Herman Osward Trimmer

March 2006 Chesterfield, Virginia

Conducted by: Anne Marie Trimmer



How old were you when the war started and what grade were you in?


I was eight years old and the second grade.


Where id you live and what was the neighborhood like?


When the war started I lived on Idlewood Avenue and when it ended I lived on Grayland Avenue. There were many family owed grocery stores where we bought meat, eggs, flour, bread, vegetables, etc. There were two big chain stores, one being the Safeway. School was a mile away and in walking distance because there were no buses.


When do you remember first seeing or hearing about the United States entering WWII?


At that time I was eight years old and I could read. I remember seeing the headline on the front page about “Japan Attack Pearl Harbor.”


What changes in you life did you experience when the U.S. went to war?


When the U.S. entered the war in 1941, things became real tight. A lot of items became rationed so they could be sent overseas to the troops. In 1942, the last of the automobiles were made so that the metal and other things used to make cars could be used for military weaponry. We bought out car in 1938 and we had to make it last until 1948 because of the waiting list after the war. If you owned a car, you had to sign up for ration cards so you could get gas. Things such as meat, sugar, shoes, etc. were all rationed. You had  to obtain coupons to buy groceries and you learned to make them last for a while. Many cities relaxed the laws on raising farm animals on you property. We raised chickens to eat and we had what was known as a “Victory Garden.” Many people had gardens to have fruits and vegetables. Travel decreased because we could not get the gas to go to far places. We also had air raid drills at school and at home. When the siren sounded and we were at school we had to go into the hall and sit against the wall and put our head between out legs. If we were at home at night we had to turn off all the lights so we could not be seen. We even had a warden who would walk around and make sure all our lights were out.


During the war what could you do for fun and what type of hobbies did you have?


Before the war started we would go to the movies for 9 or 10 cents and buy hotdogs, hamburgers, candy, soda pop, etc. for a nickel. When the war started we could still go to the movies but to get in you fee was 10 tin cans. All the boys my age and older had a hobby of following the war overseas. The Standard Oil Company, now Exxon, had maps with the major countries labeled that were involved in the war. As we listened to the news we could find the places that the U.S. troops fought, and mark the battles on our maps. There were books with silhouettes of the different planes of different countries. We could study those and identify the planes by the way they were shaped. We had books with the different types of military weaponry such as tanks and bombers. We collected army and navy patches.


How did you and the people in your neighborhood help support the war?


At school, we had many drives to collect materials such as tin and newspaper. I was a boy scout and we held many drives. Even after the war we went around with a soldier and collected clothing donations to send the people who had nothing because their home was destroyed during the war. We bought what were called defense stamps. The money from the collected stamps went to the war efforts.


Were there ever any attacks on the U.S. that you remember?


On time at Virginia Beach a German submarine shot at the beach just to mess with us and to let us know that they could attack us if they really wanted to. In California, there were hot air balloon bombs and if you went near one it would explode. The Japanese would gauge the wind speed and send over hot air balloons with bombs in the baskets. By the time that they crossed the Pacific they would be losing their hot air and land on the West Coast of the U.S.


Who did you know personally that went to war?


My cousin, Buddy Mills, was a pilot in the navy and my other cousin, Travis Issac, was a Captain, but he was shot by a Japanese Sniper. Two of my close neighbors went to war along with many other boys from our block.


Did any other person in you family help the war efforts in some way?


My two uncles worked in the ship yard and I actually got to go tour one of the ships. I toured the USS Boxer and I saw the Midway, one of the largest battle ships made up to the time, which was named after a battle over in the Pacific.


Were there ever any attempts of spying on the U.S. progress that you remember?


There were always constant fears of spies, but I do remember people trying to sabotage the ships and aircraft carriers.


How did you keep up with the news about the war?


Well, we always listened to the radio and when we went to the movies we saw video footage of what was happening. It wasn’t until I was older and began to feel the impact of what actually happened.



When the boys arrived home after the war what were they like?


Many of them had physical disabilities, but almost all had emotional issues. Clinton Forge was in the War and he would wake up in cold sweats and his heart racing. During war they would be talking to their friend and the next minute their head was gone. Clinton was actually buried in a fox hole and if his friend hadn’t seen it he would have been buried alive.