by Dick Martin
When reading about WWII, it is easy to forget what the veteran’s loved ones were enduring back on the home front, constantly aware of their family member in harm’s way in a far off land.. Gertrude Namminga Ludens, wife of Clarence Ludens, had a penchant for recording in writing what she was experiencing and thinking while her husband was away. Following is an excerpt from her writings that will give one and idea of what a family member was experiencing and thinking while her loved one was away at war.
“After coming home (from seeing her husband off to the Pacific) more and more 18 year olds were called up and sent to camps for training. Jake (brother), received his notice and left just shortly before Dad. I vividly remember the morning Jake left. My dad sat in his usual place by the window in his favorite chair. He was crying.
Shortly after Dad (Clarence) left for training in Texas, I was staying with my folks. One morning the telephone rang; word had just come that Allen Palsma had been killed on a ship in the Pacific. The ship had been torpedoed. It was the last week in May 1945. He was Jake’s age and we were stunned. Everyone grieved with the families when such news came but life just had to go on. After a period of time the casket arrived and the funeral service was held.
There were many others who served, some in very dangerous situations. I think of Lawrence (brother) fighting in the Battle of the Bulge as a forward observer for the artillery, Phil Odens, Bernard Kastein, Tom Ruppelt, Ode Odens, and John Palsma. There were many more and it seemed as though every family was touched. Another thing comes to mind so clearly; a memorial service for Jake Den Ouden, who was killed in Europe. Since he was buried over there, there was no casket, just a large picture of him placed on the communion table.
Life continued on and as Dad settled into the routine at camp he started writing letters and we were able to write him. After his furlough there were times he was not able to let us know where he was and he did not get our letters either. These were some of the hard times. At home we settled into a routine. It seemed to me life became a little easier because there were jobs and so more money. Crops were better and we got better prices for them and best of all there were no dust storms and no grasshoppers. Oh, we still needed ration cards for gas, tires, some food items such as sugar and coffee. Good meat was sometimes hard to come by. Oh yes, we did a lot of substituting and many cakes were made with corn syrup, though not always successfully. But by making adjustments we usually managed to get by.”
Gertrude Namminga Ludens
By Dick Martin
FRED C HORNSTRA may have been the luckiest man in the United States Army during WWII. As Fred and the 11th Calvary put the finishing touches on the German Wehrmacht in Germany near the end of the war, Fred had the misfortune of having one of the German's famous 88 artillery rounds land near him, which is not a good thing. However, the round was a dud, still blowing Fred off his feet, causing injuries that Fred, under the circumstances, was willing to accept. Fred acknowledged that he may owe his life to an anonymous Jew who was busy sabotaging the ammunition the German’s were forcing him to make in the work camps.
Springfield has plenty of veterans with military service worthy of a motion picture. In fact, Springfield has a veteran who was part of a small force in the Philippine Islands whose heroics were depicted in the motion picture “They Were Expendable” starring John Wayne. The individual was Grover DeLong, Springfield native and 1937 graduate of the Naval Academy. Grover got caught right in the middle of the darkest period for the United States in the Pacific war. After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese turned their attention to the Philippine Islands where they systematically pushed the American contingent down the Bataan Peninsula to the island of Corregidor. During the first six months, Grover DeLong skippered his Torpedo boat as it harassed the advancing Japanese. The exploits of the DeLong and the Motor Torpedo Squadron Three would be depicted in the movie “They were Expendable.” DeLong was eventually captured by the Japanese and executed.
By Dick Martin