Latrobe historical display, WW II ‘Homefront’ program slated for Veterans Day weekend |
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Jeff Himler
An Acme Die worker checks out the sights of an anti-aircraft gun during a World War II visit by Navy officials. The Latrobe plant manufactured explosives used with such guns.

Latrobe citizens and industries stepped up in support of troops during World War II, a unifying chapter from the town’s past that will be revisited in a Latrobe Area Historical Society program.

The slide show “Homefront: Latrobe in WWII” will be screened at 10:30 a.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the historical society headquarters, 416 Weldon St., Latrobe. Admission is free.

Like shows the society has presented on other topics, the “Homefront” program combines period images from the society’s archives with information its members have collected and researched.

Society President Mary Lou Townsend worked on the program when it originally was presented about a decade ago. “People have asked for a repeat,” she said, noting Veterans Day weekend is an appropriate time to revisit it.

Compared to many other towns’ homefront contributions, “Latrobe ended up being even more involved, because of the industrial side of it — what the companies in Latrobe were doing and producing for the war effort,” Townsend said.

“Kennametal had just started in 1938, and World War II gave them a jump start on expansion,” she said. “They had huge contracts during the war.

“Acme Die made explosives that went into anti-aircraft guns. Stupakoff Ceramics developed a proximity fuse that was useful in arming against the kamikaze planes.”

Local citizens also kept their eyes turned to the skies, watching for any enemy craft that might penetrate the nation’s airspace.

“The high school shop classes made model airplanes that could be used to train people to identify the different types of aircraft,” Townsend explained. “People would go to the tallest buildings every night to help serve as airplane spotters.”

A temporary display honoring veterans of all wars also will be featured at the society headquarters.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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