‘Cardinal Charlie’: VE Day ‘extras’ heralded the end of World War II in Europe

Published 11:19 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 8, 1945, was VE Day and the Dowagiac Daily News put out some extra editions.

gillOne was a special called European Victory Edition, a very large paper of dates as the war went along.

It was sponsored by some 80 local businesses in the ads I counted.

There was to be a big parade that night and the schools and lots of the stores closed for the day.

Here are some things I picked out of this 1945 paper.

Capt. Thomas Griffen, one of Jimmy Doolittle’s Tokyo fliers and the fiance of Miss Esther Jones of Dowagiac, has been liberated from a German prison camp. He was taken prisoner in North Africa.

Sgt. Claude Parker, who was in Germany, had his birthday while there on VE Day.

Mrs. Ralph Horstman and infant daughter Mary Ann left Lee Memorial Hospital for their home at 111 Lester Ave.

Helen Yochim of 108 Mill St. was a surgical patient this morning at Lee Memorial Hospital.

In the 1945 Saturday special edition of the Dowagiac Daily News, there were pictures of earlier days of things that had been in previous editions, also stories.

One was a picture of when Tom Dewey’s train stopped in Dowagiac (I was there, it was 1948).

There was an article about T. Sgt. Norbert Swierz “missing in action.”

His mother, Mrs. Rose Johnson, received this notice from the war department.

Swierz, a waist gunner on a big bomber, had only returned to duty after being wounded in a raid over Germany.

He was credited with shooting down two German planes while a member of the crew of “Old Ironsides,” a flying fortress.

There was more in the article about Norbert.

He is the sixth boy from this community reported missing, along with Victor Veach, Douglas C. Fox, Joel B. Mann, Gordon Ford Rohlf and Alvin J. Cox.

There are two listed as dead, Joseph Ostrowski and William Suits.

Four of the Taggart brothers are all in the service at the same time., Cpl. Charles Taggart, PFC Walter Taggart, Everett Taggart in the Navy and PFC L.G. Taggart.

Also, it was mentioned that Cpl. Henry P. Gaideski in Hawaii was the first local boy to have his Dowagiac Daily News paper follow him across the waters, and he says it  was the only newspaper of any kind coming into camp.

I’m so glad I was given this special Saturday, June 1, 2000, edition.

I treasure it in my collection of old Dowagiac things.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at cardinalcharlie@hotmail.com.