Sayre grad's WW II exploits highlighted in Sayre Quarterly

SAYRE - The World War II experiences of 1938 Sayre High School graduate George Hammond are recounted in the Winter edition of the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly history magazine. Hammond's story, including a daring bombing run on the Ploesti oil fields in Romania, was provided by his son, Andrew Hammond, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy.

CAPTION: Captain George Hammond, a 1938 graduate of Sayre High School, was a World War II bombardier who is profiled in the Winter issue of the Sayre Quarterly history magazine. (Andrew Hammond Collection)

"Early on the morning of August 1st, 1943, one hundred and eighty-seven heavily-loaded B-24s made their take-off from the Libyan desert," said Andrew Hammond of his father's role in the oil field raid. "All got into the air but one which crashed a short distance from the base. Their runways were nothing more than flat places scraped in the desert, very dusty. To save valuable time and fuel, they took off three abreast like fighters to give time for the dust to settle before the next wave would be able to see the runway."

Among the notable "flying partners" Hammond served with were actor Jimmy Stewart and musician Tennessee Ernie Ford, according to his son's written account.

A 1908 photograph of the Keystone Park Band from the John R. Lynch Collection is the featured center-page of the issue. Band members including Charles Rockwell, Samuel Blair, Frank Kramm, Albert Flynn and Robert Daly, among others, are identified in the photograph.

The Sayre Canteen, pride of the community in both World Wars, is recognized for its patriotic contributions to the First World War in an article first published by the Scranton Republican newspaper in 1919. Two vintage views of the canteen structure are included from the collection of James R. Nobles.

Another featured story in the Quarterly is the Collins "Wheel Hub" factory that was located on S. Thomas Avenue. A rigorous competition in 1897 for the new factory was waged in various Pennsylvania communities including Allentown, Easton, Scranton, Bethlehem and Wilkes-Barre. A donation of land by the Sayre Land Company and a payment in lieu of taxes incentive for 10 years enticed the company to select Sayre. A scant seven years later, the factory was sold at a receiver's sale. Later, the building housed the Sayre Brewery, the Paul Harris warehouse and then Label Processing and PAXAR. A fire in November 1950 damaged the two-story building and it was converted to one story.

The construction of a "new and improved" locomotive at the Sayre Shops of the Lehigh Valley Railroad was touted in an 1884 article from the Altoona Times. The Sayre-built steam locomotive was projected to pull a train at the speed of eighty miles per hour.

Finally, a photograph shows Valley Taxi driver Francis Lincoln on the job in Sayre in 1990.

The Quarterly is mailed to members of the Sayre Historical Society as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available from Carl's Newsstand in Sayre. The Sayre museum is closed for the winter and will reopen on Saturday, April 4. Contact the museum at 570-882-8221 or by e-mail at for membership information or volunteer opportunities.

The Sayre Historical Society is a member-supported, non-profit organization and a recipient of funding from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.

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