Tag Archives: World War II

Relic Recall: Aircraft Warning Service

4 Nov
What is it: Aircraft Warning Service armband, lapel pin, and identification, from World War II. Donated to the Goochland County Historical Society in 1991.

In today’s world, we take for granted an Air Traffic Control System that monitors all aspects of the thousands of flights that are in the air above us at any given time. What most of us do not realize is that, prior to World War II, there was little in place to handle this. Radar was a new technology and its use was almost non-existent. Pilots were on their own to get from one place to another and no one was there to monitor where the planes were or where they were going. An air attack along the coasts from the sea, similar to Pearl Harbor, would have never been detected.

The Army Air Corps, recognizing the need for an air defense system, established the Ground Observer Corps in the months leading up to the start of the war. They used airmen to man a limited number of observation posts in critical areas. Pearl Harbor changed all of that. It became necessary to greatly expand the air defense system but, at the same time, all able bodied airmen were needed in job more important than sitting in an observation post.

The Aircraft Warning Service (AWS) was created using an all civilian volunteer force to man over 14,000 observation posts were right here in Goochland County.

One such volunteer was Dorothy Rebecca Henley. The Henley family farm, located next to Luck Stone in Manakin was one of the observation posts. Dorothy Henley, a life-long Goochland resident, was born in 1903 and died in 2002 at the age of 99. She was 38 when se became a volunteer in the AWS. Volunteers had to go through extensive training to be able to identify any and all aircraft, both domestic and foreign. Along with Dorothy Henley’s AWS identification items, the donated items also include the training booklet, a set of aircraft identification flash cards, and a special dial device that could quickly identify any aircraft.

Margaret Walker was Dorothy Henley’s niece. She still lives in Manakin and, like her aunt, was also a volunteer in the AWS as a teen. She remembers going to her grandparent’s farm to man her scheduled post duties. The bluff behind the house overlooked the James River valley and provided a perfect spot to watch a large area of the sky. While it would seem that, in 1941, one would not see many planes in the skies over Goochland, Mrs. Walker says that was not the case. The Army Air Corps base was located at Byrd Field and training flights would fly up the river and use the islands located in the James in Goochland as targets for simulated bombing runs and attack missions. Upon spotting a plane, the observer would have to log information noting the time, identifying the type of plane, the direction it was seen, and the direction it was traveling. This was then called in by code to a special phone number in Richmond and then in turn was sent to a logistics center down in Hampton Roads, all manned by civilian volunteers. The information, usually coming from multiple observations, was triangulated and kept updated on a large map in the center. This process kept the observers on their toes and provided a built-in testing of each observer’s accuracy and effectiveness. Awards were given for those who received the highest ratings.

With the advent of radar installations along the coasts and the turn of the war to being more offensive instead of defensive, the volunteer system was deemed unnecessary and deactivated in May 1944.

Relic Recall is contributed by Phil Harris of the Goochland County Historical Society.

World War II Soldiers Remembered: Elam Turner Salmon

26 Nov

Elam Salmon

July 1, 1917 – December 2, 2004

Elam Turner Salmon was born July 1, 1917 in Goochland. He was 23 years old when he registered in May of 1943. According to his Registration Card, we know he was 6 feet tall, and had blue eyes and brown hair and was living in Richmond, Virginia. He worked for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc. (DuPont)

Toyko, Japan.  Elam Salmon

He was with the 8th Calvary Regiment serving in the South Seas. After the fall of Japan, the 8th Cavalry occupied the 3rd Imperial Guard Regiment Barracks in Tokyo.

 

World War II Soldiers Remembered: Matt Archer Allen

11 Sep

matt allen post

May 7, 1924–November 25, 1944

Matt Archer Allen was born May 7, 1924 in Cardwell, Virginia. He was 18-years-old when he registered in June of 1942. According to his Registration Card, we know he was 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and had black eyes and black hair. He listed C.C. Cochrane of Rockville as his employer.

He was serving aboard the USS Essex (CV 9) on November 25, 1944 when the vessel was hit by a Japanese kamikaze. The strike was on the port edge of the aircraft carrier’s flight deck and landed among the planes gassed for takeoff, causing extensive damage. The ship survived the hit, but Allen was one of 15 killed in the attack. His name is among those listed at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.

World War II Soldiers Remembered: Richard Snellings Cridlin

15 Aug

Richard Snelling Cridlin post

October 26, 1915–December 25, 1998

Richard Snellings Cridlin was born October 26, 1915 in Henrico, Virginia. He was 24-years-old when he registered in October of 1940. According to his Registration Card, we know he was married to Lucille Layne Cridlin, was 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and had brown eyes and brown hair. He listed Sylvania Industrial Corporation as his employer. His home was his wife’s family farm near Crozier, Va.

Richard Cridlin 5 bw

Taken in Paris, 1944

Upon completion of basic training, he was sent to Europe, where he took part in D-Day and the Liberation of Paris. He was then sent to the Pacific theater where he participated in the Battle of Okinawa, the last major battle of World War II. After the war, he returned to Crozier where he spent the remainder of his life.

World War II Soldiers Remembered: Clyde Bigerton Southworth

1 Aug

Bick Southworth online

November 30, 1910–September 28, 1979

Clyde Bigerton Southworth was born November 30, 1910, in Goochland County, Virginia, to Thomas Mayo and Virgillia Clyde Pace Southworth. According to his Enlistment record, he was 6 feet tall and weighed 132 pounds. He was single at the time.

He enlisted on July 11, 1942. He had the places he was stationed engraved on his canteen including; Honolulu, Hawaii, Canton, Christmas Islands, Gilbert Islands, Saipan, Marshall Islands, and Okinawa. He brought home many photographs of his time in the Philippines. He was released on November 11, 1945.

When he returned home, he married Anne Pollard of Amelia County, on January 5, 1946

World War II Soldiers Remembered: James Harold Bowles

12 Jul

Photo 3

June 12, 1921–January 17, 2019

James Harold Bowles graduated from Central High School in 1940 and attended Virginia Union University from 1940 to 1942. Bowles was 20-years-old and a student at VUU when he filled out his registration card in 1942. Soon after that he began work as a civil service employee in Pennsylvania and Hawaii from 1942 to 1944. While in Hawaii, he joined the United States Army and served two years. He resumed his studies and graduated from VUU in 1948 and from Meharry Medical School in 1952. After his internship, he returned home to Goochland County and opened his medical practice.

World War II Soldiers Remembered: Henry Powers Shelton

5 Jul

Shelton 2 post

November 5, 1910–November 12, 1983

Henry Powers Shelton was born November 5, 1910 in Goochland, Virginia. He was 29-years-old when he registered in October of 1940. According to his Registration Card, we know he was 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and had gray eyes and brown hair. He listed the Bank of Goochland as his employer.

World War II Soldiers Remembered: Edward Holman Parrish, Jr.

28 Jun

Edward H Parrish post

May 19, 1925–January 29, 2008

Edward “Eddie” Holman Parrish, Jr. was born May 19, 1925 in Goochland, Virginia. He was 18-years-old when he registered in May of 1943. According to his Registration Card, we know he was married, 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and had blue eyes, brown hair and was living in Columbia, Virginia. He worked on his father’s farm when not in school.

Edward H Parrish 2 post

World War II Soldiers Remembered: William Edward Fleming

19 Jun

William E Fleming post

December 8, 1918–September 2, 2001

William Edward Fleming was born December 8, 1918 in Goochland, Virginia. He was 21-years-old when he registered for service in 1940. According to his registration card, he was the son of Lester Edward and Emma (Taylor) Fleming. He was 6 feet, 1 inch tall and had brown eyes and black hair. Fleming listed Westbrook Sanatorium as his employer. He married Josephine Elizabeth Robinson in 1943.

World War II Soldiers Remembered: Charles Massie Johnson

19 Jun

CharlesMJohnson post

March 17, 1916–July 31, 1986

Charles Massie Johnson was born March 17, 1916 in Goochland, Virginia. He was 24-years-old when he registered in October of 1940. According to his Registration Card, we know he was 5 feet, 11 inches tall, and had brown eyes and black hair. He listed his employer as the State Farm (James River Correctional Center) in Crozier. On March 3, 1945, he married Irene Davis Lacy in Richmond, Virginia.