Looking back: Southampton VPF praised

Published 12:24 pm Friday, May 11, 2018

by Clyde Parker

May 11, 1943

Company No. 23, the Southampton County Unit of the Virginia Protective Force (VPF,) came in for high praise by Major Theodore Sinclair of the organization’s First Division, Third Service Command, with headquarters in Richmond. Major Sinclair reviewed the company in extensive drill maneuvers on the Franklin High School athletic field here Wednesday night. Major Sinclair, during remarks to the Company and to the spectators in the grandstand, stated, “I consider Company No. 23 to be one of the best trained and most efficient units that I have inspected.”

General E.E. Goodwyn, of Emporia, Commanding Officer of the VPF, added his compliments.

“I rate the Southampton Company the best in the State. I know of only one other company that, during the current cycle, has 100 percent attendance at inspections. The Southampton Company consists of 64 enlisted men and 3 officers.”

Captain Franklin Edwards of Franklin is the Commanding Officer for Company No. 23. 1st Lt. Jesse L. Sinclair Jr. and 2nd Lt. D.C. Gillette Jr., both of Franklin, complete the officer complement.

The inspection Wednesday night covered company and platoon close order drill, manual of arms, interior guard duty, riot control formation, gas mask instruction, machine gun instruction, first aid demonstration, judo or personal defense without arms, and instruction of recruits.

A blackout test at 8:45 o’clock partially delayed the inspection but some of the events were carried out by the light of the full moon.

During April, Company No. 23 had an average attendance of 65.5 men out of a membership of 64 enlisted men and 3 officers, giving it one of the highest ranks for attendance in the State.

The Company will receive its new khaki summer uniforms at the drill period next Monday night.

Colonel Chester B. Koontz, Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion at Newport News, will be in Franklin for drill inspection on Monday, May 31.

The Southampton Company is subject to be called into active service with the U.S. Army. The World War is in progress.

Men in the service

Captain William V. Rawlings, son of Mrs. E.E. Rawlings of Capron, recently returned to his station at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, after completing a course in the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. A 1935 graduate of V.M.I., Captain Rawlings is the brother of Mrs. Darden W. Jones of Franklin.

Lt. Elliott K. Whitfield, son of Mr. and Mrs. C.F. Whitfield of Franklin, recently received his bombardier wings during a ceremony at the Army Air Forces Bombardier School at a new airfield located in Childress, Texas. He was a member of the first class to be graduated from that school. Childress Field is a part of the West Texas Bombardier Quadrangle which also includes airfields at Midland, Big Spring, and San Angelo. Lt. Whitfield has been assigned to duty as an instructor at Childress. His address is P. O. Box 419, A.A.F.B.S., Childress, Texas.

Dr. Fletcher L. Raiford, son of Dr. and Mrs. R.L. Raiford of Franklin, has been promoted to the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. Captain Raiford is assigned to the 13th Medical Training Battalion at Camp Pickett, Blackstone, Virginia, where he serves as a technical instructor.

Private Robert C. Howell, U.S. Army, is now stationed at North Camp Hood, Texas. Private W.H. Howell Jr., U.S. Army, is stationed at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. Both are sons of Mr. and Mrs. W. Herman Howell of Franklin.

Private Hudson H. Lankford, son of Mr. and Mrs. David Lankford of the Franklin community, has written his parents that he arrived safely in North Africa the latter part of April and is well and happy.  Private Lankford has been in the U. S. Army for five months, but has not been home since his induction.

Seaman Mason Bradshaw, son of Mrs. J. J. Bradshaw of Franklin, recently completed his basic training at Bainbridge, Maryland. He is now attending the U.S. Navy Training School in Norfolk.

Rules set for USO Club

At a meeting this week of the Entertainment and Operating Committee of the Franklin Service Men’s Club (USO), several important decisions were reached with regard to the operation of the center. The committee is composed of Mrs. Sol Rawls Sr., Chairman; Rev. Harry W. Backhus, 3rd; Hal J. Lyon; Town Manager T.J. Crooks; Mrs. Beaman Story; and Mrs. Robert Vaughan.

It was decided by the committee that young ladies will not be admitted to the center unless they have been invited by the hostess in charge, Mrs. Robert Vaughan; and, after being invited, they will be admitted only by presenting a card or invitation sent to them by the hostess or her committee.

Further, it was decided that the hostess, in cooperation with Mrs. Sol Rawls and Mrs. Beaman Story, shall formulate a card index of the names of young ladies in Franklin; and, select from this index those who are available as junior hostesses, dancing partners, or bridge partners. The name of a girl would not be placed in the index file, and would not be invited, unless the hostess secures the written consent of her parents.

The Franklin Service Men’s Club is located in a section of the Fourth Avenue Armory Hall. Naval personnel stationed at the Franklin Naval Air Base are making use of the club.

The committee just extended a formal invitation to the U.S. Navy to bring USO shows to Franklin. Hal Lyon, owner of both “Lyon’s State Theater” and “Franklin Theater,” has offered the latter facility, located on Fourth Avenue, as a place for USO shows.

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