Citizens of Janesville and Rock County made great sacrifices and contributions toward victory in World War II. For example, Janesville industries were at the forefront of helping the war effort. The Oldsmobile division took over our General Motors plant and from 1942 to 1945 produced 62 million artillery shells. “Keep ‘em firing” was the motto.
Parker Pen produced fuses for our military, and the Gilman Engineering Company made machines to make war machines. The Janesville Cotton Mill made bandages for our soldiers, and Janesville women called “Rosie the Riveters” worked in factories making military products.
Parker Pen executives urged citizens to buy war bonds. City Manager Henry Traxler in 1941 bought the first U.S. Defense Bonds sold at the Janesville Post Office. Janesville citizens had garden plots called “victory gardens.” Janesville collected scrap metal, and in 1942, streetcar rails were uprooted from Janesville streets and shipped off to help the war effort. Rock River Woolen Mills produced suiting and lining for the Army and Marine Corps.
Rubber tires could not be bought unless a two-page form was competed. Meat, shoes and gasoline were rationed. A drive for aluminum by Janesville citizens gathered 5,330 pounds of aluminum. Chrome on cars was prohibited because chrome was used in making war materials.
Janesville and Rock County exhibited courage, determination and strength in helping fight the war. Men and women from Rock County served in every theater of the war and many won the Medal of Honor for bravery. On Rockport Road, Janesville had a German prisoner of war camp, and the prisoners overall worked satisfactorily in our canning factories. Don’t forget the bravery and determination of Rock County citizens.
LEON K. FREEBURG