On Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, the Presbyterian College history department hosted Dr. Vernon Williams, professor of history at Abilene Christian University. Williams gave a lecture on his research, “The Diverse Threads in the Historical Canvas: Oral History, Collaterals, Film, and the New Military History.”
Williams is a military and naval historian who received his doctorate from Texas A&M University. He has researched the East Anglia warfront in World War II for more than a decade and has conducted large portions of his research through collecting oral histories from those directly affected by the war.
“These people are talking across time, across time to me and my students and future American students who aren’t even born yet,” Williams said.
Williams’s visit to Clinton culminated with the world premiere of his newest documentary, “Fortress for Freedom: The 388th Bomb Group (H) and the Air War in Wartime Suffolk, 1939-1945.” The documentary covers the experiences of the 338th Bomb Group, which served in the 8th Air Force in wartime England.
“You can understand how these men on those B-17s became very important to the people,” Williams said. “When I talked to the people in these villages, I usually got the same response, ‘Those boys saved us from Hitler. If they had not come, our world would have changed forever.’”
A large part of the archives and historical materials that Williams used in his research for the documentary comes from the family of William B. Wade. Wade was a ground officer with the 388th Bomb Group who grew up in Clinton prior to the war.
“There’s a winding road that connects this town of Clinton to a little town called Knettishall in East Anglia,” Williams said.
William B. Wade, Sr. and wife Katherine Graham Wade’s son, William Barnett (Billy) Wade, Jr. is a 1975 alumnus of PC and a pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Covington, Ga. Billy’s wife, Theodosia, is a 1976 alumna. Billy and Theodosia’s son, Graham Wade, is a 2001 PC alumnus and is a physical therapist in Charleston. Billy and Theodosia’s niece, Katie Crozier Tyson, is a 2013 PC alumna. Crozier’s father is a PC graduate from 1969. Her mother, Frances Wade Cozier ’69, is listed as “family member” to Billy and Theodosia.
Presbyterian College is located on a striking 240-acre campus in Clinton, between Columbia and Greenville, S.C. Offering challenging academics and a culture of honor, ethics, and service that prepares students to be leaders in communities, PC offers its students the benefit of engaging with an exceptional faculty who take individual interest in their students’ well-being, both personally and in the classroom. The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy opened in 2010, and is dedicated to the ideals of leadership, honor to the profession, and service to the community. For more information about Presbyterian College, visit www.presby.edu.