For the thousands of workers in Dayton producing materiel for the war effort, the tour created a sense of community and raised spirits, said Alex Heckman, vice president of museum operations for Dayton History.
“This one really had star power. The plane was a physical symbol of American progress in the war effort in this cataclysmic global war.”
The “battle-scarred” plane and crew, “two components of the greatest team in this war,” according to the Dayton Daily News, arrived at Patterson Field July 9, 1943. The next day the bomber was on display at the Dayton Municipal Airport.
Ten crew members, and their mascot, a Scottish terrier named Stuka, rallied a crowd downtown at the Old Courthouse and had lunch at the Moraine Country Club before visiting the Standard Register and National Cash Register companies.
The crew of the Memphis Belle, including their mascot, a Scottish terrier named Stuka, were the guests of Col. Edward A. Deeds for lunch at the Moraine Country Club. The crew of the iconic World War II bomber visited Dayton in July 1943 on a 30-city war bonds tour. NCR ARCHIVE AT CARILLON HISTORICAL PARK
On arrival to the NCR Auditorium, the crew was greeted by the thunderous applause of more than 2,500 National Cash Register employees gathered to pay tribute to the war heroes.
Flags of the United Nations covered the walls, an enlarged replica of the Memphis Belle nose art hung over the stage, and life-sized photographs of the plane’s combat and ground crew decorated the auditorium, according to a 1943 issue of NCR Factory News.
WHIO radio broadcast the assembly and workers gathered around radios at NCR, General Motors, Delco Products and other factories across Dayton that were producing the weapons needed for war.
Crew members of the Memphis Belle signed autographs for workers at the National Cash Register factory during a visit to Dayton on a war bond tour. NCR ARCHIVE AT CARILLON HISTORICAL PARK
Col. Edward A. Deeds, the NCR chairman of the board, and famed aviator Orville Wright, were seated on stage with other dignitaries as Maj. Robert Morgan, the pilot of the Memphis Belle, addressed the crowd.
“We are teammates of the greatest team that has ever been formed in the world,” said Morgan, whose war-time girlfriend, Margaret Polk of Memphis, Tenn., was the inspiration for the plane’s name.
“You are just as important a part of the team as we are. I know, and every member of my crew knows it … every member of the Eighth Air Force knows it — the ground crew, office crew, the flyers over the target – every one of them knows how important every one of you are!”
Memphis Belle pilot, Major Robert Morgan and co-pilot Cpt. James Verinis pose with Orville Wright and Col. Edward A. Deeds in the NCR Auditorium in Dayton. NCR ARCHIVE AT CARILLON HISTORICAL PARK
Morgan’s remarks, and the words of thanks from each of the crew members, was a morale boost for the men and women making gun magazines, bomb sites and artillery shells in the Miami Valley, Heckman said.
“I have to believe that in the minds of most of these workers sitting in the auditorium and gathered around radios, that in a very real human way, seeing these 10 men on the stage drove home how important the work was they were doing day in and day out, really was.”