Difficulties in Learning of Our Fallen Pelicans

Collecting information for Loomis during wartime was very difficult. We don’t know exactly where to look, there are no specific diaries for Loomis Faculty members, all we have are collections of yearbooks and a giant library of archives that could hopefully help us but where do we start looking. Yearbooks offer more about the students then the faculty, and it seems like war didn’t have enough of an impact to affect a faculty member’s life, or if it did we have struggled to find any evidence of it. All I have found are little snippets that show a more wartime culture in the community. For example, there were the officers of Loomis Battalion; its popularity showed through the numbers of students that participated. It looks well put together but I’m not entirely sure what it is, who started it, what they do, etc. I would love to find out more information about the Officers of Loomis Battallion and maybe look into its specific members and titles of each individual, but I wouldn’t know where to look for this research. Maybe we can look at those who died during World War II and follow just their careers at Loomis, find their yearbooks and the clubs they were involved in etc. I think this would give us a more direct way of guidance and would have more structure. We can pursue a deeper memorial for one of the students who died serving his country. The question is which student do we choose. Below is an example of a student we might pursue in our research.

Usually when you think of high school, you think of good times, a little stress here and there, and getting into the right college. The boys at Loomis during the 1930s through the 1940s had slightly more on their plate. By the time World War II had come around, the boys of Loomis had been fully entrenched in the war efforts. Specifically, many of them sitting on the front lines during the European campaign. Many young, overwhelmingly talented and intellectual Loomis boys did not see their full potential as they were sent overseas to fight in war. Some of the boys from the Loomis class of 1941 lost their lives fighting for their country. These young men had bright futures before the war, looking to attend universities and colleges such as Yale, Connecticut, Cornell, Amherst and Williams. Top tier athletes and full fledged keystones in the Loomis community were going from Loomis First Football Team captain to a Private in the 9th Infantry Division fighting in France.[1] Douglas Richard Metcalfe Osborn of Poquonock, CT was one of these Loomis boys of the class of 41’ who lost his life in battle overseas. A day student, a member of numerous clubs and managed numerous sports teams as well. Douglas, or “Ozzie”, was not the physical type of young man you would expect to see be a part of the military. However, one asset he did have was his shooting skills. While most soldiers drafted during World War II tended to be remedial in their skills entering the war, Ozzie had a plethora of experience. Ozzie participated on the Rifle Team at Loomis all four years he was at the school, even being Vice President during his senior year.[2] Ozzie died fighting for his country in North Western Europe only a few years after his graduation from Loomis, not being able to pursue his studies at the University of Connecticut. He is honored today in Founders along with his fellow Loomis students and faculty who lost their lives during the war.

Having looked through the Loomis Alumni Bulletin of 1945, it’s easy to tell that throughout the years of the war there were significant changes being made on campus. Along with several Loomis faculty members leaving to fight in the war, remarkable changes were made on campus and in the classrooms as well. Students all throughout campus (particularly students who didn’t participate in athletics) had to make up for the shortage of labor and partake in tasks such as disposing leaves, care for gardens, taking care of the tennis courts, and chopping and delivering firewood. The teachers of the math and science departments at the time were asked for assistance to teach the theory of aeronautics and radio as well as their regularly scheduled courses. English teachers have to make up for the much needed rest of teachers in the history department, and faculty members all across campus have to pick up extra shifts in order to make up for the lack of hands. Members of the Loomis community such as John Burns, John Dorman, and Thomas Finley are only some of the faculty that served on the front. These men, as well as John W. Case, John H. Wheeler, and William C. Newbold, are glorified in the bulletin and some even have obituaries written in their names, respectively.

[1] Loomis Yearbook 1941

[2] War Memorial fallen faculty and students in Founders

[3] Loomis Alumni Bulletin 1945


Loomis as a Microcosm?

Public opinion translates into public memory. To understand how and why the Loomis School memorialized World War One, one must understand the perceptions of those who experienced the war first-hand.

What could a hermit and a prep school community have in common? Peter Edelbauer, living isolated and unaware of World War 1 in the woods of southeast Germany, still undoubtedly felt the effects of the war. In the words of Roger Chickering, “The war embraces all.” [1] If a hermit in Germany could not escape the shadow of the global conflict, neither could a prep school in New England. The Loomis School was no exception. In a way, the students on “The Island” were like the hermit; they lived separately from the rest of the world in the protective bubble of Windsor, Connecticut. Knowledge trickled into the campus, and often the only source of news came in the form of of the Loomis Log. In communities where the stream of information is limited and monopolized, the individual sentiment becomes a collective one. For this reason, the absence of a stories pertaining to World War I in the Loomis Log is just as notable as the inclusion of one, as it reflects the non-importance of these events for the Loomis Community. The Loomis Log aided in creating a perception of World War I.  

The Loomis School often acted as a microcosm of the United States, with its faculty and students opinions mirroring those of the general population. Both the school and the country carried and paraded around its own banner for democracy. It was a common-held view that Loomis was “made a spectacle unto the world” [2] as the testing ground for the first student run government, not unlike The United States itself.

Before the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915, the Great War seemed a distant european conflict, and one that the american population had no intention of entering into. The sentiment of isolationism was reiterated by Reverend VonOgden, during one Loomis Sunday Service, “[who] showed the difference between a man who has power to hold himself off from his fellows temporarily and view them as one would a play.” And The United States viewed the european theater in this way, from afar, before the war became an issue of its own national security.

The perception of World War One changed after May 7th. The war no longer seemed so for away. War columns like Three Hours in the Trenches and Professional Man appeared with increasing frequency in the Loomis Log. America and Loomis had essentially “wok[en] up to the pressing need of preparedness” as they “had seen what a dangerous predicament our beloved country would be in time of invasion and peril.” [3]

Excerpts from the Loomis Log, 1916

But at the outset of the US involvement with the war, there had always been hesitancy. Within the Loomis Community, faculty took precaution not to stir up a furor of patriotism. In fact, in a faculty meeting, Mr. Batchelder suggested “a conservative attitude whenever the matter of enlistment comes up.” [4] The matter of sending Loomis boys to war was met with careful consideration. The schools wanted neither to antagonize the war effort, for sake of seeming unpatriotic, nor encourage enlistment, for it was the duty of the school to “teach the good students to be the leaders of the coming generation,” [5] as the cultivators of the next generation.

[1] Roger Chickering, Imperial Germany and the Great War

[2] Loomis Log, Vol. I, April 1916 No.18

[3] Loomis Log Vol. 1, May 1916 No.22

[4] Faculty Meeting Minutes, The Loomis School, April 15, 1918, Loomis Chaffee School Archives.

[5] Faculty Meeting Minutes, The Loomis School, Jan 7, 1918, Loomis Chaffee School Archives.


Changes on Campus During World War II

Hello, and welcome to Changes on Campus During World War II! We are excited to begin our research on the many changes at Loomis during WWII. In this blog, we (Nancy, Austin, and Rachel) will explore and present our findings each day. Enjoy!

Day One: On day one of research, we started searching through Archives and were happy to find many interesting Log issues, yearbooks, and student handbooks from WWII. Before diving in too deep, we created a list of our interests and some questions to ask. Some of our questions included:

  • How did Loomis modify its Dining Hall menu to accommodate the war?
  • How were school uniforms and clothing affected by WWII?
  • Were any war-specific classes and activities added to the Loomis curriculum?
  • How did the female experience of WWII in the Chaffee school differ from the male experience in Loomis?
  • How did other area prep schools experience the war similarly or differently?

Also on our first day, we obtained a list of archivists from other area prep schools. We began contacting them in order to learn about how the lives of students during WWII were similar or different to the lives of Loomis students. We hope to blog about their responses in another post soon.

Day Two:

On day two of research, we studied items from Archives in depth and took many pictures and notes to include in our blog. In order to share our findings, we have each written blog entries for you to enjoy!

We started our research by reading The Loomis Log newspaper articles from 1942-1943. It was quite interesting to see how our school’s newspaper has changed! We came across many fascinating articles about wartime courses at Loomis. The first article located is called “Older Students Train Under State Guard Men.” It describes a new activity at Loomis to help students prepare for war. The course was extremely popular, but only a little over 90 students who would be draft age by June were admitted. Students did drills 4 times a week, some including running for over an hour through even the muddiest fields in the rain! The article mentioned that the course was designed by a teacher named Mr. Britton. By doing a little more searching through other Log articles, I found that Mr. Britton was a French and Biology teacher who also organized the Aerodynamic course. We wondered what other impacts Mr. Britton made on Loomis! To wrap up his article, the author eloquently states, “These boys are the future soldiers. In the hands of youths like them rests our country’s safety.”

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Above: Article from 1942-1943 Log issue.

We were interested in learning what other things may have changed at Loomis, due to the war. So, we pursued additional sources to find some answers. In several yearbooks that we located, dating from 1939-1940, we found some interesting material leading up to the height of the war. We discovered that the war had caused a shortage of faculty. Work that was previously done by faculty, was being done by students. Seniors were needed to proctor study halls and upperclassmen even started their own tutoring service to help fill the roles of the missing teachers. Loomis boys also helped out around school by cleaning dishes, shoveling snow, moving coal, and collecting scrap metal. “Senior boys have assumed supervision of all study periods, and some have served as tutors to younger boys to fill, in some degree, the places of teachers in service.” (Loomis catalog 1942-1943) When looking back at the responsibility and initiative that these boys took during this time, many must have felt inspired by them. Mr. B, who at this time was headmaster said, “We’re putting first things first.” In 1940, interscholastic sports were cut because of the shortage in faculty, as well as the rationing of resources like gasoline and tires. We truly can’t imagine the outrage and frustration that this change would cause today.

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 Above: James Peale Page who served in war in 1940-1943. Picture featured in 1939-1940 yearbook.

Flipping back through the pages of the Log issues from 1942-1943, we came across another interesting article entitled “Future Inductees Try Hard Commando Course.” This article discusses yet another course to prepare students for war. Although the details had not yet been finalized, all the Loomis boys were excited and eager to sign up– demonstrating students’ willingness and desire to join the war.  It also reflected the school’s commitment to supporting the students’ wishes and interests. According to Loomis Chaffee’s current archivist, the head of school during WWII insisted that teachers and faculty did not romanticize the war, but instead depict the hardships, struggle, and hardwork faced in battle. Loomis’ tough training courses carried out this mission perfectly. The article discusses a challenging obstacle course that had to be completed and timed by the “future inductees.” The course included running, doing the duck walk, climbing over a 7 foot wall, climbing a wide ladder, navigating a maze, and finally, a long crawl on the stomach. This exercise was intended to be similar to training conditions during the war.

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Above: Article from 1942-1943 Log issue.

Following up on our questions about the adjustments that The Loomis School made during this time, we found that many challenges were faced in athletics. In 1933 until 1940, the amount of athletic activities at Loomis were drastically reduced. Schedules were cut down and teams were eliminated. Transportation issues became a major cause as to why Loomis athletics had trouble maintaining teams. The rationing of gas made it difficult to travel in buses. Loomis, at the time, used regular school busses that often were not energy efficient. In one case, after a track meet, it was reported that students were forced to walk back the last three miles back to school because the bus ran out of gas. This was one of many incidents that impacted Loomis actives during war time.  

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Above: Drills that were performed 4 times a week


Introduction to Student Experience at Loomis During World War II

During World War II, a time of immense confusion and turmoil on the American home front, Loomis Chaffee and its young students put in enormous effort to help the Windsor community, the war effort, and those most affected by war.  However, could students truly help if they were not on the battlefield?  The answer to this question was a definitive yes.

        Students fervently accepted employment at farms to help support scarce food resources, accelerated or put on hold their classes to fight for the United States, and, importantly, expressed their often-impassioned opinions regarding Word War II.  One student strongly asserted, “You help kill a man everytime you waste a nickel.  If you’re not buying war bonds, you’re killing the soldiers”.[1]

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A United States World War II war bond [5]

            An April 1945, Loomis Log article describes that students picked over 50,000 bushels of potatoes during the school year, and four times as many students participated in the tasks than the year prior.  The writer stated, “Efficient planning and good organization from above and hearty cooperation among student workers has resulted in a fine record”.[2]  It was incredible that students could duly focus on school, community service, and the stresses of war during this period.

    Loomis also prepared its students for the war effort, and established the, “Loomis Military Drill Unit”, where students were introduced to the, “basic ideas of military courtesy and the manual of arms”.[3]  Many Loomis students were recruited by both the Navy and local Connecticut towns like Milford, as both the military and farmers needed able bodies desperately.

      Specifically, we have discovered interesting information about the namesake of the “Carey” room in the snug. Fred Moody Carey (‘39) and James Clayton Carey (‘40) were brothers and students at Loomis during World War II. After graduating, they enlisted in the United States Army Air Force, both First Lieutenants of the 11th bomber squadron. On June 20th, 1945, 23 year-old James and 24 year old Fred were deployed on a mission to destroy multiple bridges in Indochina. James piloted a B-25J plane with Fred as his co-pilot. While bombing at a low altitude, the Carey plane appeared to fly out of control and crashed near a target bridge in Quang Tri, Vietnam.[4] James and Fred each received the purple heart and air medal to honor their service to the country. The brothers were originally buried in Honolulu, Hawaii, but were later repatriated  to the Long Island National Cemetery in New York.

Left: Carey headstone in Long Island Cemetery    Right: article about and picture of Carey brothers’ mission

Images: Findagrave.com Lieut James C Carey

        The incredible efforts of students acted as the glue that held Connecticut and the country as a whole together.  They served as more than merely numbers; students diplomatically expressed their opinions on the war and were great motivators for the American war effort.

[1] The Loomis Chaffee Log, October 28th, 1944

[2] The Loomis Chaffee Log, April, 1945

[3] The Loomis Chaffee Log, May 18th, 1945

[4] Findagrave.com: Lieut James C Carey

[5] http://armedforcesmuseum.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/US-Bond-1-WS.jpg




Bradley Field and the Windsor Airmen of World War II

Whether you are traveling internationally for vacation, flying across country for a business trip, or perhaps visiting your great aunt in Wisconsin, if you live in Connecticut you will most likely find yourself flocking to Bradley International Airport to kickoff your getaway trip. As we run through terminals and fight through security praying not to miss our flights, the rich wartime history of what was previously known as the Windsor Locks Air Base is most likely the last thought that scurries through your mind.

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Bradley Field, Photographed 1946 Post-World War II

Bradley Field’s construction was completed in July of 1941, while the United States still remained neutral in the War. Following the establishment of Bradley Field, airmen flooded to Windsor and the surrounding areas, this steep change led to a housing shortage that led to local Windsor and Windsor Locks families taking in single airmen.

Upon the installment of the Windsor Locks Air Base, the reality of war was quickly realized. Deaths were no longer exclusive to the immediate war. Just a few days following his arrival to Windsor, Eugene Bradley died during a training exercise on the base. Subsequently, the field was renamed in Bradley’s honor. Unfortunately, however, death in the training field was not limited solely to Bradley.

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Army Air Corps Second Lieutenant Eugene Bradley

As we travelled to Windsor Locks, CT this past week to the New England Air Museum, we received a first hand glimpse at the reality of the War and the role Windsor and its men played. Johnny and I found ourselves extremely intrigued by many aspects of the museum as the knowledge our visit afforded us led to us to possessing even deeper questions on our subject matter of the role of wartime Windsor. We now began to wonder; why was Windsor chosen to play such a large role in the United States air defense and artillery? We also began to wonder more about the lives of the young men who flocked to Bradley Field and if their training brought a source of fear and reality of the war due to the dangerous nature.

Primarily used for aerial defense of New England during World War II, Bradley Field also played a vital role in training and preparing pilots and airmen. Due to this purpose of training and housing of United States planes and bombers, during the War Bradley Field was very interestingly camouflaged to reveal itself as tobacco fields and barns.

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Airmen Returning to Bradley Field, May 22, 1945

During our visit, Johnny and I also got a chance to do some pilot training ourselves. At the museum a pilot offered to help teach us a little bit on how to fly and pilot an airplane, and we even got the chance to practice on a computerized flight simulator! Johnny did a much more successful job, as I crashed many times I can certainly understand the difficulty of training and preparing airmen for the war. However, computerized flight simulators were not an option during the War for obvious reasons, which perhaps could have prevented many deaths during the course of training.

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Bradley Field, German POWs Repairing Fence

As the War continued, the purpose for Bradley Field shifted a few times from its original use as to train fighter units for overseas missions to as a training camp for P-47 pilots. Later on, the Field became a prisoner of war camp. Finally the Field after being utilized one last time as a base for returning European Theater units, was handed back over to the state of Connecticut and no longer in active duty as a base. This tumultuous history, often concealed from public knowledge, leads us to today, Bradley International Airport: proudly serving Connecticut residents with lagging security lines and baggage claim service that ensures you most definitely will not be home from your trip in time for dinner.

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Bradley International Airport, Present Day

New England Air Museum                                                                                                      connecticuthistory.org                                                                                                                                                   the Hartford Courant.                                                                                                                                            pictures (citations in respective order): connecticuthistory.org                                                    www.airfields-freeman.com                                                                                                           cslib.cdmhost.com                                                                                                                               www.courant.com                                                                                                                                    www.explore-massachusetts.com