The Redbud City: Joyous victory in May of 1945

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
Europeans celebrate the news of Victory in Europe on May 8, 1945.

WILSON SCHOOL RACES TO LITTLE OLYMPICS VICTORY

Counting 12 first places, Woodrow Wilson’s well-balanced track and field contingent captured the 13th annual “Little Olympics” on Friday, May 4, 1945, at Athletic Stadium, amassing 80.5 points. Irving school, champion for the past two seasons, was knocked out of permanent possession of the Roesch trophy when the WW boys went to work. Irving finished second with 47 points, while Jefferson finished third with 33.

One record fell during the meet. Jefferson’s Bobby Davies and Franklin’s Hoyt Sumpter reached 5’1” in the high jump, beating the old record of five feet. Ronald Cast, representing Wilson school in class B, was the high point man with 16 on the strength of firsts in the 50, 75, and 100-yard dashes and running on the winning 440-yard relay team.

In winning, Woodrow Wilson would hold possession of the Roesch trophy until the next year.

V-E DAY COMES TO EUROPE

Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on Monday, May 7, 1945, completing the victory in the European phase of the Second World War, the most devastating in history. Prime Minister Winston Churchill proclaimed the historic conquest at 8 A.M. from 10 Downing Street and simultaneous announcements from President Truman in Washington and Premier Joseph Stalin in Moscow.

The eighth of May spelled the day when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms: In Prague, Germans surrendered to their Soviet antagonists, after the latter had lost more than 8,000 soldiers, and the Germans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, near Berlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark—the German surrender was realized in a final cease-fire. More surrender documents were signed in Berlin and in eastern Germany.

The main concern of many German soldiers was to elude the grasp of Soviet forces, to keep from being taken prisoner. About 1 million Germans attempted a mass exodus to the West when the fighting in Czechoslovakia ended but were stopped by the Russians and taken captive. The Russians took approximately 2 million prisoners in the period just before and after the German surrender.

Meanwhile, more than 13,000 British POWs were released and sent back to Great Britain.

Pockets of German-Soviet confrontation would continue into the next day. On May 9, the Soviets would lose 600 more soldiers in Silesia before the Germans finally surrendered. Consequently, V-E Day was not celebrated until the ninth in Moscow, with a radio broadcast salute from Stalin himself: “The age-long struggle of the Slav nations… has ended in victory. Your courage has defeated the Nazis. The war is over.”

WOMAN DIES IN FALL FROM CITY HOTEL

A woman identified as Mrs. Mary Dale Kirkpatrick, manager of the Walcott Hotel, plunged to her death about 8:30 P.M. Wednesday, May 9, 1945, from the fourth floor of the hotel.

Identification was established about an hour later by B.J. Bynum, night clerk, and hotel guests. County Attorney Claude Hendon and Sheriff Terry Owens, along with city police conducted the investigation. They said the death appeared to be accidental. A short time earlier, guests said she was seen in the lobby and was in good spirits.

The body was found in the brick alley north of the hotel at 109 north Union Street. Nearby was a torn screen from the fourth-floor window of the hotel annex, which spanned north over the alley. The woman’s pocketbook, which contained a diamond ring, glasses, a small amount of money, and a receipt from an Oklahoma City clothing store, was found in the hall near the window. Officers also found a sheet of paper on which a notation was made about a room, indicating she was inspecting rooms shortly before she plunged to her death. Authorities said no note was found, refuting the possibility of suicide.

Kirkpatrick was 57 years of age, and was survived by one daughter, who lived in Oklahoma City. She came to Shawnee nine months earlier from Oklahoma City to take over the managership of the Walcott.

In a coroner’s jury verdict on Friday, the incident was ruled as “accidental death.” Kirkpatrick was believed to have leaned against the low-silled window screen as she made an inspection of the hotel and fell out the window when it gave way.

CITY SOLDIER RESCUES BUDDY FROM JAPS

Nine miles ahead of the American lines on Bougainville laid a Jap ambush into which Pfc. Aaron P. Spriggs dived to fish out a wounded buddy after he himself was injured. This “inspirational loyalty and alert action,” saved the life of another soldier. Spriggs, whose wife lived at 318 south Kickapoo Street, was awarded the silver star medal in April of 1944.

An automatic rifleman, Spriggs was with an infantry patrol that sighted the Japanese about three miles in front of their camp. As the Nips trained two light and one heavy machine guns on them, they scattered behind rocks in a creek bed for cover. At the first interval in firing, Spriggs crossed the creek and injured his knee as he did so. He waited six hours along the river bank for some of his buddies to make similar attempts to shake off Jap fire.

And one did, but as he slid through the line of fire, he fell with a shattered ankle, unable to go further. Spriggs saw that the wounded man was in direct line of enemy bullets and decided to try to save him. He made his way downstream about 100 yards, crossed the water and made his way back to the soldier’s side. He waited under cover until dark and then helped the wounded man to deeper water where they both floated down the creek until out of danger. When morning came, they picked their way back to camp.

Private Spriggs attended school in Wanette and volunteered for service in 1942. His parents lived in Shawnee. His wife was from Tecumseh.

These stories appear in volume two (1930-1949) of “Redbud City,” the history of Shawnee. The weekly articles in the News-Star are excerpts from the various editions. All six volumes, from 1830 to June of 2021, are now available for purchase at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. They are now open, and you may visit them, or you may order them online at their website, or by calling (405) 275-8412. Each volume is $35, but a purchase of two or more volumes can be obtained at $30 each. We are offering a special deal. If you purchase any other volume, you may obtain Volume One (1830-1929) for just $20. The six volumes contain approximately three million words and more than 1,000 pictures. Each volume is indexed with people and businesses, making it easy to find a person or entity.