of the Sandusky Civilian Defense in the early stages of the organization. When Mr. Spore left for active service duty Vincent F. Schubert took over. Earl C. Krueger served as the third coordinator of the Sandusky Civilian Defense Council.

The entire community joined in the activities of Civil Defense. In December of 1941, Dr. A. R Grierson, chief of the Medical Services Division, began voluntary enlistment for local men and women for the National Red Cross Volunteer Nurse’s Aide Course. Instruction was given so that volunteers had practical experience in hospital wards, kitchen, laboratory, x-ray, and surgery, should a major medical emergency arise. Dr. Grierson emphasized that the program was “no place for weaklings.” Local educator W.E. Weagly stated that “In the time of peace we go our separate ways. In time of war, we act together.” Members of the Erie County Ministerial Association voted unanimously that all members would lend their wholehearted to the Sandusky Civilian Defense Council in connection with work in public relations and civilian morale. In 1942 Fire Chief Wilson McLaughlin and Police Chief R.G. Bravard saw to it that area residents were trained as auxiliary firemen and policemen in case of an emergency. A Civilian Defense WWII Auxiliary Police helmet is now in the collections of the Follett House Museum.

A group of firemen and auxiliary firemen who were trained by the Sandusky Civilian Defense Council during World War Two are pictured below.

The “Salvage for Victory” campaign sponsored by the Sandusky Municipal Defense Council, asked Sandusky residents to save waste paper, rags, rubber and scrap metal. Items were collected by the Volunteers of America and then sold, with all proceeds paid to the Sandusky Municipal Defense Fund. In the fall of 1942 the Lions Club and Commodore Perry Post of the American Legion donated automobiles for the Sandusky Scrap Harvest campaign. Tire and specific food items and other goods were rationed.

The Sandusky Register Star News ran a full page advertisement on What to do in an Air Raid.

Civilian Defense movies were shown at the auditorium of Jackson Junior High School. A Civilian Defense and Flag Day Parade was held on Flag Day in June, 1942. Marching in the parade were members of the State Highway Patrol, Navy Mothers, VFW drum corps, Sandusky High School band, policemen, policemen, fireman, horsemen, ambulances, air wardens, and Civil Defense officials. Representing the War Plant division were Farrell Check, Brightman Nut, Plum Brooks Ordnance Works, and the Civil Air Patrol. The local U.S.O. provided hospitality for servicemen. On December 15, 1942, the Office of Civil Defense conducted a “dim-out” in Sandusky. Residents were asked to turn out all lights in their home. Automobiles were asked to place their headlights on dim, and travel at 15 miles per hour. They were not to use their telephone unless absolutely necessary. Once the “all clear” signal was blasted, lights could be used again. On March 2, 1943, a blackout drill was conducted simultaneously by 29 northern Ohio counties.

To view the World War Two Civilian Defense Scrapbook, inquire at the Reference Services Desk of the Sandusky Library. A concise summary of Civilian Defense activities in Sandusky appears in the Monday, May 7, 1945 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News, in the Victory in Europe edition, available on microfilm.