Seeing the End of Two World Wars from Southampton

By Hazel Vincent

(From Hampshire Life June 28, 1985)

At eleven o’clock on the morning of Nov. 11, 1918, World War 1 came to an end. That, President Woodrow Wilson announced, was the war to end all wars, to make the world safe for democracy. The media’s recent extensive coverage of the 40th anniversary of V-E Day brought to my mind an earlier celebration of victory, when the guns of Europe were silenced nearly 67 years ago.

I was lately out of high school and was a secretary at the West Boylston Company office in Easthampton when the news came that Kaiser William II, Emperor of Germany, and all his armies had been overcome

Immediately the big bosses, John Skinner, G. Arthur Cook and George L. Harris, organized a parade. In their big cars, Hudson, Pierce Arrow, Packard, they took us girls – three secretaries, typists, clerks and switchboard operator Marguerite Proctor (for these many years Mrs. Earle Parsons Sr. of Northampton). Other cars followed with four paymasters, shipping department, accountants, personnel manager. We toured the streets of Easthampton. Horns blew. Small flags waved. Then we all went back to work.

Nineteen seventeen and 1918 had been busy with Liberty Loan and War Stamp drives. Camp Bartlett, a soldier encampment covered the entire present Barnes Airport area in Westfield. That brought the war nearer home.

Thirty-one men and one woman from Southampton joined the Armed Forces… The town was especially proud of its one Red Cross nurse, Helen K. Judd (later to become Mrs. Sumner Coleman), stationed in Base Hospital No. 6 at Bordeaux, France. We sang:

Through the war’s great curse
Stands the Red Cross Nurse,
She’s the rose of No-Man’s Land”…

and thought of Helen, and loved her.

To my knowledge the only survivors of the 32 who served from town are Frank T. Frary and Dr. George F. Norris, both of Southampton.

Nov. 11 was soon voted a national holiday to be observed as Armistice Day, commemorating the cessation of hostilities in World War 1.


It is 1945, I am again a secretary, in the General Electric Company office in Pittsfield. They are building huge gun directors under government contract. It is May, and V-E Day has just been celebrated. But the end is not yet.

Following V-E Day in Europe my son, Robert Hendrick, was sent to Dakar, Africa, to navigate flights across the Atlantic to Natal, Brazil, where the Air Transport Command was ferrying troops toward the planned invasion of Japan. My other son, Theodore Hendrick, had been stationed on the India-Burma border for nearly three years. There our planes were conditioned for safe flying “Over the Hump,” ferrying thousands of GIs out of China…

It is August, in the GE office we type and file and listen every noon to the news on our office radio. One noon the voice of Raymond Clapper announces: “An atomic bomb has been dropped on Hiroshima.” My boss, a short, sandy-haired excitable man, jumps up and paces the floor exclaiming: “That’s the Manhattan Project… they’ve done it! They’ve done it!” A second bomb dropped on Japan a few days later brought their surrender, V-J Day had come.

I am in a beauty parlor in Pittsfield. My hairdresser checks the commotion in the street” Everybody’s celebrating. They’re singing, dancing, drinking. “My son will not be coming home.” is the comment. Dare I hope that one of the flights into the wild blue yonder will bring my sons home? Dare I hope that by year’s end the dream of a white Christmas will come true?…

Bob Hendrick tells if V-J Day in the barracks in Dakar: “We were reading or playing cards awaiting new flight assignments when the news came on the armed services radio that an atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. We knew then that the war would soon end. We did not cheer or sing or drink or in any way celebrate. We talked quietly of going home to our families; and of all the changes we would face in civilian life. A different world. The atomic age was just beginning. A world not safe for democracy.”

V-J Day for Ted Hendrick on the India-Burma border was like every other day. There was no big announcement. They heard the news through the grapevine. Work continued as usual;. They all began to talk of home and families. The actual date of V-J Day was Aug. 14, on Ted’s birthday.

On Sept. 2, 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Maj. Gen Yohijiro Umeso met aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, and signed the papers of agreement that brought World War II to an end.

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