Introducing the Bradley Beam
The Connecticut Digital Newspaper Project is excited to announce the latest addition to Chronicling America from Connecticut, Bradley Beam!
Before Bradley International Airport was Connecticut’s largest public commercial airport, it was a World War II army air base called Bradley Field. Bradley Beam, published from 1943 to 1945, was the base’s official weekly newspaper. The paper’s coverage was wide-ranging, covering lighthearted local content meant to boost morale and bring the community together alongside critical information about the war and the needs of those living on the base. The paper also documents the relationship between the base and the surrounding area, as enlisted people often helped in the communities of Windsor Locks and greater Hartford when issues arose, and those communities offered their support to Bradley’s soldiers and workers.
The paper includes articles and columns that cover a variety of subjects, such as base rules and protocols, events happening on and off base, profiles of individual officers and soldiers, entertainment and sports coverage, base war bond drives, warfront coverage, visits and partnerships with local businesses related to the defense industry, regular contributions by the local USO and Red Cross groups, and more. This coverage gives us insight into the operation of the base and how military activity in this part of Connecticut shaped industry and development. Frequent coverage of Bradley’s Women’s Army Corps unit through a regular column and features also highlights the significant work done by women on the base, as well as the important contributions they made to the war effort in Connecticut.
The final issue of the Beam was published on September 1, 1945, as Bradley Field transitioned to an inactive base after the war. The paper continued to document the base and provide soldiers with vital information on base activity and preparations for postwar life through its end. Bradley Beam is a firsthand record of the operation of Connecticut’s army air base, which played a vital role in training soldiers and preparing them for deployment. After serving as Connecticut’s army air base, Bradley Field went on to become the home of the Connecticut Air National Guard in 1947 at the same time it entered its current era of commercial use.
To browse issues of the Bradley Beam, visit Chronicling America! This post was adapted from the Bradley Beam title essay which was written by Nicole Besseghir.