Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A date that will live in infamy: Dec. 7, 1941

Here's a reminder, in the hope that you-all will take a moment tomorrow to remember the 75th anniversary of the day the world turned upside down for most Americans.

The news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would have reached Lucas County first via radio; then --- on the morning of the 8th --- via The Des Moines Register, then as now our principal regional daily newspaper. That's the front page, above, most would have seen that day. 

Weekly newspapers always were at a disadvantage when news was breaking, so it must have seemed a little odd to subscribers that the front page of The Leader of Tuesday, Dec. 9, consisted of a full-page announcement that the issue was the newspaper's annual Christmas edition, featuring 16 pages of previously sold holiday advertising. There was a mix of war and local news on the front page of the second section, obviously pulled together hurriedly.

By Thursday, Dec. 11, the Chariton Newspapers staff had regrouped and was able to announce that war had been declared on Germany and Italy, too.

The Herald-Patriot's principal local story was headlined, "County Gears Itself for War." Here's the text:

Lucas county geared itself to the national defense effort this week as the country at large fortified itself for what promised to be a long war.

Ray Shepard, county sheriff, received a letter from Gov. George A. Wilson, asking him to survey and report on the defense possibilities and structure of the county. This report is at present being completed by Shepard.

Lucas County pilots were present last night at a meeting of the state private fliers association in Des Moines, where new rules and regulations pertaining to private flying were discussed with them.

Those from Chariton who attended last night's meeting were: Helena Bradford, Bassel Blakesmith, Bill Murray, Joe Leisenring, Don Davison, Lloyd Moore and Al Smith.

Before private flying may be resumed in this country, the government is requiring fingerprints.

Credentials must be presented by the aviator when he appears before the Civil Aeronautics Authority.

Officials of the county selective service board today said that there have been no changes in draft procedure. The office in the courthouse has been stormed with questions from selectees and parents, but the board has not as yet been advised to answer the questions.

At the time the Herald-Patriot went to press today, there had been no change in national selective service rulings although many had been proposed. It is believed, however, that the present age limits of from 21 to 28 will be extended.

The newspapers have found it impossible to secure addresses of all Lucas county boys serving in the armed forces. The office would appreciate any names and addresses of youths in service, especially those on duty in the Far East or in the Pacific.

The newspaper already has pictures of all youths inducted into the army under selective service regulations. However, we would appreciate any pictures of youths in the navy; who enlisted in the army the marine corps or the coast guard for our files.

Several youths in the county have indicated that they will enlist in the near future in some branch of service. Five were reported as going to Ottumwa today to enlist in the navy.

The post office reports that sales of defense bonds have increased since Monday and that a special window is being provided for their sale.

Flags were placed in front of stores on the square at the time of the declaration of war Monday and have been displayed ever since.

Citizens who remember the entry of America into the World War I mentally compared it with last Monday's events. Although the radio this time created a tenser atmosphere, people appeared to take the action of Congress with a greater calm than 24 years ago.


Elsewhere on Page 1 of The Herald-Patriot was a short story headlined "No Word Received of Derby Boy on Ship Reported Sunk" that is especially poignant in light of later events. The text reads:

"Lyle Morris, son of Mr. and Mrs. O.W. Morris of Derby, was a member of the crew on the U.S.S. Enterprise torpedoed and possibly sunk somewhere in the Pacific ocean Tuesday following an attack by Japanese forces. Morris has been in the vicinity of Hawaii since last June, and was storekeeper on the Enterprise. His parents have been unable to learn anything more than that the boat was reported to have been attacked."

As it turned out, The Enterprise had been at sea on the morning of Dec. 7, but pulled into Pearl Harbor that evening in response to the attack to load fuel and supplies. She sailed early the next morning to patrol against future attacks and sank a Japanese submarine on Dec. 10. But she was not torpedoed and Lyle was fine.

Less than a year later, however, on Oc. 26, 1942, the young man from Derby was killed at his battle station aboard the Enterprise, then under Japanese attack elsewhere in the Pacific. He was one of Lucas County's first losses in that great war.

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