Bombing zones throughout Lincoln County
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Nebraskans played a large role during war efforts. The large amounts of land and airfields made Nebraska land essential for the war industry. A facility in Hastings built ammunition and bombs were built in Grand Island. Lincoln County’s location made it a prime area for bombing zones. Access to the railroad helped transport ammunition.
“In Lincoln County, we are in the center of the country,” said Jim Griffin, Curator Director of Lincoln County Historical Museum. “There was no way Germany or Japan could get to us and harm those facilities. That’s why they put them all right here.”
In McCook, Nebraska, there was a huge airfield and many soldiers were stationed there. Soldiers underwent extensive training to defend airplanes and learned to shoot at moving objects. There were fields designed for their training.
Lincoln County’s terrain provided an ideal place for the training grounds. Uninhabited land south of North Platte and two areas near Dickens, Nebraska was transformed into bombing ranges. These ranges had giant areas with targets and facilities. Bombers would come through day and night. They would use flour sacks and real and reduced bombs.
“Those bombing ranges were needed, but they did cause some problems,” said Griffin. “The town of Dickens was bombed with flour sacks because someone mistook their location.”
Grass fires were also an unfortunate result of the bombing ranges. If you landed within the bombing ranges, fires did not spread.
“We were also producing beef for the war efforts,” said Griffin. “They stressed the importance of hitting your targets. If we had too many grass fires, the cattle can’t eat and we can’t provide beef.”
Back then, residents in McCook, North Platte, Dickens, and surrounding areas were used to the loud thumps and sound of air crafts buzzing. Those sounds were constant reminders that the war was going on.
“It brought the war home to them,” said Griffin. “Between that and the canteen, they knew specific what was going on with the war, because they saw it in their everyday lives.”
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