Looking back: Local men enter armed forces

Published 10:18 am Friday, December 30, 2016

Dec. 30, 1941
Following entry of the United States into the war with Japan, a number of Southampton County men have entered the armed forces.  Some entered, through the Draft, prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Following the attack, others entered, voluntarily, and by way of the Draft.  Listed here, based on information given to The Tidewater News, are the names of those from our community who have recently become a part of the United States Armed Forces.

William B. Simmons III, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Simmons Jr. of Sebrell left on Dec. 5 for induction into the United States Army. Young Mr. Simmons was a sophomore at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He left, voluntarily, to enter the Army, initially going to a reception center at Camp Lee in Petersburg; however, just this week, he was transferred to Camp Croft in South Carolina.    

Aviation Cadet Wynans Ellis Frankfort, U.S. Army Air Corps, has been transferred to Spence Field, Moultrie, Georgia. He spent a few days here recently with his family and friends. He is a son of Harry McQuade Frankfort and Elise Ellis Frankfort. Cadet Frankfort, formerly, was stationed at Sumter, South Carolina.

Sgt. Robert B. Johnson, stationed with the coast artillery in New Caledonia, recently wrote a letter to his brother, D.E. Johnson of Courtland. “Please, for me, say hello to all the folks back home.”

Leonhardt Traylor, of the United States Navy, son of Mr. and Mrs. P.F. Traylor of Franklin, who was recently operated on for appendicitis, is in a hospital at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Traylor has the rank of First Class Fireman.    

Elmo E. Worrell, son of Mrs. K.D. Worrell of Newsoms, who was recently promoted to the rank of Sergeant, is with the U. S. Army, stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Eugene V. Moore Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. E. V. Moore of Franklin, was recently promoted from Sergeant to Staff Sergeant at Luke Field, Arizona. Moore is stationed with the U.S. Army Air Corps’ 948th Single Engine Flying Training Squadron and is in charge of mechanical work on an advanced trainer plane.

Private Robert H. Cobb, son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter H. Cobb of Sedley, who was inducted into the service, U.S. Army, last October, is now stationed at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.

Hunter Darden Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Hunter Darden of the Forks of the River, Smith Ferry Road, area near Franklin, is stationed at Camp Phillips, Kansas, in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

Private E.N. Whitfield, son of Mrs. E. Whitfield of Courtland, is stationed with the U.S. Army at Fortress Monroe, having been made Assistant Personnel Director for the Battery “G”  Headquarters Office.

Private Curry W. Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Smith of Boykins, has completed an air mechanics course at Ocean Park, California. He has been transferred to Kearns, Utah for advanced training. He was inducted into the Army Air Corps Forces last June.


On Monday night, local civil defense officials staged a blackout and citizens throughout the entire eastern Virginia region observed it. The blackout exercise is in response to the concern that enemy aircraft could target the area. Southampton County and Franklin officials, as well as officials in the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, South Norfolk, and Suffolk, and the counties of Norfolk, Princess Anne, Nansemond, Isle of Wight, simultaneously conducted exercises which were in accordance with directives issued by civil defense authorities based in Norfolk. The blackout lasted from 8:15 to 9:00 o’clock p.m. 

According to Franklin civil defense officers, the exercise was a huge success. J.B. “Cotton” Johnson, Chief for the actual blackout arrangements, stated that observers found just a few lights showing in the town. 

“When the residents were notified by police or air raid wardens of the blackout requirement, they quickly made their homes 100 percent dark,” Johnson said.

The streetlights went off simultaneously with the sounding of the air raid sirens and police cars patrolled the streets, sounding their sirens to make sure that everyone understood that the blackout was in force. 

Citizens of the town had been previously advised by a house-to-house canvass that the blackout would take place sometime Monday night between 8 and 10 o’clock p.m. by workers under the supervision of R. H. Allen, Warden Division Chief.

Members of Virginia Protective Force (VPF) Company No. 23 stood guard duty and watched all highways at the outskirts of town. Captain Franklin Edwards, VPF Commander, put the Fourth Avenue Armory Hall, where rifles and other equipment are stored, under special guard.

Scant details were available on the operation of the blackout elsewhere in the County, but Southampton County officials reported that various means of giving the alarm were used and that it was made effective everywhere except in the most rural sections where there was no means for the people to know the exact time of the blackout.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net