Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Friday, February 28, 2020

Robert Darrow: The Ultimate Sacrifice

Every so often I strive to recognize Sherburne County men and women in military service.  Individuals who sacrificed for their country.  I want to acknowledge the life of Robert Darrow, a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, who died in combat in Italy in September 1943. 

Robert Darrow, born in Elk River; for a short time, lived in Big Lake before returning to the city.  He graduated from Elk River High School in 1939.  He trained as a pilot at the North Dakota State School of Science.  He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941 and received his commission as Lieutenant in July 1942. 

Bob Darrow received some recognition as an excellent pilot.  The Sherburne County Star News published a report of Darrow, during a training session in Louisiana, landing a crippled plane at high speed.  He kept the plane, with damaged wings, in the air for an hour to allow his crew to bail out.  To a man, the crew stayed with Darrow.  He managed to land the plane with no casualties to anyone on the ground or to his crew. 

With his training complete, the Army Air Corps ordered Darrow to the European theater.  There during the Salerno Campaign, the beginning of the Allied invasion of Italy, the Allies put every pilot in the region in the air.  Towards the end of the campaign, in September 1943, Darrow flew a Mitchell B-25 bomber.  On September 19, he was shot down and killed.  

In reviewing the service of men and women from Sherburne County there exists the cliché of the ultimate sacrifice.  It may be used too often.  Yet, in the case of Lieutenant Robert Darrow, of Elk River, his family gave everything: the life of their son, to the cause of freedom in World War Two. A man, and his family, sacrificed everything.  That warrants acknowledgement for his service.

Friday, February 7, 2020

More Rationing During World War Two

Earlier, we wrote of the rationing programs effecting Sherburne County during World War Two.  Following up on the discussion, we want to shift gears away from rationing of farm necessities and scrap metal to explore the food rationing programs. 

Although the advertisement emphasizes
the scrap drives, the theme of rationing for
the war effort served as a universal message 
Although the scrap drives and farm implement rationing remained significant in Sherburne County, sugar and other food rationing gained importance beginning in the spring of 1942.  In February, the Federal Price Administration developed plans for rationing of sugar, coffee, meat, gasoline, and other household necessities.

In Sherburne County, teachers served as the registrants, to record the size and food requirements of each family in the county.  The teachers worked late nights to document members of each family and issue ration books for food and gasoline.  In the case of sugar, the teachers authorized 12 ounces per week for each person in a family.  However, a surplus of more than two pounds in the household signaled an excess and the ration might be reduced. 

Coinciding with the ration program, local newspapers carried out a campaign to pressure individuals to accept the ration programs.  “If You Fail Some Boy Will Die,” the newspaper advertising screamed.  Headlines denounced the “slackers” and pressure continued to urge the county residents to abide by the campaign. 

Although the emphasis remained on metal and scrap drives, in Sherburne County food rationing and other household necessities became equally important considerations to the war effort expanded in 1942 and 1943.