The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 24, 2002


Treasures of Carlisle's Past: 'Of Service and Service Flags'

(Information for this article is taken from Ruth Wilkins' Carlisle: Its History and Heritage and an article in the Concord Journal, November 30, 1967, written by Lucile Kohler.)

Memorial Day honors soldiers who have served during the several wars of our history. Townspeople will commemorate the day with a parade to the cemeteries, speeches and the placing of wreaths. It is particularly fitting, this Memorial Day following the tragic events of September 11, that we pause to consider the contributions of Carlisle's townspeople during World War II. In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans lined up to enlist in the armed services and "homeland defense" was practiced in a variety of ways.
CARLISLE WORLD WAR II SERVICE FLAGS. Carlisle received its first service flag (far left) from the Ricker family on Memorial Day in 1942. (Photo from the Carlisle Historical Society files)

Carlisle had the honor of being the first community in Massachusetts to form a Defense Organization as early as March 1941. Ruth Wilkins (Carlisle: Its History and Heritage) writes that the Boston Globe of March 24, 1941, reported: "Carlisle, second smallest town in Middlesex County, population 746, is probably the first community in the state to have worked out a complete and well-rounded civilian defense organization, as recommended by Governor Saltonstall's Executive Committee on Public Safety." Carlisle's preparations included a police department and auxiliary of 11 men, a fire department and auxiliary of 22 men, a "general protection" service, and a first-aid medical service with six doctors, 17 nurses and eight male attendants. Among the more interesting aspects of Carlisle's preparedness were the four ambulance crews formed by residents, Dr. Lawrence K. Lunt, Frederick H. Lovejoy, Martin K. Bovey and Paul F. Swanson. Each outfitted new "beach wagons" with stretchers and first-aid supplies!

The command center was at the home of Chief Waldo Wilson, where the radio equipment allowed constant contact with other state agencies and groups. There were four radio operators: Chief Wilson, his wife, Esther, Deputy Chief Kenneth W. Duren and Postmaster Fred E. Daisy. As part of the defense preparations, a three-stage system for initiating "blackouts" was also formulated.

Townspeople young and old supported the war effort. Many sewed for the Red Cross. Teachers and school-children assisted with the rationing registration. Adults and children collected scrap metal and bought stamps and savings bonds.

During the war years, Carlisle had a total of 66 men and four women on active duty in the military. They served in all branches of the service. Carlisle had one casualty: Louis A. Rivard. Sadly, he was part of a navy patrol bomber crew that was lost during a training mission. Rivard had lived at the Saint Vincent's Orphanage in Lowell until a teen. Then the Robert McAllister family and later the Charles Kierstead family took him in. Following tours of duty with the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Merchant Marine, Rivard enlisted in the Navy in February 1942. His loss is commemorated by a gold star on the Service Flags for the town.

The three service flags are part of the Town's Historical Collection. It was on Memorial Day in 1942 that Carlisle received its first service flag from the Ricker family. It was hung and flown continuously from the fire department in honor of those in the armed services. Replacements were donated when the flags became too worn to fly. Each red, white and blue flag indicates the number of townspeople serving or having served in the armed services at the time. The number of casualties is shown by the single gold star. The flags, symbols of patriotism, remind us not only of those serving in the military, but those who served the war effort relentlessly at home during World War II.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito