|A Day that Will Live in Infamy
The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on Sunday, December 7, 1941. While the United States had long been
supporting Great Britain and the Soviet Union in their fight against Nazi Germany and had been placing severe
trade restrictions on Japan, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise. Within hours the Pacific fleet was
severely crippled. However Japan and the Axis powers neither gauged the depth of American anger or ability
to raise war against them.
German Sub lands Saboteurs in Ponte Vedra Beach
On the night of June 16, 1942, four saboteurs from a German submarine came ashore at Ponte Vedra
Beach just a few miles north of St. Augustine carrying explosives and American money. Five days earlier,
another submarine had put ashore four others on Long Island, NY. The German spies were captured
before they can do any damage, but the entire Atlantic Seaboard was alarmed. Coast Guard units in St.
Augustine would patrol the beaches on horseback, in jeeps, and even using specially trained patrol dogs.
The number of military bases in Florida increased from eight in 1940 to 172 in 1943. German U-Boats sank
24 ships between February and May 1942. The Florida attacks killed hundreds of men and sent millions of
dollars in cargo and oil to the bottom of the Atlantic. They also brought fear to civilians.
Zora Neale Hurston
In 1942 Zora Neale Hurston moved to St. Augustine. She taught at Florida Memorial College. One of her
earlier stories for the Journal of Negro History was about Fort Mose. She lived in West St. Augustine.
April, 1941 the USO NCCS Club Opens
The St. Augustine USO operated National Catholic Community Service Club located in the Lyceum building
on South St. George Street. There were over 300 workers and 250 junior hostesses. Joseph R. Regna was
the director of the club which was assisted by the Catholic Daughters, the Catholic Woman's Study Club, the
National Council of Catholic Women, the National Council of Catholic Men, the Knights of Columbus, the
American Legion and its axillary, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its auxiliary, the Elks, civic officials and
others, including members of the Fire Department.
One of their projects was the Beach Project (which they operated with the NCCS and YMCA USO's.)
Hundreds of service men were transported free to and from the local beaches. Bathing suits and towels were
furnished without charge.
The Lyceum auditorium held Recruit Shows on Friday for the Coast Guard trainees. Recruit Shows were
staged and produced by and for the men.
Regular programs included on Sunday an open house all day with dancing instructions in the afternoon. On
Monday at 7:30 p.m. meeting of the Catholic Service Men's Study Club with the Rev. P. D. O'Brien, club
moderator leading the discussions. On Tuesday and Wednesday open house, Thursday dance with music by
the Coast guard Band and Friday with the USCS Recruit Show.
The club had a library, writing room, pool, ping-pong, music by records, basketball, equipment for baseball,
soft ball, tennis, horseshoe pitching, and other outdoor games. There was radio and record players, showers,
towels and hot water with shaving and pressing facilities. Carriage rides and trips to points of historical interest
were arranged free of charge along with beach excursions, boat rides and fishing tackle.
In addition to the director the NCCS Club staff included Vincent Lipsic assistant to Mr. Regna and Miss M.K.
Murphy was secretary.
St. Augustine Post No. 315 Formed
On December 17, 1942 a group of 25 members formed the local post of the Regular Veterans Association.
Eleven of the twenty five were life members. It's headquarters were in the Fraternal Building on Charlotte
Street. The Regular Veterans Association was organized in 1934. It was created to serve all active, retired,
disabled and honorably discharged enlisted men of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, their
widows and dependents. The Post commander was Francis J. Johann, Frank DiPietre, senior vice
commander; William Kopp, junior vice commander; James Alligood, adjutant; John J. Dolan, quartermaster;
Oscar Landfield, judge advocate; Jesse Barrow, service officer; Donald Jordan, chaplain; Raymond Eutsler,
medical officer; William Day, W. E. Deacon, Joseph Stephens, trustees; William Maddox, sergeant at arms;
James Guyton, intelligence officer; Steven Chorvat, historian; Nicholas Borgia and Aubrey Draper, color
bearers; Neil Matheson and Albert Canalizo, color guards.
Men who had completed one year's honorable voluntary service, or who had been honorably discharged by
reason of a service connected disability were eligible for membership.
Other Veteran Organizations
By World War II the old Grand Army of the Republic organization Chatfield Post had been disbanded and the
Confederate veterans consisted of only B. Genovar and R. K. Boyt. The oldest organization remaining was the
Frank J. Howatt Camp of the United Spanish War Veterans. The American Legion St. Johns Post No. 37
was an active organization of men who fought in World War I and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Both of
these groups had active auxiliaries.
Library for Colored Men in Service (St. Augustine Record, February 7, 1943)
The St. Joseph Catholic Mission of St. Augustine is sponsoring an open library to all colored men in the
service and to the public.
The St. Charles Lwanga Library, located No. 186 King Street in West Augustine is open. every day from 3 to
5 o'clock. There are books, newspapers and periodicals of every type available for the service men free. They
are extended a cordial invitation to take advantage of this opportunity.
Sister Rosalie Dies; Service to be Monday
Sister Rosalie Andreu, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph, passed away Saturday morning here, friends will
regret to learn. She was a native of St. Augustine and taught in the various missions throughout Florida
conducted by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The funeral mass will be celebrated at the Convent chapel on Monday morning at 9 o'clock and interment will
be in San Lorenzo Cemetery here.
It is requested that no flowers be sent.
Sister Rosalie is survived by four sisters: Sister Aloysia in the Convent here and Mrs. T. M. Walker of St.
Augustine; Mrs Roy Rainey, of Jacksonville and Mrs. I. A. Colee, of Deland.
City's Health Rules Followed, Says Dr. White (St. Augustine Evening Record, March 4, 1943)
Complete cooperation of officials at the U. S. Coast Guard Training Station in isolating some men suffering
from measles, and in quarantining men who had come in contact with thosewho are ill, was reported today, by
Dr. H. E. White, city health officer.
Doctor White said that all rules and regulations covering health conditions in the city of St. Augustine had been
complied with by officals at the Training Station.
St. Johns County in the Service
By March 31, 1943 St. Johns County had 1,211 men off to war. The army had 766, the Navy had 333, the
Marines 42 and the Coast Guard 70.St. Johns voluntary enlistments were 665. There were 546 inductions, out
of a total of 2448 white registrants and 1,498 African American registrants.
The Arsenal on Marine (St. Francis)
The building was the headquarters of the Military Department of the State of Florida and the State's Selective
Service Headquarters both headed by Brig. Gen. Vivian Collins, Adjutant General of Florida and Director of
Selective Service for this state. It had become the headquarters for the State Selective Service in the fall of
Army Signal School
The Army Signal School started a training school at Florida Memorial (Normal) for African-Americans. Zora
Neal Hurston begin to criticize the program and the college for its supposed ill-treatment of the students.
Qualifications for the exclusive program were: a license to operate amateur radio station, if the trainee had built
sets; or,six months of full time paid experience in technical radio work; or, a one year residence vocational
course in electricity or radio repair work; or, a six months resident technical course in a radio school; or,
satisfactory completion of one year of college physics which must include electrical laboratory; or, a United
States sponsored Engineering Defense Training Course in telephone or radio work; or, satisfactory completion
of Mechanic Learner (Radio) course.
The program was open to both men and women. There were 500 trainees including one from St. Augustine.
Over $700,000 was pumped by the government into the program.
The Extension Service Goes to War
The Extension Service was one of several agencies assigned to carry out programs of the War Food
Administration, created in April, 1943. Extension agent assistants were hired to help farmers increase their
harvests and encourage conservation and rationing.
Home demonstration agents assisted in the Emergency Farm Labor Program by encouraging adults and 4-H
members to keep gardens, both farm and city, encouraged farmers to keep larger poultry flocks, and
developed family nutritional plans for maximum benefit of the food. They also organized community canning
centers for meat, fruits, and vegetables to be used in the homes and sent to the soldiers overseas. In addition,
thousands of tons of vegetables, normally wasted by commercial vegetable outfits, were gathered and
With so many men overseas, the women at home used leadership skills developed in extension work to
assume community responsibilities. The Women's Land Army encouraged non-farm women to do farm-related
work. In 1945, home demonstration agents in 30 Florida counties reported that 19,277 women and girls were
working on farms; 2167 of them for the first time. Women, girls, and young boys did their own work plus what
their fathers and husbands usually did. They worked their own farms, exchanged work with neighbors, and
worked for hire, cutting seed potatoes, planting, harvesting, supervising labor, driving tractors, and harvesting
citrus -- whatever needed to be done. Those at home during the war deserve much credit for their hard work.
African American Steward Program
The Coast Guard also had a training program for Stewards in St. Augustine at least from 7-31-43. The
African American Coast Guard basic training was held at Curtis Bay, Maryland in a segregated facility. They
were taught how to prepare food and serve the officers. They were taught us how to take care of the officers.
This school was also segregated. Do not currently know the location of the school but it was probably Florida
Memorial as they had additional programs beyond the Army Signal School.
Army Military Police and Coast Guard SP
Camp Blanding operated a sub-post in St. Augustine for the Army M. P. detail. The commander in St.
Augustine was Max S. Edelstein. On the recreation grounds of the civic center tents were placed in rows with
graveled streets. The companies of soldiers that came through were given instruction, completed physical
workouts and served M. P. duty. The camp had its own post office and library. The camp also had a day
room for the men. Two lots were used for a motor pool and two gasoline pumps were installed. Bathing
facilities for both men and officers were increased with an entirely new bathhouse. Francis Field was used for
training facilities and the Fort Green was shared with the Coast Guardsmen. The Civic center was used
weekdays for lectures, training films and rainy day sessions. One structure was built to be open 24 hours a day
--- the medical and dental clinic. The clinic was for emergencies. Routine lab work was done there as well as
shots and routine physicals. Anything that did not require a bed. For patients that needed a bed they were sent
to the Army Hospital. There also was a canteen on site. The kitchen had outdoor brick ovens. The men used
their mess kits.
Captain William E. Harvill was Camp Adjutant (he also served as fire marshall.). First Lieutenant Ernest B.
Aden was Supply Officer. First Lieutenant Harry I. Fox was Station Surgeon and First Lieutenant Joseph F.
McCauley was Dental Surgeon. The enlisted men who served at the clinic were Sergeant Charles Long, Frank
Goodale, Dothan Wilson, John Lelite, Ratchford Long, Joseph Stremba all privates.
For the recreation of the men at the beach that ran an Army Recreational Bathhouse at St. Augustine Beach
with free transportation to and from the site.
The soldiers ate well in St. Augustine. The menus were prepared and distributed by the sales office of the
Quartermaster at Camp Blanding and served to the Military Police companies at the St. Augustine's Army
Recreational Area. (on San Marco Avenue outside the city gate) Sample menu: Breakfast: oranges, oatmeal,
fresh milk, scrambled eggs, French fried potatoes, bread or toast and coffee. Dinner: split pea soup, crackers,
soft roast beef, boiled potatoes, fresh green string beans, boiled carrots, celery and cucumber salad, bread,
cookies. Supper: baked noodles with diced beef, fried sweet potatoes lima beans, sliced tomatoes, bread,
dried fruit pies, and lemonade. Sundays were special with oranges, dry assorted cereal, fresh milk, hot cakes,
sausages, syrup and coffee for breakfast. Dinner was corn chowder, fricassee of chicken, steamed rice,
English peas, apple and celery salad, bread and ice cream. Supper was beef cold cuts, potato salad, sliced
tomatoes, sweet mixed pickles, hot rolls, and apple butter.
The SP or Shore Patrol worked closely with the MPs. Sometimes they walked their beat jointly but it was
possible for either group to arrest the other's personnel. Together they pulled men on violation of uniform wear,
they prevented fights, and broke up those in progress. They also watched the "off limits" establishments.
Lieutenant Commander J. P. Crowley commanded the SPs. The offenders were either taken to the brig in the
training station or to the city jail.
Coast Guard Takes Over Ponce de Leon Hotel
There is hereby created and established a United States Coast Guard Reserve (hereinafter referred to as the
"Reserve"), the purpose of which is to provide a trained force of officers and men which, added to regular
personnel of the Coast Guard, will be adequate to enable that service to perform such extraordinary duties as
may be necessitated by emergency conditions." --- Coast Guard Auxiliary and Reserve Act Title II, Section
201 passed Feb 19, 1941, by the 77the Congress of the United States. One of the first classes to graduate
from Reserve officer training did so at St. Augustine in May 1941 at the converted Hotel Bennett. In that May
class was Capt. Richard E. Bacchus, Jr. the first officer commissioned.
A junior officer of the Officer Indoctrination School would become the first commanding officer of the Coast
Guard Reserve Training Center at Yorktown, Va. In 1966 as commander of the 7th District he would preside
over the Silver Jubilee of the Reserves in St. Augustine.
From 1942-45, thousands of young recruits received their "boot" and advanced training. From September
1942 till June 1945 the Coast Guard would establish a training academy at the old Ponce de Leon Hotel. This
was one of five locations in the United States. There were training stations in New York, the State of
Washington, California and Maryland. The City on August 28, 1942 adopted resolutions expressing
appreciation to the officials of the Florida East Coast Hotel Company for helping to locate the U. S. Coast
Guard Training Station in the Ponce de Leon Hotel. Over 2000 men would be trained in the converted hotel. It
would also bring its auxiliary SPARS to St. Augustine. They also took over the Castillo.
At the Castillo the Coast Guard and the Army used the parade ground for drill practice and graduation
ceremonies. They also used four casements for classrooms as the Gunner's Mate School. In August of 1943
the Gunners school moved out and the officers training school moved in. April, 1944 the Coast Guard moved
all classrooms out of the Castillo. Captain W. K. Scammell was the commanding officer of the St. Augustine
United States Coast Guard Training Station. The Ponce de Leon was transformed into the training station for
the Coast Guard and the Gunnery School personnel. The Monson and Bennett Hotels were also converted
into schools for indoctrination training for newly appointed officers in this branch of the Naval service and for
The program was an intensive five weeks to teach the fundamentals of the Coast Guard. The new "boot"
received his clothing and stencils his name on each article, obtained his identification card, his "dog tag" was
interviewed, took an I. Q. test and went through the medical lineup and got his shots (typhoid, tetanus,
smallpox ). He had to learn deck seamanship, signalling, gunnery, knot tying, ordnance, Coast Guard customs
and traditions among other things. Some went into general duty. Others were sent to more advanced schools
for specialized training.
The Coast Guard's Bible was called "The Bluejackets Manual." This was also supplemented by a training
pamphlet that was published by the St. Augustine station.
The men were taught signals, the Coast guard method of resuscitation, infantry drill (which was highly stressed
for disciplinary purposes), chemical warfare, how to use gas masks and so on.
Self-protection was all-important, so recruits had to undergo a "get tough" course. They had boxing, judo, and
an obstacle course.
In the seaman course they were taught the duties of their seaman rating. They were enlisted as Apprentice
Seamen. After four months they are promoted to a Seaman, Second Class, rating. They also have first aid,
bayonet drill and exercises. Under ordinance training instructors taught the men how to use all the firearms
The Coast Guard training also included boat drills under oars and sails. For the first three weeks were an
isolation period with no liberty. After that period they had liberty on Saturday afternoon to midnight and
Sunday afternoon to midnight. Winning battalion reviews would give the winning team extra liberty. Pulling boat
races are staged in the Matanzas Bay with prizes (cigarettes) for the winning boat crews.
Commander A. W. Davis of New York was the recruit and gunnery training officer and Lieutenant-
Commander J. J. Hutson, Jr., of Wilmington, N. C., assistant training officer. Commander Davis was the
former commanding officer of Ellis Island Training Station in New York. He moved to Algiers, New Orleans,
where he was C. O. in 1940-42. Lieut.-Comdr. Hutson graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1933
and had over 7 years of sea duty on the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes. He also served in Algiers New
Orleans where he was the training officer. Lieutenant John Dalin and Lieutenant Peter Marcoux were assistant
training officers also coming from Algiers.
The Gunnery Training School which was originally located at the Bennett was transferred to the Ponce de
Leon. This program was planned a one month course. The Bennett program was fully used for the Officers
Training School. This was an indoctrination course of four months. The indoctrination course primarily was to
acquaint new officers who had just come into the service from civil life, with the customs and traditions. For
the three schools there was a staff of 50 commissioned and warrant officers. Commander W. W. Kenner was
the executive officer of the station. Commander A. W. Davis was the training officer for the recruit and gunners
schools and Lieutenant-Commander O. C. Rohnke was the officer in charge of the Officers Training School.
The assistant training officers were responsible for making the drill schedules for the recruits, instructing the
company and assistant company commanders as to how these schedules should be carried out, supervising
instructions of recruits and ascertaining if the recruits are receiving the proper instruction from their company
Lieut-comdr. Hutson was also the welfare officer. He helped the men get loans because of financial difficulties
or family troubles. It operated a non-interest welfare fund.
The trainees of the St. Augustine Coast Guard Station receive their medical care at the expert hands of one of
the most interesting, yet little known corps of physicians in the world--those of the United States Public Health
The seven physicians and four dentists who comprise the staff of the naval-termed "sick bay" at the training
station. Head of the staff is Comdr. Charles J. McDevitt a veteran of the Public Health Service since 1915
who had seen service for the government throughout the United States. The members of his staff were Lieut
M. H. Millen. Lieut. J. A. Finger, Lieut. W. P. Baker, Lieut Daniel Leavitt, Lieut R. K. Parrish and Lieut
William G. White all physicians. The dentists were Lieut. H. G. Trautman, Lieut E. W. Denny, Lieut H. Bohew
and Lieut J. P. Barker.
The remainder of the sick bey consisted of three chief pharmacist's mates, six first class, six second class, and
nine third class pharmacist's mates and 18 unrated men.
The sick bay was in the Southeast wind of the Ponce de Leon Hotel and had facilities for handling the
hospitalization of 150 men at a time although the average number of patients was 50.
There were 65 beds in rooms broken up into wards, an operating pavilion with three operating rooms, four
dental units and two units for minor surgery. The stations equipment included a photo flurographic unit for
cursory outline X-ray examination of incoming trainees and a more elaborate X-ray unit for diagnostic work.
The unit handled all of the Coast Guard activities in the St. Augustine area.
Lieutenant-Commander O. C. Rohnke was the commander of the Officers Indoctrination School of the St.
Augustine Coast Guard Training Station. He graduated the Coast Guard Academy in 1932. He came to St.
Augustine from New London, Conn., where he was stationed at the Maritime Training School. The training
officer's headquarters were at the Hotel Bennett in the southeast room overlooking the sun porch.
There was a staff of twenty-one officers for the corps of instructors for the Officer school. Heading the staff
was Lieutenant Commander K. O. A. Zittel also a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, Lieutenant
Commander L. M. Thayer, Lieutenant-Commander E. F. Hanks, Lieutenant C. M. Speight, Lieutenant Juliana
J. Shingler, Lieutenant W. K. Kenhoe, Lieutenant George R. Stockbridge, Lieutenant W. K. Earle, Lieutenant
E. P. Fitzpatrick, Lieutenant Fred W. Lowery, Lieutenant Henry D. Jones, Lieutenant Walter L. Kierman,
Lieutenant A. G. Alexander, Lieutenant R. B. English, Lieutenant W. H. Kopp, Lieutenant C. H. Freymueller,
Ensign J. D. Ingham, Ensign T. B. Taylor, Ensign H. N. Baruch, and Ensign W. B. Bersenbrugge.
Lieutenant Thayer would be in charge of the Anti-Submarine Warfare School from September 1942 till
February 1944. Another school was the Vessel Command School. John Thompson was the head of the
Attack Training School. He was later a Rear Admiral.
The first two months was the indoctrination course. It gave students the language and ways of the service and
an understanding of the problems of the service from an administrative viewpoint. The course included:
administration and organization, service customs and traditions, seamanship, gunnery, first aid, regulations,
courts and boards, port security, maritime law, communications and navigation, and drills. There were exams
which became part of their service records.
The Officers School Galley was located in the Monson Hotel. Meals were served cafeteria style, immediately
after meal formation. The students quartered at the Bennett Hotel marched to the Monson at each mess. Each
had his own table and seating assignment. Each was required to pay a mess bill on the first of the month and on
The program ended in 1944. 1,078 officers had completed the courses.
The Coast Guard chaplains assigned to St. Augustine were Lieutenant B. F. Jones (Protestant) and Lieutenant
T. J. Tillman (Catholic). Their days consisted of activities from scrambling through the obstacle course,
arranging a boxing show, counseling Guardsmen and teaching their faith. Lieut. Jones was a Presbyterian
minister from California graduating from San Francisco Theological Seminary and Lieut. Tillman was also from
California graduating from St. Patrick's Seminary.
The Chaplain offices were located in the Hotel Marion. Two enlisted men were assigned to the John
Thompson, seaman first class who was director of the choir and prepared the music and worship numbers for
the Protestant services. Edward Godin, seaman, first class was the other assistant.
Services were held in the Monson Hotel annex. Protestant services were conducted at 10:15. a.m and
Catholic mass at 6:15 and 9:30 a.m. Chaplain Tillman heard confessions from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Every
other week Chaplain Tillman conducted services at the Coast Guard bases at Marineland, Flagler Beach, and
Weekly Dress Reviews
Weekly dress reviews for the apprentice companies of the Coast Guard were held on Saturday mornings on
the Fort green as part of routine training.
St. Augustine also had a command for Army Outpost Troops
Lieutenant J. B. Johnson was in command of the Army Outpost Troops. He made his office at the Port's office
at the Hotel Marion. He was a Regular Army officer and had been in the service since November 3, 1939. He
was a reserve officer until 1940 when he received his regular commission. Lieutenant and Mrs. Johnson had a
home on San Marco Avenue.
Death of Miss Evelyn Hamblen
On September 17, 1943 Evelyn Hamblen died in her sleep. Miss Hamblen was a teacher in the local public
schools for many years. She started teaching in the rural areas and then moved to the Aviles school. When
Orange Street opened she taught English and Latin. She was also the Assistant Principal at various times. She
was a St. Johns County School Board member and later became the Chairperson.
World War II Guard Casualties
Several Men from St. Johns County/St. Augustine are casualties in the Second World War from the Florida
National Guard.: Horace H. Adams, Sergeant was killed in Hebecrevow, France; John P. Browning,
Sergeant, Holland; James H. Christopher, Private, Philippine Islands; Russell E. Hall, 1st Lieutenant, Veghel,
Holland; William C. Golden, 1st Lieutenant, Bulgaria; Francis M. Herring, Sergeant, Saales, France; George
M. Nettles, Sergeant, France; Jere F. Palmes, Captain, Germany.
Municipal Airport becomes Navy Flight School
The officer in charge was Lieutenant Kent Robinson, a veteran of the civilian flying business. He was
transferred to Mayport. Next was Lieutenant-Commander Kimball W. Salisbury, of Lake Forest, Ill., who
had been attached to the U. S. Naval Air Station in Jacksonville and the Eastern Sea Command in New York.
He was a veteran of World War I and had reentered the service on June 10, 1942. Lieut. Henry W. Colburn
was the gunnery officer. The men were quartered in nearby tourist camp homes. The "crash boat" was
commanded by Ensigns Paul Himelright and Thomas Hopper. The air field was the last stage of the training
which prepared the pilots for service with the fleet.
On December 27, 1933, the St. Augustine City Commission voted to purchase 276 acres in Araquay Park,
north of the city. Before its acquisition by the Navy, the field housed two hangars. One was owned by the city
and the other, by private interests. The field was built in 1932 by the city with the aid of WPA funds and labor.
After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, civil aviation was cancelled and the U.S. Navy took over the airport,
renaming it Naval Auxiliary Air Station St. Augustine.
The other navy offices in St. Augustine were the Naval Intelligence office and the Zone Public Relations Office.
Ensign G. E. Owen, USNR was in charge of the intelligence unit which was an investigative unit. Lieut Milton
E. Bacon, Jr., USNR handled the liaison work between the Navy and radio stations, newspapers and other
media in the northern part of the state. Both offices were located in the Exchange Bank Building.
The Civic Center
The St. Augustine Civic Recreation Center built in 1935 was about to get a new use. Before the war it housed
the office of the St. Augustine and St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce and was entertainment
headquarters for the local Tourist Club. During the war the Civic Recreation Center was devoted almost
entirely to the entertainment of service men and women in their off-duty moments. The auditorium was also a
lecture and demonstration hall for Military Police training companies. Each week-end, there was a regular
schedule of entertainment which is highlighted by the largely attended Saturday night dances with the popular
Coast Guard Orchestra providing the musical background. On Sunday, informal dancing was usually in
progress. The canteen was open on Saturday and Sunday with simple refreshments.
The service men's recreational programs were under the auspices of the Recreational Division of the St. Johns
County Defense Council.
St. Johns County Red Cross
The Office of the Field Director was located in the Marion Hotel and all service men were welcome to call and
discuss any problems. For wives or parents of members of the Armed Forces needing help or counseling there
was another office at 212 St. George Street. Over 500 families were helped in a one year period. The
organization also sponsored a number of Volunteer Services which included sewing and knitting, the making of
surgical dressings, teaching classes in Home Nursing, First Aid, and Nutrition. Another service was training
young women to be Nurse's Aides in hospitals.
The Camp and Hospital Council has furnished three day rooms for the Service Men located at Camp Blanding
and another day room at the M. P. Area in St. Augustine. They also provided books, magazines, and games
for each of the Service Groups within the County.
The Junior Red Cross did knitting, making scrapbooks, place cards for holiday dinners and many other things
to brighten the everyday life of the service men and women.
Captain of the Port
The St. Augustine Captain of the Port was established in July 1942. The job of the Captain of the Port was the
protection of physical waterfront facilities as well as the ships in the harbors and ports, the wharves, docks and
piers were under its jurisdiction. In St. Augustine the age of ocean going traffic was virtually past. The main
duties consisted of issuing identification cards and boat licenses, local rules, controlling traffic passing through
the Intracoastal Waterway and the enforcement of Federal laws on navigable waters. This office was under the
The first captain of the Port was Lieutenant Clarence M. Speight who went on to be part of the instructor-
personnel at the Ponce de Leon. He was followed by Lieutenant C. M. Brookfield who later became the
Section Coast Guard officer at New Smyma. Lieutenant J. Minor Ewing was the 3rd commander. St.
Augustine's Captain of the Port 4th commander was Lieutenant George R. Loehr. He was formerly part of the
Miami Seventh Naval District Headquarters in 1943. He was born in Cleveland Ohio and had lived in Florida
for seven years prior to the war. He had spend a winter with his dad at the Alhambra. Lieutenant Loehr was
also responsible for the Beach Patrol.
At first the headquarters was in the Post Office but they were eventually moved to the Hotel Marion. The
Captain's office was in the annex overlooking the Municipal Yacht Pier. The hotel lobby became a recreation
room and the dinning room became a store room. A sick bay was also located in the hotel.
There were three beach patrol stations in the area: Ponte Vedra, Marineland and Flagler Beach. Mess facilities
and living quarters were available for the men and the entire shoreline was patrolled in the night hours. The
USO reached these stations by truck to provide entertainment including dances and movies. The WAACs
were the female participants in the dances.
During the daytime the Beach Patrol manned the towers along the coastline which gave views of the entire
area. The Coast Guardsmen had been through a "boot" camp either similar to the Ponce de Leon or from the
Ponce de Leon itself.
The active training with the Captain of the Port consisted of gunnery, signaling, small boat handling,
seamanship, Naval customs and traditions, Marlin Spike seamanship, navigation piloting and infantry drill. The
expectations of the courses were to give each man a well-rounded knowledge of the things a sailor should
Lieutenant L. C. Spaniol was the officer in charge of the pay and supply officers. Ensign Wayland Waters,
USCGR was in charge of personnel and ordinance. Ensign Richard High, USCGR was the guard officer and
communications officer and also in charge of the Beach Patrol. Chief Petty Officers included Oscar P.
Landfield as the chief commissionary steward. (The annex of the Marion Hotel - the Lucerne Coffee Shop was
used as the main location for meals but each Beach Station had their own mess.) Clinton Knight was the chief
machinist's mate and assistant to Ensign High. James Larrow was the chief radio mate and was in charge of all
the radio facilities for the section. William R. Royster was the chief gunner's mate and had supervision of all the
ordinance and instruction of the men in all phases of gunnery. (They used the old gun range near Flagler
Hospital as a practice range for the Captain of the Port's men.) James B. Hurit was the chief boatswain's mate
and was in charge of all the picket boats.
The first boats of the Coast Guard were pleasure craft that had been converted for use. By 1943 the Coast
Guard was receiving its own boats and replacing the pleasure craft with specially designed craft especially
noted by their blue-gray paint. The Municipal Yacht Pier was given over to the Captain of the Port's use.
While there were mechanics capable of general repair and engine overhauling George's Marine Shop was
utilized for hull work or other repairs.
The St. Johns County Defense Council and the Women's Ambulance Corps
The St. Johns County Defense Council was organized in 1941. The total membership at that time consisted of
its present chairman, Colonel James H. Reynolds, Jr. and John W. Dililin the executive secretary. The first
meeting was held in the office of the Chamber of Commerce. By 1943 it consisted of an executive council, and
to corps of five and eight divisions. In addition to the chairman the Executive Council had as vice chairman, M.
H. Westberry, the executive secretary, Frank H. Harold; and Col. H. L. Butler, Major Max S. Edelstein, S.
C. Middleton, Ray Kauble, D. M. Lyon, Carl W. Hawkins, W. M. Toomez, Jr, and Dr. C. J. Settles
members. The air raid warden group was an independent unit under J. Loyd Clarke the chief air raid warden.
The first objective of the council was to establish the aircraft warning stations in the county. They recruited and
trained the personnel and by 1943 the organization worked directly under order of the First Fighter Command
of the Army.
The Council recruited and organized Company D, Third Battalion, Florida Defense Force, then turned it over
to Brig. Gen. Vivian Collins. (See Picture)
The Citizens Service Corps did every activity in defense not covered by the Citizens Defense Corp. Industry
and Material Resources, Carl W. Hawkins, chair; Finance and Budget, Israel Folden chairman; Agriculture
Chairman Hubert E. Maltby; Division of Home and Community service, Chair Mrs. A. L. Philips; Division of
Food, O. D. Wolfe chairman; Education and Morals, Dr. C. J. Settles,chair; Labor and Personnel, C. E.
Coomes chair; and division of recreation, R. O. Holton chair.
Some important subdivisions included evacuation and road clearance with David R. Dunham as chairman;
emergency food and housing with Walter Moseller, chairman; T. W. Fleming chairman of Command staff and
Vivian Usina, chair of Public Works.
The Citizens Defense Corps was presided over by Colonel Butler, the director of air raid services; and the
Citizens Service Corps of Dr. C. J. Settles, the director. The action divisions were civil protection Capt. Otis
E. Barnes chairman, Communication and Transportation, D. M. Lyon chairman; the division of health and
housing, Dr. Charles H. Crooks, chairman; the division of power and fuel, William S. Weff, chairman; and the
division of water supply and fire protection, Lamar Harrison, chairman.
The council also coordinated the Red Cross classes for first aid and nurse's aides, defense bond sales, child
welfare, ration boards, etc.
An independent unit under the division of health and housing was the Woman's Ambulance Corps. Guy E.
Gatchell was chairman and Captain Edith Gardner was the commanding officer. It was one of the most active
branches of the County Defense Council. The corps operated under the Division of Health and Housing and its
members were equipped with courses in standard and advanced first aid taught by Guy Gatchell, motor
mechanics taught by M. F. Doyle, map reading, taught by Colonel H. L. Butler; military drill supervised by Pvt.
Joe Ervin a course in war gases and treatments by J. A. Crookshank, a general course in home defense work
taught by M. H. Westberry and Dr. C. J. Settles, convoy driving by Major Max S. Edelstein, and the use of
gas masks and inhalator by Sam Masters.
On the second Tuesday of each month the Corps has practice air raid drills. During these drills the aid of local
citizens was secured to act as victims of air radio and to call the casualty station and report the casualty. In
turn, the Ambulance Corps sends out a group consisting of four girls and a driver in an ambulance to pick up
the injured persons. At the scene of the accident, the injured were given first aid then were brought to the
casualty station where a physician was on hand to administer further treatment if necessary. There were five
qualified first aid instructors in the Corps who keep the members up to date on such work. Corp officers were:
captain, Edith Gardner, first lieutenants Juanita Mier, Kathleen Campbell, Mary Harper, second lieutenants
Annie Nader, Vivian Wiler, Zillie Davis, sergeants, Mable Fields, Grace Mickler, Betty Hamilton, first sergeant
St. Augustine's Own in the Coast Guard Local Service
St. Augustine's contribution to the local Coast Guard (Captain of the Port) service included: Virgil B. Mathis,
Worley Mier, Gomer Bray, Sterling Andrew, Everett L. Solano, John K. Shugart, Niel A. Mier, Robert J.
Mier, Anthony J. Tringall, Walter V. Drawdy, George William Zeller, Thomas A. Smith, Jr., Godfred Pomar,
Neil C. Miner, John M. Ryan, Vernon A. Smith, Henry J. May, and Everett R. Sequi. C. D. Daniels and Davil
McSwain were Coast Guard personnel attached to the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
SPARS ( Semper Paratus, Always Ready)
On November 23, 1942, Congress enacted Public Law 773 establishing the Women’s Reserve as a branch of
the Coast Guard. Women enlisted in the WAVES and SPARS In the St. Augustine Coast Guard Training
Station there were a group of SPARS including two officers: Ensign Costa M. Terrel and Ensign Dorothea E.
Wolf. The first two SPARS reporting were Yeoman Blanche Speer and Alice Lucille DeBarba. Both had
completed four months' training with the WAVES at the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. They
were discharged from the WAVES so they could join SPARS. The next seven were: Dixie N. Benson,
Mildred F. Georgen, Florence B. Gramont, Viola J. Goodwin, Dorothy Beatty, Katherine Keeler, and Marian
Nugent. All were seamen, second class.
With the exception of Beatty and Keeler who got their indoctrination training at Hunters College New York.
All the women trained at Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls. Their training averaged four weeks and
upon completion they were rated as second class seamen.
St. Augustine was their first active assignment. The women were quartered on the outside but had their meals
in the Ponce de Leon being served in the former Spanish Room of the hotel.
Where were the WAACs?
The second of five training centers for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was located at Daytona Beach.
This gave the popular city of St. Augustine lots of additional visitors. The women were invited to St. Augustine
and encouraged to use the entertainment facilities.
The women's training schools included: Motor Transportation, Communications, Cooks and Bakers, and
Administrative. The women replaced men in various positions and released them for active combat.
Marineland Does Its Part
Marineland closed down at the beginning of the war and the Coast Guard operated a dog handling station out
of the area. The Marineland station was under the supervision of Godfrey Pomar, boatswain's mate, second
class who had a force of Coast Guard handlers and 75 patrolmen. The dog handlers and dogs received a two
months basic training at the army base in Front Royal, Va. The beach was broken up into patrol stretches with
watch towers at regular intervals. Between the towers, Marineland's patrols consisting of two men and one
dog -- walk the beach for six hours at a time. The patrolling was done entirely at night and was broken up into
The 1944 hurricane in 1944 flooded Bay Street.
Carnegie Institution of Washington turns the Llambias House over to the St. Augustine Historical
In February 1945 the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D. C. turned over the St. Augustine Historical all of
their power and authority regarding the management of the Llambias House authorizing and empowering the
President of the Society to fill vacancies on the Board of Trustees of the Llambias House. On March 13 David
R. Dunham as President appointed A. J. Hanna George Gibbs, Alfred Houston, H. E. Wolfe, and X. L.
Pellicer to serve as trustees of the Llambias House.
Rev. John Lee Tilley was the president of the college from 1944 to 1949 and was the first executive director
of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1945 Florida Memorial
had it first graduation with a Bachelor of Science degree.
Go to St. Augustine Post World War II
|Dr. Bronson's St. Augustine History
World War II and Post War
ab urbe condita - 376 to 395
|Zora Neale Hurston
|Most information for the military activities that took place in St.
Augustine comes from the St. Augustine Record April 25, 1943
issue as do all of the newspaper pictures below
|U. S. Coast Guard Cutter USS Blaze
Training Cutter assigned to St. Augustine in late 1943
|David J. Morris handling the lanyard for the ship's bell aboard Blaze,
|FDR as Dr. Win the War
|St. Augustine of Hippo
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