A look back at Augusta's past

Augusta first in the country in February, 1943



Augusta was the first city in the United States to raise sufficient funds for the building and launching of a fighting rescue boat during World War II. The fundraising campaign was started by the Augusta Chamber of Commerce and kicked off on Feb. 24, 1943, and was completed about a month later after $77,500 in war bonds had been raised.

The rescue craft #20982 was christened the Augusta had a cruising range of 600 miles and a crew of seven. It was built at the Fellows and Stewart Boat Yard in Wilmington, Calif. When the ship’s construction was completed, every employee who helped in its manufacture signed a scroll and the scroll was sent to Augusta.

The boat was launched on July 9, 1943 and Ellen Malcom, sister of Mrs. Clare Patterson, christened the ship.

It evacuated hundreds of isolated and wounded guerrilla fighters from the East Indies and the Philippines. It was also called a Sea Horse as it could go where sea rescue planes could not go. With its own gun batteries, it could shoot its way out of trouble while rescuing Army Air Force pilot shot down near enemy bases.

The photo shown here, the scroll from the shipyard and other items pertaining to the “Augusta” are on display at the Augusta Historical Museum.

Sources: “Images in Time - Augusta 1868-1968”, “Augusta, Kansas 1868-1990”, Augusta Daily Gazette.

Editor’s note: Next week we’ll return to the regular format for Our Yesterdays.