, Derry, New Hampshire


March 28, 2013

Column: Derry’s ‘Fighting Gradys’ gave their all to the war effort

At present there are about 60,000 American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. None of these warrior-heroes are members of my family. In fact, right now I don’t personally know any of those brave men or women in the war zone.

This would not have been the case during the Second World War. Back then about every house in Derry displayed a service flag with blue stars indicating how family members were in the armed forces. A gold star meant a son or daughter, a husband or wife had died while in the service.

A local example of commitment to the war effort was the Grady family of East Derry. Attorney Frederic and Eleanor Grady had moved to Derry from Boston in 1923. They owned a 12-room house in East Derry just to the east of the Taylor Library. Here they raised seven children — who all attended the local schools and Pinkerton Academy. Frederic was active in town politics and Eleanor was involved with the charitable affairs of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. While perhaps not wealthy, the Gradys lived a comfortable life during those hard years of the Great Depression.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941, the family collectively felt the compulsion to help their country in its war against totalitarianism. Immediately, the federal government decided it had to control the nation’s resources to ensure that there was food, gasoline, tires and the like available for the war effort. Attorney Grady served without pay in the thankless task of being a member of Derry’s Price and Rationing Board. This was the group who could approve or deny requests for a larger food ration or new tires for the family car. It was an unpopular job but someone had to do it.

Mrs. Eleanor Grady took an active role in the local Red Cross, which was sewing bales of bandages to be used in military hospitals. Four of the Grady children served in the armed forces. Another son was employed doing war work at the Watertown Arsenal. The youngest daughter was studying to be a nurse in preparation for someday becoming an Army nurse.

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