Whenever I go on vacation, I usually look for the local antique store. Recently I was in the Outer Banks with my family to celebrate my 10th birthday, and couldn’t resist stopping by the local antique store.
With about 10 minutes to spare before closing, I picked up some WWII posters for a great price. The two I purchased were from 1942 and 1943. One was a Norman Rockwell print and the other encouraged remembrance of Pearl Harbor on December 7th. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get these great posters as they were originals. and very affordable. They didn’t know what they had.
These two posters made me think of our region during the Second World War and the struggles and hardships we went through during that time. Weirton Steel contributed greatly to the war effort, and its admirable history deserves mention.
One of my favorite stories of Weirton during the war is when he rolled brass and other metals on the steel rolling machines. This was significant because no other steel mill at the time had ever rolled these materials. Weirton Steel made this distinction first.
It is very difficult to separate the history of the town of Weirton from that of Weirton Steel, because basically Weirton was the factory for so many years. It was a company town, but not in the sense of those in the southern coalfields. For example, Weirton encouraged its employees to own their own homes, join their own clubs, and be parishioners in their own churches. And to each organization, the mill would support them, making employees and residents extremely loyal.
Another important Weirton Steel contribution during the war was the production of the 8-inch Howitzer shell. This 200-pound high-explosive projectile was the only finished product produced in our factories during the war. The production record for this vital war material was over 70,000 shells per month. This was a combination of work between the Steubenville and Weirton plants. The Steubenville plant was the finishing plant where they marked the shells as high explosive and painted them yellow, among other processes.
Not many people remember that time, but we’re lucky Weirton Steel produced a movie called ” Mission accomplished “ in 1945.
Weirton Steel filmed this film in color, and he explained the production of the shells from start to finish. I’m not sure if the United States were in another world conflict, we would be as prepared.
This film is available on YouTube, and it is worth seeing. To see first hand how Weirton Steel has answered the call for our country is inspiring. This is courtesy of the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center. The museum is full of artifacts from this era, including four seashells. Two were restored to their 1940s appearance and the other two were used as lift weights, as the story goes.
Each shell has its own identifying marks which, according to the film, indicate that “It was made by the men and women of Weirton Steel.”
These four shells are testament to Weirton Steel’s ingenuity and dedication to the United States and the war effort. I wonder if the people of that time would ever imagine how much we owe to their sacrifice. Today, their material culture is our antiquities.
Maybe if I’m lucky I could find something from that era to bring the whole story to life. It’s the thrill of the hunt.