Journal-News, Monday, Feb. 3,1992
Hamilton soldiers in training before Pearl Harbor attack
By Jim Blount
A Hamilton-based National Guard company — which became part of the Buckeye Division — was called into federal service more than a year before the United States entered World War II.
A 65-man unit, led by Captain Arthur D. Fille, it returned from two weeks summer training at Camp Perry in Northern Ohio in August 1939, just two weeks before the war started Sept. 1 with the German invasion of Poland.
A month later it was ordered to increase its strength to 81 men and double its weekly training at the Hamilton Armory on Dayton street at N. Fifth St.
Nearly a year later, in August 1940 — with Germany threatening to invade England — Company C's summer training was extended to three weeks. Its 85 men were among 65,000 Guardsman and regulars in maneuvers at Camp McCoy and Camp Williams in Wisconsin.
The public turnout for the company's departure Sunday night, Aug. 11, was interpreted as an indication of Hamilton's interest and patriotism during the tense summer of 1940.
Despite its scheduled 11:15 p.m. departure, hundreds of persons lined downtown streets and the station platform as the men marched a circuitous route from the armory to the Pennsylvania Railroad depot on S. Seventh Street,
The community conscience had been piqued eight days earlier when Hamilton staged a massive Preparedness Day program and parade, which had originated as a demonstration of Hamilton's support for the National Guard company.
The Aug. 2, 1940 event started when the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce encouraged local employers to pay guardsman ~ during summer training.
'In previous years," the Journal-News explained, "some of the men have not received any compensation while away for training, being forced to provide for their families with the $1 a day paid them by the government."
A few weeks later — the same day Congress approved a peacetime draft — the local unit was notified it had been mobilized. Company C members were among 8,500 Ohio Guardsman called into federal service Sept. 16, 1940, by Gen. George C. Marshall, army chief-of-staff in Washington.
Meanwhile, officers sought recruits to fill the company ranks because 18 men were ineligible because they were under 18 years old, the minimum age, another 18 failed physical examinations and others were released because 18 men were ineligible because they were under 18 years old, the minimum age; another 18 failed physical examinations; and others had dependents.
The induction process began when the men reported to the Hamilton Armory at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Eight days later, more than 700 people, including the Hamilton High School band, were at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad depot at S. Fifth and Henry streets at 6:30 a.m. for the sendoff. When the 57 soldiers and three officers left on a special train, they believed their terms would end 12 months later.
They arrived 37 hours later at Camp Shelby, Miss., about 12 miles from Hattiesburg and about 150 miles from New Orleans. There the 147th Infantry became part of the 9,100-man 37th Infantry Division, better known as the Buckeye Division.
They were housed in tents until December, when the company moved to newly-built barracks. The new quarters were 15 feet square with a wood floor and 6.5-foot wood walls, topped by screening and a pyramid tent as a roof.
Company C increased to more than 100 men in February 1941 with the additional 32 recruits from Hamilton draft boards.
As international tensions increased, the local guard unit participated in two months of maneuvers in Louisiana.
A year after their induction members of Company C remained at Camp Shelby as their one-year terms were extended.
The guardsman were anticipating Christmas furloughs in Hamilton when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Their leaves were canceled and then restored and shortened.
At the same time, they were ordered to wear uniforms at all times and to ship civilian clothes and other non-essentials home because they would be "on the alert" and subject to assignment.
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Journal-News. Monday, Feb. 10, 1992
Patriotic response followed draft in 1941
By Jim Blount
Three Hamilton draft boards added 5,390 men to their rolls during a nationwide registration weekend in mid-February 1942, about 10 weeks after the United States entered the World War II.
Males between the ages of 20 and 44, who had not previously registered, were ordered to report at 12 locations around Hamilton from noon-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15-16.
The first draftees had departed 13 months before Pearl Harbor, and by the Dec. 7, 1941, attack, more than 600 men from the Hamilton and Oxford areas had been inducted into the army.
Congress had approved the nation's first peace-time draft Sept. 16, 1940, as a German invasion of England seemed imminent.
Local draft boards said one out of 16 registrants in Butler County could expect to be in training by July 1, 1941, when Ohio was to provide 52,497 inductees.
The county had five draft boards, each with nine members who were selected Oct. 3, 1940, by a three-man committee appointed by Gov. John W. Bricker. The committee included P.P. Boli and Gideon Palmer, both county judges, and George Denny, a Middletown lumber dealer.
Registration was delegated to the board of elections, headed by Fred Stitsinger. Election employees worked without pay for 14 hours Wednesday, Oct. 16, processing men between the ages of 21 and 35 at 191 neighborhood polling places.
The 15,265 registrants included 6,273 in Hamilton 4,329 in Middletown, 4,663 in the remainder of the county and 521 Miami University students. Each registrant was assigned a serial number by local draft boards. A lottery was held Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Washington to determine the order in which men would be called.
Three men from each of the five county boards were called in the first group. Volunteers filled the first quota for the three Hamilton-based boards.
About 400 people participated in a brief parade and send-off ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 20, as the nine departed for the Fort Thomas, Ky., induction center. Two replacements had to be sent when three of the original group failed physical exams.
Three Hamilton boards sent 96 men in a second draft call in January 1941.
Butler County's first black inductees were among the 35 taken in a third draft call in February 1941. Because the services were segregated, draft quotas specified the number of whites and blacks from each board.
Monday, Feb. 17, 1941, when the first black inductees left Hamilton, 12 of the 14 were volunteers.
By the end of June 1941, only 28 blacks had been inducted by the three Hamilton boards while white inductees totaled 384.
By June 30, 1941, Butler County had sent 1,320 men for physical examinations and 62 percent had been declared unfit, much higher than the state failure rate of 42 percent.
The draft entered a second round July 1, 1941, when a second mass registration enrolled 415 Butler County men who had turned 21 since Oct. 16, 1940. A second draft lottery — including the new registrants — was held July 17 in Washington.
After Pearl Harbor, as draft quotas increased, local boards were ordered to limit the information they released, but some data was still shared.
For example, 12,541 Butler County men, including 5,595 in Hamilton, registered April 25-27, 1&42, when older men (45-65) were required to be recorded by draft boards.
The record call of 156 by the three Hamilton boards was announced in May 1943 when the first married men were inducted.
In June 1943 exercises, 11 Hamilton High School graduates were awarded diplomas in absentia because they were already in the armed services.
By the war's end, 15,267 Butler County men had been drafted into the armed services. Hamilton's 8,161 draftees represented about one of every four males in the city.
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Journal-News, Monday, Feb. 17, 1992
Civilian Defense volunteers respond to raid threat
By Jim Blount
The threat of German or Japanese planes bombing Hamilton 50 years ago led to the formation of a complex civilian defense program enlisting more than 3,300 people in the city. It required at least seven hectic months in 1942 to recruit and train enough volunteers and prepare Hamilton for its first World War II defense tests.
Besides the 3,300 in Hamilton, additional thousands would be required for similar civilian defense assignments in Middletown, Oxford and the remainder of Butler County.
The Hamilton Civilian Defense Council started planning for the possibility of air attacks or sabotage months before bombs fell on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Within a week of the Japanese attack, Hamilton police and fire personnel were involved in defense training and planning.
This included an FBI-directed course in Cincinnati, based on reports by agents who had spent a year in England gathering information on air raids, spying, saboteurs and other threats to civilian safety and war-related industries.
Efforts to recruit local civil defense volunteers began Monday, Dec. 29, 1941, with the opening of a downtown Hamilton office from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. C. L. Hardin, secretary-manager of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, had been named chairman of volunteer activities by City Manager Russell P. Price.
By late January, 75 Hamiltonians were attending classes to be certified as civilian defense instructors, but enlistment of at least 3,355 volunteers was slow.
One month after Pearl Harbor — only 301 persons had volunteered to fill a variety of Hamilton posts, which included 440 air raid wardens, 550 fire watchers, 220 auxiliary police, 220 auxiliary firefighters, 330 nurses aides, 165 in the medical corps and 110 on rescue squads.
In February 1942 plans were revealed for Hamilton's air raid system. The city was divided into five zones including 14 sections divided further into 78 sections of approximately 500 people each.
Superintendent C. W. White announced the start of air raid drills in Hamilton public schools.
Sgt. H. M. Haines of the Hamilton police department reported the start of classes to train air raid wardens, fire watchers and other civilian personnel. Meanwhile, many Hamilton women began Red Cross nurse aid and home nursing classes.
The campaign intensified after a Monday, Feb. 23, fireside chat by President Franklin D, Roosevelt. During his radio pep talk — which emphasized civilian defense — a Japanese submarine fired shells into an oil field north of Santa Barbara, Calif.
By late March, more than 4,500 Hamiltonians had volunteered for service, and in April more than 500 adults enrolled in home protection classes — described as "the basic civilian defense course" — meeting once a week for 10 weeks.
Hamilton's chief air raid warden Joseph R. Cook, a World War I air corps veteran who was then an executive with the Hamilton Autographic Register Co., was appointed April 15.
The Hamilton Merchants Association joined the effort in April by forming defense teams in stores. These people were trained to direct blackouts, respond to air-raid warnings and guide evacuation if the store would be hit or damaged during a raid.
A full-time commander of the Hamilton Civilian Defense Council was named in June 1942. Alexander Thomson Jr. was granted leave from the Champion Paper and Fibre Co., where he was vice president and advertising manager.
City crews tested Hamilton's first air-raid siren, located near North E St. and Rhea Avenue, in July. A total of 14 sirens were ordered for the city.
Plans were completed for a defense control center at the Hamilton Municipal Building. Thirty-three people were needed to man the nerve center. Locations of 25 casualty and first-aid centers were announced also.
By the end of July 1942 — almost eight months after Pearl Harbor — Hamilton appeared ready for the first tests of its civilian defense system and public response to its drills.
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Journal-News, Monday, Feb. 24, 1992
Police two-way radio system started in 1935
By Jim Blount
Nov. 27, 1935, the Hamilton Police Department started using what was described as "the most modern method of pursuing criminals and an ultra-modern system of crime detection and prevention."
Two-way radio transmissions began that morning, giving Hamilton "the first system of its kind in the state of Ohio," according to a city publication.
Chief John C. Calhoun had recommended the two-way broadcast system in his annual 'report for 1934. During that year the department recorded 2,120 arrests and investigated 345 traffic accidents in Hamilton, which at the time had a population of 52,000 people.
March 20, 1935, Hamilton City Council authorized $33,000 in bonds, including an estimated $16,700 for funding the radio network, and five new cruisers (1935 four-door Ford touring cars).
City Manager Russell P. Price said the system would make it possible for a police car to respond to a call anywhere in the city within two minutes of a directive from headquarters.
"Patrolling of residential districts on foot here will soon be a thing of the past," said Chief Calhoun. He said foot patrols would continue day and night in business sections, where the patrol call box system also would be retained.
The city received bids in May and awarded the contract to General Electric. By September, the system was being installed in the new municipal building and police were being trained to operate the system and qualify for federal licensing.
After testing began Sunday, Nov. 17, station M8XF officially went on the air Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Also part of the system was installation of the first telephone switchboard in the police department. The first officer to use it Sunday, Nov. 24, was John S. Niedermann, a 25-year veteran of the force.
The two-way radio system was placed in service at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27. At the microphone at police headquarters was Ed J. Riley, a former detective, who broadcast a test to a car manned by Patrolmen James O'Connor and Fred Timmer.
Patrolmen in other two-man radio cars that morning were Clarence Holden, Levi Justice, Allan Lindsay, Henry Hart, William Blair and Urban Leugers.
Other radio operators were W. E. Welch, former desk sergeant, and William McNally, a recent addition to the force.
The first official call was a 11:20 a.m. when information was broadcast regarding an apparent stolen car. Fifteen minutes later the vehicle was spotted by officers in one of the new patrol cars.
New police procedures effective that day, divided the city into four patrol districts. A newspaper report said patrolmen were to drive the new radio cars on patrol at between 15-20 miles an hour, except when responding to an emergency.
A month later, Chief Calhoun reported the five radio cars were averaging 82 miles for each eight-hour shift and had increased police efficiency.
In a test of emergency response time, all four cars from all sections of the city arrived at the scene in from 2-4 minutes. Calhoun said "service has been speeded up more than 100 percent, and trouble is located with 500 percent greater speed."
"The equipment at police headquarters consists of a 150-watt ultra-high-frequency transmitter, and a talk-back receiver," explained a souvenir booklet published at the dedication of the municipal building in November 1935.
"These units, located in the dispatcher's room on the first floor, are connected by concentric-tube transmission lines to two vertical antennas mounted on a crossarm at the top of a 75-foot self-supporting steel tower."
According to the booklet, "the tower is on the municipal building roof, making the total height of the antennas approximately 150 feet."
In December 1936 the radio system was hailed when police recovered a stolen car and arrested the culprit within 90 seconds of receiving the report from a Vine Street man.
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