Did You Know? World War II


By Audrey Schiesser | Local Happenings

Stories Inspired From "The Story of Portsmouth" by Elmer Sword

In our tenth edition of “Did You Know?” with local tales from our county’s history, we are taking a look at the “World War II Period”.

The morning of September 30, 1938, the Portsmouth Times read, “NAZI’S TO ENTER SEDETEN AREA TONIGHT IN PEACE”. On October 1, Nazi troops had marched across the Czech border as Adolf Hitler sent his first “goosestepping” soldiers into Czechoslovakia that was given to him by France, Britain, and Italy to keep peace.

Almost a year later on September 1, 1939 that World War II began. Despite President Roosevelt’s declaration of remaining neutral, it became quite evident that that would no longer be a possibility.

That following month, the first round of the draft had begun.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was suddenly in the war.

In Portsmouth that evening, the police department received a Navy department request to notify all sailors on leave to report immediately back to their base. Bus and railroad officials were kept very busy arranging transportation as the sailors hurried back.

That very next day, the Army and Navy recruiters were two of the most popular men in town. Young men left and right were coming to sign up.

United States Enters War

That following day, December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. On December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

By December 19, Congress extended the draft to men between the ages of 20 and 40.

The Rationing Begins

Three days after the war began, all civilian sales of tires and tubes were stopped. Shortly after that, the production of civilian tires was also halted and local ration boards were set up under the Office of Price Administration (OPA).

By January 5, 1942, this board began issuing cards which entitled the holder to purchase a tire from the supply which was already on hand when production stopped.

These cards were issued only to qualified people, such as: physicians, police, fire department, ministers, farm tractors, etc.

Other Rationing

During the remaining year in 1942, many other items became under ration. These items included typewriters, sugar, bicycles, gasoline, farm machinery, rubber boots, etc.

In 1943 the rationing extended even further. This need was due to the “panic buying: of the population.

Germany Surrenders

Once the news reached Portsmouth, the city had planned on a celebration. At 7am on Monday, May 7, there was a wreath laying service on Gallia street esplanade in the memory of those who gave their lives for our country.

Following these services, three bands directed by Ray Adams, and a color guard marched in a small parade.

John Smith, the chief of detectives and acting Chief of Police, asked that all liquor licenses be inactive for 24 hours.


Even though World War II is fading in many memories, we can take great pride in knowing that our local community helped in the efforts to win the war and bring our men and women home. Tune in with us next week as we take a look at “The Atomic Boom”.


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