Ipswich Company of the Massachusetts State Guard, 1942

The Ipswich Company, Massachusetts State Guard, 1942

Featured image: Fred Sturtevant (front left), George C. Weagle, Dana Parsons (2nd row left), Alfred Kotek, Charles Weagle, Martel, Hubert Tougas (3rd row, left), Percy Dort, Don Bugdon, George Deveau, Richard Chapman, Millard Tarr, Jack Clogston (rear left), Ray Horsman, Louis Marchand, Louis Clements and Dick Greenleaf. (From Tales of Olde Ipswich by Harold Bowen.)


(Thanks to Larry Collins for sharing this document)

Officers of the Ipswich Company

“With substantially 15,000 man hours of practice, procedure and training under their military belts, the Ipswich Company of the Massachusetts State Guard is rapidly being whipped into shape as a trained military unit for the protection of life and property in this area.

“Formed last January, it has come a long ways since that winter day when State authorities faced the imperative need of rounding up green men and welding them into a State military force, which has grown so rapidly that today there are more than 118 companies comparable to the Ipswich Company, plus the lettered companies of the State Guard.

“The Ipswich Company, one of the first to recruit its full complement of 61 men and three officers, has already been cited for its exceptional record, and participated in outside parades and maneuvers to typify the manner in which State Guard companies should operate. It is under the command of Captain Lewis S. Clement of County Road, the man selected last January by the Adjutant General’s office to tackle the task of bringing together untrained men and teaching them the rudiments and fundamentals of modern warfare that the people at home might be amply protected with the regular army engaged in training for overseas fighting.

“It is doubtful if one per cent of the populace in Ipswich are familiar with the untold number of hours the men of the Ipswich company have already put in, the countless numbers of miles they have tramped in their training, and the intensive detail work already put in studying the terrain of this countryside to prepare against invasion, paratroop landings, the deadly work of saboteurs, riots, and the manifold tasks that confront this group of men in the event of trouble.

“Like many phases of war work and civilian defense activities today it is a “thankless job.” in the event one is looking for pubic recognition of the labor involved. From the outset, however, each man enlisting in the Ipswich Company realized he was “in” for the duration, that the hardships were his for the asking, and that he was not looking for public thanks.

“The men feel it is a job they can do at home while the other men continue the fight for freedom in the embattled forts, seas and lands of the entire world. It was necessary, therefore, with the National Guard gone into the regular army, to have a military arm in the State for the more direct protection of life and property, suppression of rebellion, protection against invasion, armed forces in the event of riots, etc.

The Ipswich Company, Massachusetts State Guard,

“The Ipswich men enlisting in the State Guard recognized the gravity of the situation much more than most of the populace, being cognizant of the fact that they were enlisting for the duration of the war, that they became subject to army rules and regulations, and that they could not be excused from service in the State Guard except in the event of enlisting in the armed forces of their country.

The Ipswich Company Massachusetts State Guard

“Men in the State Guard are subject to the army laws. It was not designed to be child’s play and it has grown increasingly difficult for the members to continue their work. They are not allowed to be absent from drill nights or on Sunday mornings, without permission from the commanding officer of the company, and only then for good and sufficient reasons. On Tuesday nights the Ipswich Company meets at the Town Hall, where they have regular quarters.

The Ipswich Company Massachusetts State Guard

“On each Sunday morning the members of the State Guard here are ordered to report to the Town Hall by 8:45 a. m. to tackle a new “problem,” all of which is unknown to them. By this method the members in the local company are rapidly familiarizing themselves with the terrain of this part of the country. Many of the “problems’ consist of traversing their way through dense woods, without lights, and with only a compass to guide them. Some of this is field skirmish work, and if one has an idea it is a lark they are invited to try plunging through some of the thick woods bordering Ipswich in the middle of the night, without lights.

The Ipswich Company Massachusetts State Guard

“When they return to headquarters, maps and tracings of the country they have covered are drawn up and again studied. These maps will prove of extreme value in the event of trouble here, and for future use by civilians and town officials. When the members finish “problems” covering every part of the town, they will have completed and have on file detailed maps covering substantially every foot of ground in Ipswich, concluding with a large-scale and detailed map of all Ipswich. Already the instruction given the members of the local company has shown that the methods and plans of the past could not hope to compete with the twentieth century call upon soldiers to protect life and property. The advent of the plane and paratroops has caused many methods of the past to be discarded and thrown into the limbo of forgotten things.

The Ipswich Company Massachusetts State Guard

“Intensive studies are made of the most practicable manner of scouting and defending such important points in the town as the water and light works, railroad bridges and passes, main highways and important arteries of traffic and the river. Commando tactics already taught here are methods of controlling riots, approaching and capturing points held by an invasion force, modern military methods of approaching streets with dwellings on both sides, how to dig split trenches and “fox holes.” Much of this is replete with hard laborious work, and some of it the digging of trenches.

The Ipswich Company Massachusetts State Guard

“The Ipswich Company does not plan to be any drain on town funds. It is anticipated that aid will be given by the State, and possibly by the Federal government, but when this will come is problematical. It is a heavy drain on the State fund for this purpose to furnish all proper equipment and clothing for the companies already in existence, and if the individual companies can raise some of their own funds it is a step in the right direction to lessen the load on State funds.

“Right now the Ipswich Company is facing the cold weather ahead with the need of considerable winter equipment. such as overseas caps, shirts, overcoats or Mackinaws, heavy trousers, overshoes, gloves, mufflers, ear-coverings, etc. Much additional equipment is needed, including ‘mess kits and cartridge belts.

“One of the splendid gestures to aid the local company was the offer of a 60-acre tract of land by relatives of Sergeant Winfield S. Johnson. This has been converted into a rifle range, and is located off Pine Swamp Road on Turkey Hill. In the short time it has been in existence it has more than proved its value, and some 13 original members of the Ipswich Company have already gone into the armed forces of the nation. These are John E. Collins, Everett Comeau, Charles L. Bailly. Jr., Frank J. O’Malley, Donald F. Perkins, Arthur R. Reed, Roy E. Scott, Henry Manzer and Walter E. Kraus.”

From the 1943 Ipswich Town Report

Civilian Defense Committee Report To the Citizens of Ipswich

“January 1, 1943 found the Ipswich Civilian Defense Organization at its peak in both the number of volunteers and in efficiency. The January roster of all divisions added up to the impressive figure of 683 and this does not include volunteers serving the United States Army Air Observation Post. As the months progressed, however, the continued Allied successes on land and sea and in the air brought a gradual slackening of the tension in Civilian Defense precautions and as a consequence, caused a falling off in interest in some divisions.

“There were two, however, who either maintained the same pace or increased the extent of their activities. These were the Auxiliary Police , and the Social Service Division. The Victory Garden Committee was just being organized, but before the curtain rang down on their activities, their record of accomplishments was something to be proud of. Because of a very acute shortage of gasoline, the weekly Civilian Defense drills which were in vogue in 1942 were for the most part dispensed with: however, occasional practice alerts or regional blackouts with practice drills showed that the entire Civilian Defense Organization was on its toes and had learned its lessons well.

“There is no question in the mind of the writer but that our Organization was able to handle any emergency arising from any enemy action or fire through sabotage. The first crack in the Civilian Defense structure came with the discontinuance of the night shift of our Report Center Telephonists. By permission of the State Authorities and through the cooperation of the Town Officials and Police, the duties of the evening Telephonists were transferred to the Police Station. Later on it was only natural that they would also absorb the duties which had been the lot of the day Telephonists who were made up mostly of the ladies of the Town. There was not much lost in the efficiency of the “Organization by this change, because the Police could receive the warning messages from the District Warning Center and relay these messages to the Chief Warden, the Deputies and other Chiefs of the Protection Services. In the few practice drills which were held in 1943, this system proved to work very well. The cooperation of the Chief of Police and the officers is very greatly appreciated, especially by the Chief Air Raid Warden.

“One of the big disappointments to our Civilian Defense Organization was the lack of adequate equipment for our Auxiliary Fire Department. We received all sorts of auxiliary fire fighting equipment from the Federal Government with the exception of the nozzles for the hoses; consequently, a fine group of Auxiliary Firemen were forced to sit around biding their time waiting for something that never came. It can be said, however, that the Auxiliary Fire Chief, Lionel Sheppard, kept his men together and put them through all sorts of training maneuvers so that they could have fitted in very well with the regular reserve Firemen if they were needed.

“Of all the divisions of Civilian Defense Protective Services, the Auxiliary Police Company may be singled out for extra special commendation. Under the leadership of Captain George Hovey and Lt. Jerome Richardson, a group averaging from 45 to 50 members, were organized and trained into a very active and valuable adjunct to our regular Police Department. Members of the Company received basic instruction in the use of firearms including rifles, shotguns and pistols — conventional and automatic. In addition, they were given infantry drill, manual of arms, police manual, riot drill, judo, first aid and instruction in the police action to be taken in the presence of unexploded bombs.

The entire Company meets regularly each Thursday night in Town Hall and achieved a very high re cord for percentage of attendance. The Company was divided up into platoons in military style and noncommissioned officers such as Sergeants and Corporals were appointed. In February, 1942, the Auxiliary Police Company completed their training and were sworn in as Special Police Officers for the Town of Ipswich, this rating being in addition to their status in the Civilian Defense Organization. In March of the same year, they commenced active duty in maintaining the “Neck Road Out post” where regularly thereafter, they checked each night on all cars and pedestrians proceeding to or leaving the Indian Hill. Great Neck and Little Neck areas.

Camp Agawam, photo courtesy of Bill George, who says that this WWII army camp was located off of Old England Road.
Camp Agawam, photo courtesy of Bill George. This WWII army camp was located off of Old England Road, and later became Heliotrope Christmas Tree farm.

“This Outpost was connected by telephone with Camp Agawam and was operated under the supervision of the Commanding Officer of this Camp. The nightly watch at the Neck Road Outpost was maintained continuously without let-up by the Auxiliary Police Company for twenty months, ending on November 2, 1943 when the responsibilities of this guard duty were taken over completely by the United States Army. The Ipswich Company of Auxiliary Police have performed many duties in Town and are available at all times for immediate call should an emergency arise or in connection with civic affairs to augment the regular Ipswich Police Force. The Commanding Officers and men are fully deserving of the praise and the thanks of the entire Town of Ipswich for the grand job they have done and are continuing to do whenever required.

“To date, this organization has put in 53,000 man hours of active duty, including the regular weekly drills. In spite of the letdown in Civilian Defense activities, they continue to maintain their high standards of efficiency and morale and continue to be an Organization in which the Town can take great pride and satisfaction. Not to skip over or lightly, treat the other protective services, it can be seen that inasmuch as the duties for which the Wardens, Medical Division, Telephonists, etc. were organized for emergency use only, frequent drills without other active service became boring and more or less unpopular. As a consequence, practice was reduced to a minimum. This does not mean, however, any lessening in their desire to serve, because all these volunteers will be immediately ready and capable of doing praiseworthy service should the necessity arise. Although practice blackouts and drills are now a rarity, the Town may feel fully confident that all the protection divisions have been well-trained and are prepared to cope with any disasters resulting from enemy action or sabotage.

“Except for a short period in which Howard N. Doughty turned the reins over to Samuel H. Eaton, he is still very much on the job and assisted by the deputies, George E. Matheson, Samuel W. Atherley, and Mrs. Eugene Matheson, remains alert to any need for protective action. The same may also be said for Charles A. Mallard, Chief of the Electrical Department and Frank E. Wood in charge of streets, rescue and demolitions. Considering the value and necessity of all these wartime Civilian Defense precaution and related services, the cost to the taxpayers of Ipswich has been exceedingly light for a town the size of ours. Of the $5,000.00 appropriated to carry on this work, only $3,295.33 was spent, leaving a balance of $1,750.89 to be turned back for other uses.

“Our greatest expense last year was for the purchase of winter uniforms for the Auxiliary Police. The amount spent, however, is trifling indeed compared to the value of the service received and which will be given in the months to come. The bulk of the other expense was for office rental, telephones, correspondence and service and supplies, many of which will be of use to the Town long after the war is over. Along with the apparent lessening in the danger of at tack, Civilian Defense precautions may be eased off further, thus reducing expense to a minimum.

“Of all the constructive work done by the various groups in the Civilian Defense Organization, none has been more effective than that turned in by the Social Service Division led by the hard-working and very able co-chairmen, the Misses Jane Bokron and Louise Bartnisky, and aided by a small group of conscientious and devoted assistants. Early in the year, the Social Service Division, on instructions from the State Administrator conducted an accurate and painstaking survey of the Town to determine the need for day nurseries to care for the children of working mothers. This survey group, led by Mr. Joseph Ross, found that while there was some need for some such arrangement plus a greater need for additional recreational facilities for teenagers, the demand was not sufficiently great to warrant the expense of their organization and maintenance. However, the knowledge and figures acquired by this survey are now available to the Town and should prove of considerable value should the need become more acute.

“The Social Service Division, with the aid and cooperation of the U. S. O. and military officials, also formulated plans for the recreation and entertain ment of local enlisted men and officers at Camp Agawam, plus visiting servicemen — Naval as well as Military. The importance of this work cannot be overestimated. The entertainment and dances each week were of value not alone as maintainers and builders of morale, but presented the soldiers with an opportunity of meeting the young ladies of the Town in proper fashion, resulting in acquaintanceship and friendships that took many of the men into Ipswich homes instead of wandering aimlessly around town or lolling in bars during their off hours. A great deal of praise is due to those citizens who opened up their homes for the entertainment of the officers and men as well as to the entire Social Service Committee.

“The most active and by far the most popular committee within the Civilian Defense Organization in 1943 was the Victory Garden Committee, directed by Mr. George Rose. Spurred on by the threat of stricter rationing and stimulated in addition by the thrill of raising one’s own food, people from all walks of life flocked to the Victory Garden lectures and educational movies. In a spirit of mutual help, information and ideas were exchanged on subjects ranging from the cultivation and fertilization of the soil right up to the preserving and canning operations — not to mention the keen interest in pigs and chickens.

Victory Garden poster
Begun during WWI, victory gardens reemerged during WWII. Food rationing was signed into law in 1942, and by 1944 over 20 million families were planting victory gardens, producing and estimated 40% of vegetables that were eaten by civilians.

Smaller divisional committees were set up to specialize on the different stages of vegetable gardening, canning and preserving as well as administrative, advisory and promotional committees. So well did each one do his work and so close was the general cooperation that even as early as June, it was a foregone conclusion that the autumn months would show a fine, satisfying record of food production, home canning and preserving. Rationing or no rationing, the enthusiasm for home gardening is such that the Victory Garden Committee will again carry through in the same spirit to even greater records in 1944.

“If this matter of “Popularity” should be put to a vote and the school children, especially, should have their say, top honors would go to the Canteen Service. On many of the practice drills and several rallies, including last September’s War Bond Parade, the Canteen Chairman Mrs. George Stevens and her fifteen to twenty-five assistants were present with coffee and doughnuts, or cold drinks in the hot weather. This kind of service was the more appreciated, because although the drills, etc. were merely practice, the need for refreshments was very real.

“Late in the Fall with the discontinuance of the Civilian branch of the Army Air Raid Warning Service, followed in a few weeks by a relaxation in the dim-out laws, general interest in Civilian Defense subsided considerably. However, the framework of our organization is still being held together until the Federal and State Authorities order us to disband. Consequently, the administration office will remain open to do routine clerical work, furnish information and perform administrative duties for all divisions.

“In closing this, which may well be the last detailed Civilian Defense Report, the writer wishes to acknowledge with deep and sincere gratitude the invaluable assistance given by the Vice Chairman, our genial Postmaster, Sylvester D. Conley. From the moment the writer took over the chairmanship and long before that, our entire organization from top to bottom has looked to him for counsel and despite his modestly declining the credit, everyone will agree that he has been and still is the keystone of our organization.

“There are in addition, a score or more others deserving of recognition and commendation, but as the instructions for “brevity” in this report have already been overextended, let each hard-working and loyal volunteer fully realize that his or her work is greatly appreciated.”

Respectfully submitted, John E. Gill, Chairman Ipswich Civilian Defense Committee

To build tanks, ships, and planes during WWII, scrap metal drives were held across the country, and Ipswich was no exception. The location is Market Square across from Market Street.


2 thoughts on “The Ipswich Company, Massachusetts State Guard, 1942”

  1. What a nice peek into the past……I can barely remember my dad doing something with the state guard. I can remember having to turn off all the lights in our home on 69 central st. And someone would patrol the streets to make sure no lights were showing. Seems strange now but that part I can remember. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen those pictures and it’s remarkable to see the names of so many familiar family’s that I would grow old with. Thanks for the memory’s ….Jim Martel

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