Looking Back: Franklin, Southampton feel effects of war

Published 5:09 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2020

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March 1945

World War II is raging on. On the home-front, various activities in support of the war effort are on-going. In particular, the 1945 War Fund Drive for the American Red Cross is going on throughout the United States for the entire month of March, and the greater exigencies of war, with which there enters in the serious flood conditions on the Ohio River, make it imperative that all good citizens do more than ever to meet the quotas assigned us in this county and town. It would not be a bad idea if you have been giving $1.00 before to give at least $2.00 now, and if you have considered yourself in the $5.00 class, please raise it to a “tenner” — you will feel better in your heart and soul way down to the ends of your fingers and toes — and you will never miss the money.

James L. Camp Jr., by the way — a veteran of World War I, is Chairman for the Franklin District of Southampton County, with James T. Gillette, Chairman for the rest of the County. The Franklin District has a quota of $5,500 and the rest of the county has a quota of $14,300.

If you do not realize the more widely extended needs of the Red Cross you simply have not thought out the situation as it really exists. So just thank God very gratefully for your own fortunate condition and give as liberally as possible. Give for those that have experienced the misfortunes of war, or flood, or pestilences. Some people have been reduced to stark absolute poverty and have pressing and immediate needs for the simple essentials of life — food and clothing and warmth.

The workers for the Franklin District with Mr. Camp, all of whom are experienced and loyal solicitors, are Mrs. F.F. Jenkins, for the schools; S.W. Rawls Sr., for the business district; Miss Dollie Williams, for the residential sections of the town and Franklin District; R.E.L. Wheless, for Chesapeake-Camp Corporation; L. Britt Holland, for Camp Manufacturing Company; L.A. McLear, for the Taggart Paper Bag Corporation; W.R. Thomas, for the Colored community; Wesley H. Beale, for Franklin Peanut Company; and R.A. Pretlow Jr., for the Pretlow Peanut Company.

Sadly, we here at The Tidewater News have been notified of the death of Corporal Glenn Bridges, 28-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Bridges of Franklin. He was killed in action in Germany on Feb. 21, 1945. Glenn was a Technician Fifth Grade with Anti-Tank Company, 115th Infantry of the 29th Infantry Division and had been overseas since October 1942. He entered the Army in April 1941 and received his basic training at Fort Meade, Maryland and also six weeks of training at Camp Blanding, Florida.

Corporal Bridges participated in the invasion of France, landing on the famed “Omaha Beach” on D-Day and also in the battles of Isigny, Vire River, St. Lo, Brest, Li`ege, and Aachen. He was killed somewhere on the Roer River. He wore the Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and Sharpshooter’s Medal.

Bridges was a native of Georgia, coming to Southampton County in 1931, and attended high school at Newsoms. He was married in May of 1942 to Miss Virginia Whitfield, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S.E. Whitfield of Handsom. Besides his wife and parents, Bridges is survived by two brothers, Hubert and Gordon Bridges of Franklin.

And, we have been notified that Private First-Class Lane Close, 19-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Kenneth Close of Sedley, died Feb. 27 in Germany of wounds received the previous day. He was with Company “A,” 134th Infantry serving under General Patton’s Third U. S. Army. He had been overseas since November of 1944 and in active combat since the first of December.

In addition to his father and mother, he is survived by five brothers and three sisters. He was a nephew of George J. Lane of Franklin with whom he made his home while attending Franklin High School. While there, he was active in school athletics, graduating in the class of 1943.

Major John E. (Jack) Ray is home on leave. He reached Franklin last Saturday after spending a little more than a year in the European War Theater with the 9th Air Force in which he had flown 98 missions. He has had his share of close calls.

Major Ray took an active part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and his group moved to Normandy in July 1944, supporting the break-through at Saint Lo. Moving first from Normandy to a field near Paris, he went next to Rheims and then to Belgium. He was promoted to a captaincy in the Summer of 1944 and became a Major Jan. 1, 1945.

Earlier this year, Major Ray survived a crash landing of his aircraft in Germany.

He is spending some leave-time here with his wife and their little daughter, Margaret, and with his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Burton J. Ray.

He will report back for duty at Miami, Florida, April 17. Major Ray won his wings at Kelly Field, Texas, in August 1942, spending some time in training at Army airfields at Savannah, Tampa, Orlando, and Myrtle Beach going from the last-named field overseas with the rank of 1st Lieutenant in March 1944.

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.