It is almost impossible to describe how
much WWII affected everyone’s life. Very few families in Pacolet and
other South Carolina towns were not touched by it. Many, many men and,
lots of women, went into military service. A number of men from Pacolet
were in combat and several were killed in action.
During the War, many families flew a small white flag with a red border
outside their door. The flag had a blue star for each man in service
from that family. If the man were killed, then the flag flew a gold
star. For this reason, women who had lost a son in service were called
“Gold Star Mothers.”
For the duration of the War, almost everything was rationed and hard to
get. This included most food, gasoline, tires, shoes and many other
things. Ration books were distributed by the Government and to buy
something you not only needed the money but a ration coupon or stamp
item to allow you to buy it.
Examples of a ration book
and ration stamps.
Communication, during the War, was quite different than it is today.
There were very few telephones. The most common way to correspond was
through letters. Letters to and from soldiers overseas were via
“V-Mail”. Letters were reduced in size through being photographed. The
resulting film could be shipped overseas much easier that the original
letters. The film was printed out as a reduced size letter to deliver
to the service man.
Examples of a V-Mail Letter
Another common way to communicate was the use of
the telegram via Western Union. Telegrams were delivered by a Western
Union Messenger in a specially marked car.
The sight of a Western Union messenger became a dreaded sight as the
War went on. The US War Department used telegrams to notify families
that a family member had been wounded, was missing in action, or killed
in combat. Every family with someone in the service in combat feared
getting one of these telegrams that usually started “Regret
to inform you ”.
Copy of a telegram
notifying family that soldier had been wounded in action.
The US was only in the War for four years from 1941 to 1945 but for
most people from that time, it seemed much longer. Even families that
did not have someone in service had their lives disrupted by the War.
My Dad went to work in the Charleston Navy Yard only a month after
Pearl Harbor and my family moved to North Charleston. We lived there
until the end of the War. My wife’s Dad, Bill McKinney, was a carpenter
and went to Oak Ridge, Tennessee to work on a secret project. It turned
out to be the facility that made one of the atomic bombs that was
dropped on Japan to help end the War.
being launched at the Charleston Naval Shipyard on June 30, 1945.
Shipyard workers were still working on the ship as it was being
launched. My Dad, Fred (Doog) Teaster, was a shipfitter and is one of
the people in the gun ring in the front of the ship. As an eight year
old, I saw this ship during a Shipyard Open House, the day before it
There were signs of the War close to Pacolet. Camp
Croft, the huge training base, was only a few miles away. It
brought new jobs and new people to the area. The sound of the artillery
at the camp could be heard in Pacolet day and night.
Nowadays, with a small volunteer army, many people do not know anyone
in service. However, in WWII, we had the draft and about 13 million men
served in the military and it was a certainty that you knew someone in
the service. It was almost a near certainty, that you also had a
relative in uniform.
Volume II of a History
Pacolet tells the story of men from Pacolet that were taken
as Prisoners of War. Read their stories at POW.
As far as we know, there are no first hand accounts left by any of the
Pacolet POW's. However, there is a detailed story left by a similar
South Carolina soldier who was a POW. That remarkable man was
Cordray from Ravenel, South Carolina. Lolace was the
father of my son-in-law, Michael Cordray. In is youth, Lolace, had an
experience that most of us can barely
imagine. In 1988, my daughter, Laura Teaster Vaughan, interviewed
Lolace about his POW experience for a college history project at
Charleston Southern University. You can read his story at Lolace V. Corday - A Prisoner of War in Germany.
are sorry to
report that Lolace passed away in July of 2012. His wife of 60+ years,
Etheline Grooms Cordray, had died less than three months before.)
An Unusual Connection
Strange things happen during wartime. There is a little known
connection between Pacolet and the Propaganda effort of the Nazi
Government during WWII. Click
on this link to learn more.