York Workers Pause for D-Day Prayers
D-Day Service for York Naval Ordnance workers (Courtesy York County Heritage Trust)
A couple of my recent posts were taken from the World War I newsletter/magazine Connecting Links, put out for former employees serving in the military and home front employees at American Chain Co. (ACCO).
Again during World War II many York manufacturers issued their own newsletters and magazines keeping those on the front and on military bases connected with the workers back home. Jim McClure used York Corporation’s World War II Shop News as a resource when he wrote In the Thick of the Fight: York County, Pa. Counters the Axis Threat in WWII.
While preparing for York County Heritage Trust‘s upcoming exhibit Front Porch to Front Lines: York County Goes to War, YCHT Director of Library & Archives Lila Fourhman-Shaull came across issues of The Safe Combination, produced by the “Navy Department Operating the Plants of York Safe and Lock Co.” As with other members of the York industrial community, the Safe and Lock plants were retooled during the war to manufacture military equipment and supplies. A few items mentioned in the July 1944 issue of The Safe Combination included 90 mm guns, depth charge pistols and boosters and armored cabs for Seabees’ bulldozers.
The striking photo above appeared on the cover of the July 1944 The Safe Combination. “H.M. Blatner snapped the war workers in Bethany Evangelical Church, where most East Plant people prayed. The invasion conception was evolved from a U.S. Maritime photo. We tried to depict the thought that ‘Our Prayers Went with Them.”
The occasion was D-Day, the sixth of June, 1944.
An article about the day, with additional photos, inside The Safe Combination reads:
“Our D-Day Services
June 6th, 1944, will be a day long remembered. The long awaited D-Day when our boys stormed Hitler’s ‘Fortress Europe’ was a day of hushed excitement, a day of deep humility. Glad we were for the interlude of prayer afforded us that afternoon.
Leaving machines, benches and desks, Main Plant folks gathered in the open near the south parking area and there were led in devotions by the Rev. H.D. Hill. Assisting him in the service was the Rev. H. Gebhard, an employee of our Production Dept. Another York Safe man, Hope Fink, led the hymning with a brass wind group for accompaniment.
Most East Plant folks went to the Bethany Evangelical Church. There the Rev. Paul A. Warner had, in addition to war workers, the student body of our Service School. Naval officers and petty officers in the uniform of the day, with their instructors, bowed their heads in prayer for comrades in the fight.
South Plant people scattered to churches of their choice in the vicinity of the building.”
Click here to read more about YCHT’s From Front Porch to Front Lines, opening on Flag Day, June 14. The public is invited and admission is free that day. A full day and evening of activities are planned for Tuesday with many more events throughout the next year.