Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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May 6, 1942


Homer Bradney stated in his reply to this communication that official instructions for training civilian observers were not yet available. Mr. Witwer in the meantime was advised to contact his local public library and from there to obtain materials showing silhouettes of various types of airplanes. He could instruct his assistants with these graphics. The Illinois State Council of Defense had obtained permission to reprint air raid warden manuals which the War Department had distributed on the East Coast and as soon as those reprints were available they would be sent to the local chief observers.

July 28, 1942 the Will County Council of Defense issued blackout instructions. An air raid warning would be signaled by five continuous minutes of sirens and bells. Joliet radio station WCLS would broadcast the alert as well. In response citizens in houses, hotels, apartments, and business establishments were to turn off all exterior lights. If windows were not thoroughly covered, interior lights were to be put out. People were to remain inside and to keep their dogs indoors with them. The telephone was to be used only for absolute emergencies. Electric, gas, and water lines were not to be disconnected. Persons outside were to return to their homes or proceed to the nearest shelter. Those driving automobiles were to pull over to the side of the road or street, turn off headlights, and remain there. No smoking was allowed. Emphasis was placed on remaining calm. The "all clear" would be signaled by the sounding of sirens and bells at thirty second intervals.

The Army Sixth Area Service Command ordered a practice blackout for northern Illinois and southern Michigan and Wisconsin from 10:00 to 10:30 p.m., August 12, 1942. Will County participated with excellent results according to army observers.

Points to Consider

Why might some volunteer observers not be interested in a program of calisthenics?

What does this document say about the morale of the Joliet Observers Squad?

What does this document say about the commitment of the regular military to civil protection, especially as it applied to Joliet Township?

In what way is this letter indicative of a waning interest in civil protection in May of 1942?

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