MEHPL -- On the Homefront
On The Homefront contains information that illustrates different aspects of life on the homefront during various U.S. military conflicts.
Homefront during World War II
More than any war before or since, the federal government was active in numerous ways, both military and civilian, at the regional level and in local communities. This section will explore the various ways Nederland mobilized to support the war effort. Topics will include a variety of WWII activities such as: rationing, scrap metal drives, war bonds, Civilian Defense, blackout tests, Victory gardens, USO, Red Cross, etc.
The first topic we've added concerns the Buy A Bomber Campaign. To see information about this topic, click on the tab at the right.
As we collect information, we plan to add Home Front activities and issues that correspond with WWI, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.
During World War II, multiple nationwide drives were conducted to sell war bonds. War bonds were one way the average American could invest in the war effort and see that investment increase over time. For instance, a bond could be purchased for $18.75. After ten years the bond would mature, at which time the United States government paid the bondholder $25.
The government also promoted special bond campaigns that encouraged members of an organization or community to pool their bond purchases and leverage them into a major purchase to support the war effort. Program were aimed at purchasing guns, ships and other critical resources. Local newspapers showed that residents of Nederland participated in a "Buy-a-Bomber" compaign. Letters are posted elsewhere on this page.
During our reasearch on the campaign, we contacted several resources to see if there was any information on the B-17, City of Nederland. Tab Lewis a researcer at the Textual Reference Archives II Branch, National Archives and Records Administration responded to the query. He stated there were "several series relating to various war loan and bond programs during and after World War II. A series of records entitled "Historical and Promotional Records, 1941-1960" include files from state drives to "Buy a Bomber" for the war. ... several documents that mention Nederland in the file entitled "Texas-Sponsored War Equipment." He provided scans of the documents, which are included elsewhere on this page.
To summarize the letters:
Sometime before June 18, 1942, A. E. Waver, Chairman of the Jefferson County War Bond Committee, sent a letter to Frank Scofield, State Administrator , War Savings Staff, stating that the City of Nederland had sold enough War Savings Bonds to purchase a bomber. That correspondence was documented in a letter date dated June 18, 1942 from Frank Scofield to R. W. Sparks, War Savings Staff in Washington D.C. On July 8, 1942, Robert Harper, Chief, Special Events sent letter to Messrs. Scofield and Weaver stating that a bomber named "City of Nederland, Texas" would be christened in the next few days. A letter was also sent to Captain Stanford Chester of the Army Air Forces Public Relations Division requesting that he arrange for pictures be tane of the "Christening" and at least one be sent to Mr. Scofield. The Final letter dated September 16, 1942 indicated that Mr. Harper had sent the requested photographs to Mr. Scofield.
If you notice, the word "Christening" is in quotations. In Kansas City B-25 Factory page 8, the authors state:
“Another tools was for communities and other groups to raise funds to ‘buy a bomber.’ … At the start of the program, airplanes were adorned with the name of the contributing group painted onto the nose. The exigencies of war caused deception to creep into the program. At North American of Kansas, the ruse was carried out in the photographic. A master photograph of a B-25 was prepared. Often, there was no serial number or other identifying marks. A calligrapher then inked the name of the contributing group onto paper. The image was photographed so the group name was then overlaid onto the generic negative. The resulting 8-by-10 inch photograph implied that there was an actual B-25 with white paint decorating the nose in celebration of the monetary contribution. Every group received a photograph of one of a few airplanes, and nobody at the factory bothered to dab a brush into a can of paint. Many people have attempted to research the combat fate of “their” bomber, only to be frustrated when told that no such airplane ever existed."
Source: Frederickson, John and John Roper. "Kansas City B-25 Factory." Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2014.
Take a look at the photograph of Nederland's B-17 bomber. Notice the area around the name that looks scrubbed out? Perhaps that area was caused the result of the ruse described above and is the reason for the word "Christening" to be place in quotation marks in the letter.
Photograph courtesy of the Nederland Historical Society
In 1943, Townsend Dairy sponsored an add for the campaign. The ad appeared in the Port Arthur News on August 17th.
Information on the "Buy a Bomber" campaign was printed in the AAF: The Official Guide to the Army Air Forces A Directory, Almanac and Chronicle of Achievement, on pages 128 and 129.