Join us for our January lecture at the Lititz Library as we welcome special guest speaker Brett Snyder, who will give a fascinating presentation on local air raid posts during World War 2.
By the summer of 1941, war clouds were looming over America. In the eventuality of war, there would be a need for our coasts to be defended – and the available U.S. military resources would be stretched to the limit. The US Army, working with the American Legion, developed a plan for aircraft observation posts that would be staffed entirely by civilian volunteers.
Stretching along both coasts as well as the Gulf of Mexico and around the Great Lakes, the “Aircraft Warning Service” or AWS, with over 14,000 posts and up to 1.2 million civilian volunteers, would scan the skies for aircraft.
Twenty-seven of these posts were located throughout Lancaster County. Known locations once in the area included Lititz, Gap, Cains, New Holland, Churchtown, Terre Hill, Adamstown, Denver, Quarryville, Christiana, Lancaster, Manheim, Penryn, Drumore, Little Britain, Neffsville, Holtwood, Ephrata, Paradise, Strasburg, Columbia, Kinzers, Intercourse and others.
If enemy aircraft was spotted, the US Army Air Corps would “scramble” planes to intercept the intruders. Luckily, the enemy never showed up, but all military & civilian flights were observed and reported in to “Filter Centers”, with their paths plotted on large maps.
The American Legion set up and recruited “Chief Observers”, for each post – almost all of who were local Legion members, and WWI Veterans. The Chief’s duty was to find & schedule the volunteers needed for the required 24/7 coverage, with 2-person shifts. Volunteers included able-bodied civilians including women and older children.
Most of these posts were one-room wooden shacks, complete with coal stoves for heat and a telephone. Two posts were in old truck bodies, and one was in and on a railroad box car!
Two tests were run in September & October of 1941, and in the days immediately following the Pearl Harbor Attack on December 7th, 1941, the posts were put into full operation, 24 x 7, until the inland programs were mostly curtailed in October of 1943, ceasing nationally by May of 1944.
The lecture is FREE, and open to the public, and will take place at the Lititz Public Library. Please call the Lititz Library to reserve your seat! 717-626-2255.
The Christiana Post, with Della Mae Sterling Chalfont posing in the front of the structure.
The Lititz Post in Lexington, Lancaster County