Appeared in the Gazette: Spring 2011
Due to incredible foresight, the Winnetka Historical Society has an extremely valuable resource relating to World War II. In April 1945, the Winnetka Village Council authorized the appointment of a Joint Committee on War Records. This unique committee was comprised of representatives from Winnetka American Legion Post #10, the Winnetka Historical Society and the Office of Civilian Defense. The project was announced during the Fourth of July program in 1945 and was completed in October 1947. Winnetka’s Joint Committee on War Records gathered data about each Winnetkan who served in the armed forces. There was a Blue Star list (living soldiers) and the Gold Star list (deceased soldiers).
There were 1,392 questionnaires returned in the Blue Star category, 72 in the Gold Star category. Student volunteer Jack Kelly spent many hours creating a database of these records; we are grateful for his hard work!
Here is an example of what the records contain – a questionairre and photo of each person:
Note that the extent of Corporal Aldrich’s overseas service spanned one year. He was evacuated due to wounds suffered at Iwo Jima. Corporal Aldrich received a Purple Heart, Personal Letter of Commendation, Unit Presidential Citation, Asiatic-Pacific Theater ribbon with two campaign stars and an American Theater ribbon. He notes that the Letter of Commendation states: “His continued coolness and fortitude prevented any of the enemy from infiltrating the perimeter of defense” as he successfully stopped numerous attacks on the command post.
Each fascinating record is the very condensed version of these Winnetka veterans’ sacrifice and service. Please contact the WHS to come in and read some of these records, or help in the database creation; this is a great hands-on history project.
In addition to the Joint Committee on War Records, the Village also established the Winnetka War Service Committee, which provided many services to veterans, including employment assistance, financial aid, lodging assistance and psychiatric treatment.