Patriotism and "News from Home"

     Always they looked forward to News From Home. That was the title of the newspaper the Townspeople used to send to their boys and girls in the Armed services, especially during the dreary days of World War II. J. Harold Baszner, who had been the second President of the Whitco Foremen’s Club, succeeding Henry Kooistra, had spent 33 years in the Freight Department of the Whitin Machine Works as foreman of packing, shipping and receiving. (In 1957, I had courted and later escorted to my Junior Prom at Northbridge High School, a young lady, then named Linda LaPensee of Linwood Village, who later on, fell in love and married Harry Jr., J. Harold Baszner’s eldest son!) Anyway, J. Harold was the roving reporter for the Linwood Village of Northbridge, because at that time, he lived on Union Street, having built a home there in 1941. From there he and his family went back to Whitinsville, on East Street, near St. Patrick’s Church, in 1947. His former home now contains a plaque for being on of the old historic houses in Whitinsville. At 28 East Street, it was formerly the old Baldwin Estate, and later, that belonging to the Bartleys. It had been from them that J. Harold had purchased it in July of 1947, and he lived there for quite some time while employed by the Whitin Machine Works.


     With some issuance of the Volume of World War II: Northbridge Service Men’s Album. the "News From Home" Committee  had fulfilled its purpose. In putting together such an album containing over 1,200 persons, and one of such significance, it was mentioned, with regret, that pictures of all those persons who assisted in the production, publication, or distribution of News From Home, and all of those who gave their time, money, and talents to the Album Fund, could not be included. It was certainly mentioned and noted also, that the "splendid spirit of co-operation and the unity of purpose" among all the people of Northbridge, which had been evident certainly during the war years, would continue to develop and prosper during the future peacetime years ahead.

     Among many who made up the "News From Home" Committee were the following: (known by me personally, during my present lifetime of 58 years)--- - having held a position of influence, either in Town Affairs or in Town Government while employed by the Whitin Families in some capacity--- Daniel C. Duggan, Winifred W. Jones, Harold S. Case, Lawrence M. Keeler, Patrick A. McGovern, J. Harold Baszner, Gertrude E. McGovern. Helenora S. Carr, Evelyn K. Marker, Mary C. Case, Samuel J. Currie, Raymond F. Adams, Thomas M. Marshall, Douglas S. Carr Sr. Roscoe M. Marker, Eugene M. Kennedy, Robert S. Wilson, Gerald L. Gaudette Sr., and Florence B. Adams.

Among the prominent Whitin Family members, as Whitin males, who served in World War II were the following: Harry Whitin Sr. (Oct. 16, 1942 – May 16, 1946) as 1st Lieut., Army Air Corps; R. Courtenay Whitin Jr. (Sept. 11, 1942 – Apr. 26, 1946) as Lieut. (j. g.), Navy Reserves, Supply Corps; Thomson Whitin (Feb. 1, 1943 – Jan. 27, 1946) as Lieut. (j.g.) Navy, and Welby C. Whitin (Dec. 30, 1942 – Dec. 10, 1945) as Lieut. (j.g.) Navy. With exception of Harry Whitin, each had been decorated with at least one Battle Star, the American Theater Ribbon, and the Victory Medal.

     Among my father’s brothers who served in World War II were the following: Joseph Leonard Gosselin (Jan. 27, 1942 – July 29, 1945) as PFC, Army, who was awarded 8 Battle Stars and a Purple Heart for having been wounded in Action while serving in Normandy, France; Joseph Roger E. Gosselin (July 20, 1942 – Jan. 2, 1946) as Cpl., Army Airborne with 3 Battle Stars; Joseph Fernand R. Gosselin (Oct. 2, 1942 – Nov. 8, 1945) as T/5, Army Cavalry and later in Medic Corps, who earned 2 Battle Stars in addition to the Bronze Star for Heroic Conduct; and Joseph Gerard M. Gosselin (May 28, 1943 – Nov. 17, 1945) as T/5, in the Army Combat Engineers, who was awarded 4 Battle Stars in addition to other honors.   On my Mother’s side of her Family, were three of her brothers who served also during World War II. My other brave Uncles included the following: Alpha J. Gauthier (Apr. 17, 1942 – Nov. 16, 1945) as PFC, Army Engineers, who earned 5 Battle Stars and other war honors, and Leo J. Gauthier (Mar. 29, 1944 – Apr. 11, 1946) as PFC, Army Armored, who got the Purple Heart after being wounded in Germany, along with the Meritorious Award. He would later serve the Town of Northbridge as a dedicated foot patrolman and police officer and be recognized by former President Richard M. Nixon with a Citation and the Carnegie Medal for Heroism. He had also excelled in boxing as a young man and was a Golden Gloves Champion who know Rocky Marciano personally. (And it was also he who taught this writer how to operate a 1947 Harley-Davidson motorcycle safely and properly, as he did while on duty in a Motorcycle Brigade overseas.) However, the accolades of the Armed Services were especially pronounced for my special Uncle and Godfather, Joseph Harvey Gauthier (Aug. 12, 1940 – Aug. 11, 1946) as B.M. 2/C in the United States Navy. Having served a full 6 years during Wartime, and later in the Merchant Marines as a Career, he amassed a total of 15 Battle Stars, in addition to numerous Service Awards, and can recall vividly the Japanese Invasion of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, a day which still lives in infamy, although it happened over a half a century ago. Let us NEVER, EVER, FORGET, to HONOR --- those who gave their service AND ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES AS THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE as they served their Nation, their GOD, and their Town of Northbridge.

     Besides the challenge of winning World War II was the aftermath of the end of the Cold War. But the generation that rose from the GREAT DEPRESSION knew hardships, sacrifices, and unparalleled tough times that hopefully our young people today shall not have to endure. For a fascinating exploration one must read the recent work of Tom Brokaw's THE GREATEST GENERATION , published by Random House and copyright 1998 (390 pp). He begins by saying in his acknowledgments that "everyone seemed to want to share their own stories of parents, other family members, or acquaintances who were charter members of the remarkable generation.". And when Tom first came to understand what an effect the members of the W.W. II generation had on his personal life and the world in which we all have to live in today, he wanted to tell their stories as a small token of his personal appreciation. (After reading this book, you shall know why it is a BEST-SELLER !!)

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