D-Day 75th Anniversary

Photo: Abbott Reed Webber before being deployed overseas, February 1943. From the archives of the Bedford Historical Society

On June 6 the nation observes the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy beaches by Allied forces in 1944 that ultimately led to the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Among those sent into battle that day was Bedford’s Abbott Reed Webber. He was a medic with the 101st Airborne Division that parachuted into enemy territory during the night. He was later wounded during the Battle of the Bulge in Ardennes forest. His widow, Doris “Mickey” Webber, died earlier this year.i

Don Corey, President

Special thanks to Joe Damery for sharing this memory of Abbott Reed Webber after reading the above blog entry:

“During WWII, Mr. Webber, dressed in combat uniform & wearing his parachute pack, visited us in Grades 5 thru 9 at the Center school – then located in the brick building, now our town hall. Standing on the stage after a brief introduction, he explained how his parachute operated. He actually pulled the rip-cord which ejected a small parachute – his pilot chute, which was designed to pull and deploy his main parachute out of its container.
Not many weeks later he was on the way to Europe, where he did indeed parachute right into the war zone. We pre-teenagers were totally impressed by seeing, first-hand, just a portion of what our men and women in uniform were doing . . . Always through the years I quietly admired Mr. Webber whose actual residence was only a few hundred feet from that school building, where he simply resumed being a civilian-veteran, as so many among us continued to do.”

Women’s Army Corps in Bedford

A company of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) marching at Hanscom in their khaki summer uniforms c.1943; from the archives of the Bedford Historical Society.

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was established in 1942 to help with staffing shortages during WWII. The Women’s Army Corp (WAC) was established over a year later in 1943 and the name change reflected the Corps new status as part of the Army, rather than an as an auxiliary. Massachusetts Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers was instrumental in the effort to establish the WAAC/WAC and the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, located in Bedford, is named in her honor.

For more information about the Women’s Army Corps check out the National Museum of the United States Army website by clicking here.

Kathleen Fahey, Executive Director

Postcard Greetings from Snowy Bedford

The Bedford Historical Society recently received a collection of postcards that captures Bedford’s beautiful history from long-time supporter Lee Yates. The collection features images from Bedford from about 1900 to about 1970 and includes a handful of snowy scenes.

The Bedford House Hotel is shown above dressed in snow on a postcard from 1927. This building was located where the Bedford fire station now stands.

This postcard below features the Llewsac Lodge Main House and Higgins House located in Bedford. These buildings were part of a sprawling establishment that served in the early to mid-20th century as a “home for needy older women . . . [and] a vacation spot for younger working women.” To learn more about Llewsac Lodge, check out page 4 of the Bedford Historical Society October 2009 newsletter by clicking on the link below.

Finally, This snow-covered landscape shot of Bedford is from a postcard printed by The Bedford Print Shop c1913.

By Ashley Barrington, Fall 2018 Archives Intern.

Ashley joined the Bedford Historical Society this past fall as an archives intern and processed the Yates postcard collection. Ashley is a student at Simmons University and is working towards earning a Masters of Library and Information Science.