When Tim Carroll discovered hundreds of letters written by his grandfather during World War II, it opened the door to a much larger project than he anticipated. Carroll was so immersed in local World War II history that he wrote a book, “World War II Akron,” completed earlier in the year, which chronicles Akron’s role in the war.
And his research led to a number of surprises. For example, “I didn’t know there was a draft before Pearl Harbor,” said Carroll, who lives in Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood. “(My grandfather) was actually drafted in 1941 as part of the Pearl Harbor draft.” Another surprise, he added, was the father’s draft, during which fathers ages 18 to 37 were drafted, included Ohio State University head coach Paul Brown. Carroll said that 192 Akron area fathers were killed in action.
A number of notable Akronites had a role in World War II, according to the book. Newspaper magnate John S. Knight, whose son John S. Knight, Jr. was killed in World War II, was on the Battleship Missouri when the Japanese surrendered to General MacArthur. Swensons Drive In founder Wesley Swensons’ two sons also fought in World War II.
Even Akron icons were instrumental during the war, said Carroll, as Goodyear Blimps were deployed to hunt enemy subs.
And the enlisted also included animals. As part of the Dogs Defense program, Americans could donate their dogs to the military during the war.
The book, which Carroll said took about 11 months to complete, also covers the deadliest year for Akronites during the war, as 972 Akron-area men died between June 1, 1944 and May 1, 1945. “It was really 12 straight months of significant casualties,” said Carroll. This particular fact required a deep dive into the data. “I took every person that was killed in action and spent months and put them in order from the first person killed to the last person killed, to determine the deadliest state, and the deadliest month,” said Carroll, an Akron native and graduate of the University of Akron.
More than 1,500 men and three women from Summit County died during the war, according to Carroll.
World War II also brought stateside casualties, as 195 Akron men died within the borders of the United States from incidents like plane crashes and training accidents. In all, 12 percent of war casualties occurred stateside. “They might have been killed in plane crashes, drownings, accidental shootings, blimp accidents,” Carroll added.
The book also includes rare archival photos, along with more than 30 cartoons from former Akron Beacon Journal cartoonist Web Brown, whom Carroll described as the best cartoonist in the country during World War II.
For info and to purchase copies of the book “World War II Akron,” visit https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467139731?fbclid=IwAR2fF4vgCCHK6Teksdf_JA-amzGeZY0n6ydOLdW61eTzL1JJWQUpPhaRikk.