Pay Day

Great-Aunt Bess had a house in downtown Wilmington on Franklin Street. Since her divorce my aunt had an extra room or two and was glad to rent one to my twenty-one year old mother, who had just graduated from Washington College with a B. S. in chemistry and had taken a job working at the lab.

She worked the third shift, taking the crowded bus to work at 11:00 PM up Delaware Avenue to Union Street, then transferring to Lancaster Avenue. The building where my mother worked was down in the hollow of Red Clay Creek, near the pilot plant. Her job consisted of setting off controlled detonations of small amounts of high explosives in large, heavy steel vessels fitted out as calorimeters, so she could measure the energy of new, experimental explosives. The job was so dangerous that her building had been built in an isolated, low section of the plant, so that when it blew up it would not take the whole place with it.

My mother got back to Franklin Street at 8:00 in the morning of Friday, June 26, 1942, pay day. She ran up the stairs and into her room, slamming the door behind her before nosy Aunt Bess had a chance to say anything. She was warm in her suit jacket (it was already close to 80) and hung it in the closet, after throwing her bag on the bed. She opened the window. Now came the exciting part. My mother sat on the edge of the bed and opened her bag, withdrawing her pay envelope. In it were four ten dollar bills and a five. She lined the bills up in a row on the bed beside her. It was unbelievable to make so much money.

North Atlantic. Between 7.57 and 8.11 AM 475 miles East of St. John’s, Newfoundland, U-607 and U-704 both torpedo British MV Empire Rainbow in convoy ON-113 which sinks (all 39 crew and 8 gunners picked up by British destroyer HMS Burnham and Canadian corvette HMCS Dauphin). At 8.15 AM 12 miles East of Tobago, U-66 sinks Brazilian SS Tamandaré (4 killed, 48 survivors in 2 lifeboats spotted by an aircraft and picked up by US patrol boat PC-492).

At 9.45 AM in the Gulf of Mexico off Corpus Christi, Texas, U-171 sinks Mexican SS Oaxaca (6 killed, 39 survivors).

Case Blue. German Army Group A fans out rapidly into the Caucasus, South of the River Don (while 1st Panzer Army attacks Southeast, 17th Army heads Southwest to secure the Black Sea coast and join up with Manstein’s 11th Army arriving from the Crimea across the Kerch peninsula). German 6th Army breaks through Soviet 62nd and 64th Armies to reach the Don just West of Stalingrad.


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