sm AO logo

Where Were You During WW II?
Presentation to the Annandale History Club
February 2, 2015
Al Ostlund

Al Ostlund has been attending Annandale History Club since the very first meeting in 1991 and helps plan the programs.  Al also volunteers at Pioneer Park, Kiwanis, and Annandale Schools.

On September 3, 1939, Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany, beginning World War II.  On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the American Naval base at Pearl Harbor.  On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan.  On December 11, 1941 the United States declared war on Germany.  

On May 8, 1945, V-E Day was declared—Victory in Europe.  On August 15, 1945, V-J Day was declared – Victory over Japan.

Al’s presentation was about some of the activities in Annandale that contributed to the war effort.  There was ready acceptance of the need for sacrifice to achieve victory.  

Brian Partridge brought to the meeting a list of 186 Annandale graduates who served during World War II.  There were 11 women on the list.  The “Roll of Honor” was compiled by the Class of 1945 on a scroll. Brian said the scroll was recently discovered in a storage room in the 1922 school before the building’s demolition.  There were many more service members from Annandale who did not graduate from Annandale High School. 

The Annandale Advocate documented news about servicemen – draftees, enlistees, assignments, those missing, wounded and killed.  Most Americans followed news of war through three sources:  radio broadcasts, newspapers, and newsreels.  War newsreels were shown before movies.  President Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats were on the radio until 1944.

Gold Star Mothers – A Blue Star was displayed in the window for a service member in the military.  The Blue Star was covered with a Gold Star for a service member who died in service.   American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. has been a national organization since 1928.

Letters from home were a source of comfort and inspiration to soldiers, and the home folks looked forward to letters from their service members.  There was great concern for family members and friends at war.  The news that a service member was injured or killed came in the form of a Western Union telegram that arrived at the Annandale train depot for hand delivery by a courier: “The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret…”  

The government introduced rationing because certain things were in short supply during the war, and rationing was the only way to make sure everyone got their fair share.  War ration books and tokens were issued to each American family dictating how much gasoline, tires, sugar, meat, silk, shoes, nylons and other items any one person could buy.  Rationing boards were created to administer these restrictions.

The dated news articles are from the Annandale Advocate unless otherwise noted.


October 1, 1942:  The meeting for the scrap metal drive held in Annandale Tuesday night was attended by a good representative crowd of businessmen, and by chairmen of nearby townships.  W.C. Hawkinson, local chairman, opened the meeting by giving the necessity of carrying on a campaign and appointing committeemen.  The date was set for Oct. 15 when Annandale business places will lock their doors and spend the day in assembling scrap throughout the vicinity.  The school will close and boys will also assist in this work.

October 22, 1942:  The campaign carried on to collect scrap metal in the Annandale community last Thursday resulted in gathering about 219 tons that day, with 40 to 50 tons piled at points in the outlying community, which was picked up later by trucks.  With the area doing its part, press reports also indicate that other sections are working to contribute their share to the nation’s 17,000,000-ton scrap pile, which must be raised by the end of the year if the nation’s steel mills are to keep going at full speed all winter.

December 3, 1942:  Tin cans needed.  The acute shortage of tin for the war effort is becoming more critical each day.  The return of the lowly tin can from the home is the largest domestic source of tin.

Each tin can returned to the grocer for collection yields 1 percent tin and 99 percent usable steel.

July 8, 1943:  License plates for 1942 have been reused for 1943…as a war necessity, because the federal

government has forbade the  use of steel except for the small year tabs.


September 30, 1943:  The most intensive campaign to collect scrap iron and steel since Pearl Harbor will

get underway to gather up more than half million tons for the nation’s steel mills.  Where problems arise

in bringing in the scrap, county salvage officials will be in a position to suggest solutions.  They will also

continue checking area farms to make sure that all available scrap is put into community “Victory Scrap



May 4, 1944:  Residents are encouraged to leave their clean and flattened tin cans at Broberg’s Grocery.

The cans will be picked up by a grocery truck to deliver the tin that will be salvaged and used for the war





October 14, 1943:  Attention citizens!  The government urgently needs your waste paper.  It is used to

make powder kegs, bomb bands, containers for foodstuffs for the armed forces, and other weapons of

war.  There will be a drive to collect all waste paper in Annandale and the surrounding countryside this

Saturday, October 23.


April 27, 1944:  On Thursday, May 4, the Annandale school buses will be collecting scrap paper and rags along their routes during the afternoon.  Collections made by the Annandale Chapter of Future Farmers and the Annandale Improvement Club.


November 5, 1942:  So far, the items being rationed for the war effort are gas, sugar, coffee and fuel oil.

January 1, 1943:  Saturday through Tuesday has brought the coldest temperatures in seven years, with lows at about 30 below and highs around 15 below.  Motorists had trouble starting their cars, private

motor traffic was the lowest in years and trains were delayed.  Oil-rationed householders worried over coupon troubles, and coal dealers had a jump in orders. 

January 7, 1943:  Many rationing dates are going into effect, including the five percent Victory tax.  Also, the first coffee rationing coupon tax is effective Jan. 3.  The War Rationing Book No. 1 deadline is Jan. 15.

January 14, 1943:  Except for the growing number of stars in service flags, few outward signs reveal that we in this community are engaged in the grimmest sort of war.  The Annandale Co-op Creamery, however, says it is gearing nearly all our daily efforts to meeting the needs of war.

March 11, 1943:  If you think all these warnings about guarding against accidents or breakdowns to your car are just so much pish-tosh, listen to this.  The state highway department has been searching for badly needed auto repair parts, but a high number of otherwise sound vehicles are likely out of commission for the duration of the war because of a shortage of repair parts.  The state is even scrounging for parts for vehicles as vital as highway patrol cars, so the private owner can gain a pretty fair idea of what chance he would have of getting repairs if he lets his car become disabled through slipshod servicing or carelessness leading to an accident.

February 2, 1943:  Recommendations for housewives direct them to make an inventory of all commercially processed food in containers of eight ounces or more in their pantry stock and report to a rationing board.  This is part of the process to receive War Ration Book No. 2.  No canned fruits or vegetables will be sold in grocery stores between Feb. 20 and March 1 as America prepares to go on the point rationing system.

Victory Gardens – During World War II, Victory Gardens were planted by families in the Unites States (the Home Front) to help prevent a food shortage.  Because canned goods were rationed, Victory Gardens helped people stretch their ration coupons.  At their peak more than 20 million victory gardens were planted across the United States.     

March 26, 1943:  Butter stocks of local creameries and grocery stores were depleted Sunday night after the buying stampede that afternoon.  The rush followed a radio announcement at 2 p.m. that butter sales would be frozen at midnight.  Creameries will not be able to replenish the stores until March 29, when rationing starts and butter will be allowed on points.

April 22, 1943:  The poor condition of Highway 55 west of Buffalo has resulted in no bus service to Annandale.  With no daylight train service, no trains on Sunday, no buses, and gas and tire limitations on motorists, travelers along the highway are practically stranded as far as transportation is concerned.

July 22, 1943:  W.S. Ives Lumber Co. of Annandale reports in an advertisement that lumber is scarce because the military is using about 60 percent of the nation’s total lumber production.  The ad advises area residents to conserve lumber and use other materials where possible.  “We are all trying to do everything we can to help win this war,” the company says.


October 22, 1942:  T.G. Driscoll, State Office of Price Administration director, announced today registration for gasoline ration

November 12, 1942:  Gas registration for the village of Annandale and Corinna Township will be held at the Annandale Public School.

The following is from the internet.

The national maximum Victory Speed was 35 miles per hour, and carpools were encouraged.  The main idea was to conserve rubber, as well as gasoline.  Every citizen, military or civilian was to do their part.  To get your classification and ration stamps, you had to certify to a local board that you needed gas and owned no more than five tires.

By the end of 1942, half of the U.S. automobiles were issued an ‘A’ sticker which allowed 4 gallons of fuel per week.  The ‘A’ sticker was for owners whose use of their cars was nonessential.  ‘A’ stickered cars were not to be driven for pleasure at all.

The green ‘B’ sticker was for driving deemed essential to the war effort.  Industrial war workers, for example could purchase 8 gallons a week.

Red ‘C’ sticker was for physicians, ministers, mail carriers and railroad workers.

‘T’ stickers were for truckers.  Truckers supplying the population with supplies had ‘T’ stickers for unlimited amounts of fuel.

The rare ‘X’ sticker went to members of Congress and other VIPs.

The sticker was affixed to the windshield and the reverse side visible to the occupants said, “Is this trip really necessary?  Share your car.  To save tires, drive under 35.”


The first non-food item rationed was rubber.  The Japanese had seized plantations in the Dutch East Indies that produced 90% of America’s raw rubber.  President Roosevelt called on citizens to help by contributing scrap rubber to be recycled: old tires, old rubber raincoats, garden hoses, rubber shoes, bathing caps.  Mileage rations could be denied to anyone owning passenger tires not in use.

June 25, 1942:  On Saturday, June 27, the Boy Scouts will call on each and every home in Annandale to collect any scrap rubber not already turned in.


April 15, 1943:  Everyone is urgently requested to take the old silk and nylon stockings to the salvage box at either Jude’s or Federated Store.

1946 United Press headline:  Expect few nylons until late in 1947.


Before the war, seed pods from the kapok tree in Indonesia provided filling for life jackets.  When the Japanese captured the East Indies in 1942, the kapok supply was cut off.  Milkweed floss, six times more buoyant than cork, turned out to be a good substitute.  “Save a life.  Pick Pods for Victory,” was the rallying cry.  School children, including Lake Francis School in French Lake Township, collected milkweed in bags for the war effort.


January 22, 1942:  Another draft sign-up will be held on Feb. 16.  Men between the ages of 20 and 44 have been ordered to register for selective services. 

November 1942:  On Nov. 11, 1942, Congress approves lowering the draft age to 18 and raising the upper limit to age 37, increasing the number of draftees.  During the first draft in 1940, 50 percent were rejected for health reasons and 20 percent of those who registered were illiterate.

Wikipedia:  In the massive draft of World War II, 50 million men from 18-45 were registered, 36 million classified, and 10 million inducted.


April 29, 1943:  Annandale has exceeded its quota in the second war bond drive.  The city has pledged $26,405.  Surrounding areas and their pledges include Clearwater at $3,000, Corinna Township at $17,000 and French Lake Township at $9,000.  Reports were not available from South Haven or Southside Township.

September 2, 1943:  Our government is asking Americans for $15 billion more in the third war loan to back the attack.  “Citizens of Annandale will do their part in this tremendous task,” writes Annandale Mayor Walter Lundeen.  “All of us, no matter what walk of life we come from, are fully aware of the urgency of putting our full weight back of the invasion.”

January 27, 1944:  The Annandale Public Schools helped with the fourth war loan drive.  During the first three days of the drive, $1,326.35 of stamps and bonds were sold to the students of the school.  This amount adds to the grand total of $3,219.85 since Sept. 1.  The goal of this drive was to raise the equivalent amount of a Jeep, which is $1,165.

January 27, 1944:  Do you want to go to a free movie at the Grand Theatre?  If you sign a pledge to buy a fourth war bond on or before Feb. 4, you will receive one free admission to “My Gal Sal.”


January 1, 1942:  The Red Cross War Relief Drive starts in Annandale this week.  The town has made a goal of raising $370 to go towards the war relief effort.  “This drive is absolutely necessary to enable the Red Cross to provide relief for the homeless and wounded air raid victims in the Pacific Island,” states Chairman Lungwitz.  Along with donations, Mrs. Ridgway and Miss LaBaron are collecting clothing articles for the relief as well.  

July 8, 1943:  Mrs. Colin McDonald, Mrs. N.A. Runquist, Miss Annie LeBaron, Mrs. Elsie Hoffman and Mrs. Henry Hill have earned Red Cross pins for putting in at least 100 hours work in knitting, sewing and surgical dressings.

July 29, 1943:  Clearwater sent quite a representation of blood donors to St. Cloud on Friday.  Everyone is happy to do all they can.

May 13, 1943:  Quite a lot of excitement was noticed around the Blood Bank Mobile Unit that visited Annandale on Wednesday when the fact became known that one of the workers was the famous Dimitri Mitropoulos, leader of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.  The Greek native is only able to correspond with his children in Greece through the Red Cross, and so donates the four months he has off every year to helping that organization.

June 24, 1943:  Over 50 women have signed with the local Red Cross unit to make surgical dressings to be used for front line wounded.  It is of vital importance that every woman who can spare that time should register for this work.  The dressings being made are shipped directly to the battle fronts throughout the world and are badly needed in caring for the wounded.

September 23, 1943:  Busy hands, busy people!  Many home duties are being left till a later date, while area housewives perform their duties for the fighting men.  New recruits at their surgical dressing classes last week were Olga Houghton, Lorrayne Danielson, Ruby Schmidt and Lois Danielson.  Last week’s dressings numbered 1,500.  To date, 8,620 dressings, large and small, have been turned in.


January 7, 1943:  Wright County Farm Mobilization Day is January 12.  The county USDA War Board has made arrangements for the meeting with the express purpose of more production.  More food is needed for laborers in the war industries.  Men in the armed forces are eating more food and more food is being shipped to allies.

September 9, 1943:  “You can help win the war.  The government wants to conserve and salvage all material vital to war needs,” reads an advertisement from the Annandale Dead Animal Service.  “Dead or disabled horses, cows, hogs, calves and sheep removed free.  Call promptly.”

Note:  Congress enacted deferments for farmers and farm workers who were “necessary” and regularly engaged in an agriculture occupation.  Later the government even allowed German and Italian prisoners of war (POWs) to be used as farm labor.


March 19, 1943:  The public is asked to respond to a renewed plea for books to be sent to our men in the service.  There has grown an increasing demand for books that the men may read during their hours of relaxation.  All kinds of novels, biographies, mystery stories, and all books that readers have found of interest, are wanted in immense quantities.  Donations should be made to the public library at once.


May 6, 1943:  Wright County lost 19.3 percent of its population from April 1940 to May 1942, the heaviest loss of any county in the state.  Overall, the state averaged a 4 percent drop.  The reduction is attributed to inroads made by selective service and employment in defense plants.

April 4, 1943:  Lillian Carstensen has become the new milk maid for the Buffalo Co-op Creamery and now drives the milk truck daily.  She is the first woman in this community to take up work of driving a truck to replace a man in service.  She is an expert driver and kept the truck running through snow-bound streets during the recent blizzard.  Because of the manpower shortage throughout the country, which is also becoming evident here, women are being called on to take up civilian duties in man’s workday world.

Note:  Women found employment as electricians, welders and riveters in defense plants.

April 1, 1943:  Annandale graduate Irma (Lorentz) Face received a lengthy write-up in an eastern newspaper because she is in charge of recruiting nurses for the military in Maryland.  She also teaches first aid to elementary-age students, runs a home-nursing course for women, and helps with eye examinations of public school students.  “She has proved that women with children … can do a lot on the home front even though they are maidless,” said the Advocate.  “She does all her own housework and has the meals on the dot when her husband … arrives home for dinner.”

During wartime:  A decorative hand fan compliments of Early American Friendship Garden, a fragrance for women by Shulton, Inc., the manufacturer of Old Spice, had these words:  “We the Women of America, in Freedom we work, in Freedom we live.  To keep ourselves Free, we’re ready to give by buying War Bonds and Stamps, by writing to our men, by community work,  by using every minute, by holding our tongues, by guarding children, by keeping our spirit, by saving every scrap, by clever cooking, we’ll keep ourselves Free.


December 19, 1941:  Litchfield Independent -   After a vacation trip along the blacked-out Pacific coast, Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Sederstrom arrived home Thursday.  They reported there is a tragic undercurrent to life out there due to the blackouts, shut-off radios and other inconveniences to an area which is under martial law.  The Sederstroms were in the West Coast when war was declared.     

April 22, 1943:  Victory aids throughout the Northwest will soon begin distributing a new government booklet entitled “Personal Message.”  It is designed to bring home to everyone the danger that goes with loose talk concerning matters of interest to enemy spies.  Mrs. Marion McDonald is chairman of the local Victory Aid committee.

May 13, 1943:  BLACKOUT TEST IN ANNANDALE:  Residents of Annandale experienced a blackout test Friday night.  Chief Air Raid Warden Ralph Sather reports that with few exceptions, everything went off to perfection.  The exceptions were some rubbish fires, a few homes where people had forgotten and left children at home alone, or people who did not understand the meaning of the warning siren.  The next blackout test will be a total surprise.

August 19, 1943:  A service bar was recently awarded to Mrs. Colin McDonald by the state.  This is the highest award given in Wright County and is symbolic of 1,000 hours or active service in the County Civilian Defense work.

May 20, 1943:  A recent ruling of the U.S. Department of the Interior says that a person applying for an explosives license must also submit affidavits of two non-related citizens who will make statements as to the reliability of the applicant, his loyalty to the United States and his need for a license.  Those witnesses and the applicant must also appear in person before the Wright County licensing agent.

Note:  Guards were stationed at each end of the railroad trestle bridge between South Haven and Kimball.   Ken Rudolph’s uncle, Herman Kiehn, was one of the guards at the bridge.


The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League started in 1943, when many male major leaguers were away fighting World War II.  It ceased operation after the 1954 season.   The Minneapolis Millerettes played during the 1944 season.  (StarTribune)


“The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 is better known as the GI Bill.  Under its provisions, Uncle Sam offered to cover the cost of tuition, textbooks and living expenses for every veteran who had been on active duty for at least 90 days.  The benefits were more than a sign of the nation’s gratitude to its troops.  Worried that the postwar economy would be unable to absorb 15 million returning veterans, Congress passed legislation to keep them busy, productive and out of the job market.  The bill also had far-reaching unintended consequences.  By providing broader access to higher education, it propelled many servicemen and women into the middle class.”  (StarTribune, Nov. 11, 2014)

Compiled from the Annandale Advocate Archive columns and other sources by the Annandale History Club Secretary