Abercrombie, Clotiele B.
Abercrombie, Loyd D. Sr.
Abercrombie, Virgie Blalock
Box, Dorothy Womack
Holbert, Pearl Shaw
Challis, James E. "Ike"
Degnan, Julie E.
Erikson, Charles Henry
Ezell, Alta Reigh
Grenley, Martha Rogers
Grigg, William N.
Johnson, Joe and Bobby
Lester, George - Playmates
Martinez, Nelma Cummins
Meissner, J. Raymond
Read, Osceola Jefferson
Robertson, William Judson
Robinson, Jimmie Jordan
Mack Thornton Rogers
Ryan, Terri Jo
Stanley, Glenda G.
Vail, Mary Lechtenberg
Vinson, Allen Earl
Williams, William B.
I only know of this disaster (firstly) from the
newspapers at the time, but then while being
attached to the Second Marine Division as a
Pharmacist mate, and serving at Tarawa & Saipan
I met a Ph M 1st class by the name of Sam
Hodges. A good friend. "Smilin Sam"
Somehow the subject of the school explosion came
up one day and he told me about his sisters.
Sam served on Guadalcanal so when rotation came
up after the Tarawa battle he was the only long
term company member who did not get sent back to
I never saw Sam smile again. He would only say.
"I won't make it home". Sam was killed on
I have suspected that he was killed in the West
Loch explosion at Pearl Harbor. One of the
Navy's greatest secrets of the war. Loaded LST's
blew up. Several of our corpsmen show deaths the
first day of the Saipan campaign. How many
Marine casualties show that date I do not know.
Lola Bento from an email from her son, Joe Bento
My mother, a native of Gause, Milam County,
Texas, was 11 years old when the New London
explosion occurred. She shared with me this
evening a poem / prayer written by W. Lee
O'Daniel. O'Daniel was with a hillbilly band,
and also had his own radio show where she heard
the poem. He was also governor of Texas at one
time - I don't know if it was at the time the
poem was written. The poem is titled: "A New
London Mother's Midnight Prayer."
It is as my mother remembers. It's certainly a
lot of verses to remember after nearly 70 years!
She remembers it being read during a memorial on
W. Lee O'Daniel's radio show.
A New London Mother's Midnight Prayer
(New London, Texas Catastrophe)
At night when I lay on my pillow and weep
In the darkness so silent and black
I can't go to sleep
'Cause memories creep
And it seems my dear children come back.
I can hear them at play as they clatter away
I hear their footsteps on the floor
And their laughter and song
Seems to ring loud and long
In the room just beyond that closed door.
Oh father above, quench this poor mother's love
Let me press that sweet face to my breast
With the tenderest of care
Let me smooth that soft hair
Just one kiss, Lord, is all I request.
Then with a flash in the sky
And a crash from on high
Like the flash that tore buildings in twain
I sit up in bed while up overhead
I hear the soft patter of rain.
'Tis the answer, thinks I
From the one upon high
So loud yet as gentle as rain
"Your children are here, so banish all fear
They now suffer no heartache or pain."
So with faith in my breast
There comes that sweet rest
That hope will endure evermore
And someday I will meet and my dear children
In that room just beyond that closed door.
Lu Campbell from an email
I am a 1965 graduate of New London High school.
I was born and raised in Rusk County. I attend
New London for 10 1/2 years. Everyday before I
got on the school bus my Mom would make me come
and show her what I had on and I always did. But
one time when I was in high school at the last
minute after I had shown her my attire for the
day I decided to change clothes. When I got home
that afternoon and she realized that I had
changed clothes boy was I in trouble. That is
when she finally told me that reason she wanted
to know what I had on was because if the school
blew up again she might be able to identify me
by my clothing. She never tried to scare us
about going to school in New London because all
four of her children are New London graduates. I
am not saying that I did not think about it but
I just was not afraid to go there.
As a small child I can remember the adults
reminiscing about the horrors of the school
explosion. I lost a cousin, my Mom's nephew, in
the tragedy whom I never met because I was not
born until 1947. About the only time they talked
about it was in July before the 4th. When I was
a child and up until several years ago we went
to the Pleasant Hill Picnic on the Saturday
before July 4th. It took place under the huge
pines at the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist
Church. My aunts, uncles and cousins from
Orange, Houston, Dallas, etc would come up for
this event. We always had to have a "Pleasant
Hill Picnic " dress and new white Sunday shoes.
After a delicious meal and a good time visiting
with long lost cousins, family members, friends
and acquaintances we would walk across Hwy 323
to the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. We always brought
fresh flower arrangements and cut out any weeds
that had grown in the plots the night before so
they would be there on Saturday when the people
started arriving. When we took the flowers on
Friday night other families would be there and
sometime it would take hours to get back home,
because I came from a family that loved to talk.
As we walked around the cemetery, we would go
our the graves to honor our families members and
straighten up anything on the site that was out
of place. we usually wound up exploring the
entire cemetery. My Mom would take us way in the
back where one of our relatives, who was a
Confederate hero was buried. Then walking back
up the hill is when we usually stopped and Mom
would tell us about some of the children she
knew who had been killed in the explosion. She
told us of some families who lost one child and
then she would tell us about a family who had
lost all of their children. I can remember
reading the tombstones and thinking that these
children were my age and at that time in my life
death was just not what I wanted to think about;
especially when it was children. I can remember
parents and other family members standing at the
foot of the graves and quietly bowing their
heads and softly crying. We were always told to
be quiet and speak in whispers as not to bother
They do not have the Pleasant Hill Picnic
anymore, but I go out regularly and walk around
as my maternal grandparents, my Mom and Dad and
my only son is buried there. Sometimes my family
loads up in several cars especially in the
Spring and Fall and we go to pay our respects. I
have taken my children and taught them how to
show respect to all the heroes there; and we are
teaching the grandchildren as we walk step by
step through the well worn paths. Thinking about
these young children now burdens my heart just
as it did as a child. But, as an adult I know
that they are rose buds in Heaven.