Christmas of 1945 included more newspaper letters to Santa than any year I researched. Perhaps it was because of the big “release and relief” from worries that followed World War II. But during all those years of children’s asking, which was the natural thing to do, hundreds of our local boys in uniforms were giving. Many making the ultimate sacrifice.
Among those serving were four sons of Dr. and Mrs. John Spicer. One was numbered among those killed in action.
However, before sharing those details, I would like to follow up with a few Santa letters I could not squeeze in before Christmas.
Bring me an electric train, two rabbits and a 56-piece farm set
I want a cowboy suit, lead pencil, fruit, nuts and candy. Don’t forget my baby brother, Jack. James Sauls Jr.
Bring me a monopoly game, lead pencil, fruit, nuts and candy. Be real nice to my granny. Joyce Sauls
We are three girls, ages 11, 9 and 6, and we are confined to bed with flu. Bring us music boxes, dolls, manicure set, toilet set, tea sets, fruit, nuts and candy. Barbara, Anne and Rose West, Pikeville
Don’t forget my daddy in the Philippines
Bring me a red riding hood doll, trunk, piano, telephone, tea set, doll clothes, bedroom slippers and cut out book. Bring sister the same thing. Fonnie and Kay Odom, Calypso
I want a table and chair. My sister wants a bicycle, and bring brother a train. Mother a necklace. Bring me skates, pocket book, with a shoulder strap. Bring Daddy a suit. Dorothy Ellen Gurley
Bring me a bicycle, cowboy suit, electric train, two rabbits, 56-piece farm set. Don’t forget my brother, Lemeul. Richard Haywood Cox
I want a ball, pistol, drum, truck, airplane, and fruit. Don’t forget my daddy in the Philippines. Bobby Penuel, War Housing Project
Have you got many toys in Toyland? I want you to bring me a bracelet with my name on it, a pair of overshoes, a nurse’s set and fruit, nuts and candy. Eleanor McCullen
Please bring me a doll, gloves, color book, fruit, nuts and candy. I am eight years old. Margaret Jernigan
I’m a little girl who wasn’t on your list last year as I’m only seven months old, so don’t forget to add my name. I want a high chair, stroller, fuzzy bear and doll. Don’t forget my Uncle Bill. Thank you. Della Dove Denmark
I am a little boy six years old. Please bring me a desk, chair, cowboy suit and a red truck. Don’t forget to fill my stocking with fruit and nuts. Don’t forget granddaddy and mama out in the country. Billy Williams
Four Spicer brothers in armed services, Aug. 4, 1942
2nd Lieut. George Spicer is on a visit to his mother, Mrs. Laura K. Spicer, in Goldsboro on his way from Fort Benning, Ga., to Edgewood Arsenal, Md., where he has been transferred.
He is one of four brothers in the Armed Forces of the United States. The last one to enter service, 1st Lt. Emmett H. Spicer of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, was here the latter part of last week on a visit before going to the Medical Corps training school at Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pa. He had been interning at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
The other two Spicer boys are John, who is in the Signal Corps training school in Chicago, and Jimmy, who is in the U.S. Navy and is in New Caledonia with the “Seabees.”
Based on information I find, Dr. John Daniel Spicer and the boys’ mother, Laura, were divorced before his death. Dr. Spicer died in Winston-Salem at the age of 72, just three months after the above article was published. Obviously he did not live to see the heroics of his adult sons on or off the battlefield.—SW
James W. Spicer wins commendation for heroism in blast, April 7, 1944
WASHINGTON — The Navy announced commendation of 31 Seabees for heroism following an explosion of fuel drums which blew up at a South Pacific base last November. The men commanded by Commander Francis (last name illegible) were credited with fighting fires caused by the explosion, salvaging valuable equipment, and rescuing servicemen, despite exploding shells, shrapnel and flaming gasoline.
Those commended include James W. Spicer, Goldsboro, N.C.
Lt. George Spicer helps play Santa Claus to 200 Alsatian children
With the 3rd Division of the Seventh Army, France — Men of the 3rd Division’s 30th Infantry, who have improvised on Christmases for three consecutive years now, completely outdid themselves this year.
Even the sound of guns in Alsace and the steady drone of Allied planes overhead did not drown out the message of veteran Yanks.
In spite of a combat situation, which prevented pre-planning of any celebration, a 30th Battalion gladdened the hearts of children in a recently liberated Alsatian town with a Christmas party. It was a hastily whipped-up affair, but the 200 kids, who were joined by their parents in front of the battalion command post, didn’t know the difference.
They had a free Christmas for the first time in four years. They got beaucoup chocolate candy, cookies, gum, and the good wishes of heavy-hearted 3rd Division doughfeet, whose hearts were somewhat lightened by events transpiring there.
‘Twas the night before Christmas when the idea crystalized in the minds of 1st Lts. Norbert B. Sauer and George K. Spicer. The situation only then became evident; the party could go on.
Lt. Sauer, who hails from Huge, Colorado, gathered parts of Christmas packages and gum and chocolate rations from his headquarters men. Meanwhile, Lt. Spicer, of Goldsboro, N.C., got the news to the town crier and slept on the idea for a setting in front of the partly-demolished house.
The battalion sergeant major, T.Sgt. Daniel Petrella, 1914 South Sartain, Philadelphia, Pa., contacted all the companies. Would they donate a day’s chocolate bars and gum? Would they send down anything else they have?
Weary doughfeet, who had nearly forgotten that tomorrow would be another Christmas day, responded magnificently. There would be enough for plenty of kids.
Another contact was made. Would the regimental command post nearby cooperate? S.Sgt. Howard Benner, 2918 Acresite St., Los Angeles, Calif., the acting sergeant major, applauded the plan. The men there gathered parts of gifts from home, rations, and anything that would help make a successful party.
On Christmas Day, Lt. Spicer supervised the simple decorations in sub-zero weather. Machine gun belts, real decorations, cellophane and excelsior adorned the huge tree on the outside. An American flag for a backdrop was enough to signify how and why the affair was effected in spite of difficulties by a front-line organization.
The term Alsatian made reference to the people from Alsace, a region in northeastern France near the German border.
Mrs. Laura Spicer must have been proud of son Lt. George Spicer for having been instrumental in bringing some Christmas joy into the lives of those 200 French children. And I’m certain his three brothers rejoiced when or if the news ever reached their military stations.
However, the good news would be short-lived. Eighteen days after the George Spicer Santa story ran, Laura Spicer’s youngest son, Emmett, a medic, was killed in the jungles of Corregidor.
Capt. Spicer killed on Corregidor, March 13, 1945
Capt. Emmett Spicer, 30, officer with a paratroop outfit, was killed in action at Corregidor on Feb. 16, his mother, Mrs. Laura K. Spicer, has been informed.
Surviving are the mother, Emmett’s widow and one child who reside at Palmerton, Pa., and three brothers in service, Lt. John Spicer, USNR; Lt. George K. Spicer with the U.S. Seventh Army; and James W. Spicer, USN.
The young Goldsboro man, member of one of the section’s most prominent families, volunteered for service many months ago.
(Corregidor is an island located at the entrance of Manila Bay, just south of Bataan province, Luzon, Philippines).
Very little was written in local newspapers detailing Capt. Emmett Spicer’s death; however, through additional research I have been able to find writings of former military men who served with him. Perhaps I will be able to pull their impressions together in a future column or glean additional information from family members who may yet live in the area.
Should there be Spicer relatives or acquaintances who knew the family, I would appreciate hearing from you.