Rallying the Country
Eleanor and the MCWRB performed across the country to sell war bonds. The band inspired many, and the startup of the MCWRB was critical to the war efforts. In 1943, the band was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where they auditioned and practiced. On January 28, 1944, they put the practice to use by playing their first public performance at Camp Lejeune. The band wore their winter dress greens and played in front of a crowd for their first time. This event was just the beginning to the MCWRB and their great success in aiding the war effort.
“We have to play short pieces and play them well. I don't want to lower our standards, however."
—Charolette Plummer on the MCWRB's first performance
Towards the end of WWII, A few days after Victory Day in Europe, the 7th War Loan drive began on May 14th, 1945 in Pittsburgh, and would inevitably sell millions of dollars of bonds. The 7th War Loan drive would have the MCWR Band and many other military bands touring and performing parades and concerts across the country. The MCWR band played all over Pennsylvania in preparation for the May 14th Parade.
Eleanor Jones wrote several letters to her friends and family over the last half of May 1945. In the letters, she discussed and reflected on the events of the loan drive as they occurred. She also talks about Pittsburgh, and a couple of the other towns the band would visit. The band would even play at the football stadium in Pittsburgh, before touring around the town in a parade. When The MCWR band played the kick-off parade for the 7th War Loan drive, Eleanor commented on something rather special: “The parade – which opened the 7th War Loan Drive – This morning was gigantic – the largest ever held in the city. And the M. C. W. R. Band lead the entire parade – preceded only by military escort and Marine color and gun bearers."
Twelve Cities in Seven Days
The MWRCB has been on many adventures together during the course of their WWII prominence. However, nothing matches up to the effectiveness and importance of their weeklong trip to Pennsylvania from May 15-21, 1945; in which they managed to play an astounding 15 performances at 12 different cities, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in war bonds. During this week, the band played in a plethora of settings. Starting from a small crowd in a high school auditorium to being the lead performers at countless parades and concerts. They quickly gained a following and amassed a fanbase, typically signing autographs and needing a police escort out to their bus after performances to ensure their safety.
“We got the keys to the city!”
—Eleanor during her visit to multiple cities in Pennsylvania
MCWRB's closing performance
After their huge success from their first performance, they only found more success touring across the country. They helped sell hundreds of thousands in war bonds during their time in the MCWRB. Though they performed many concerts and parades, all good things must come to an end. On November 29, 1945, they performed for the last time as the MCWRB. They returned to North Carolina where they dedicated a performance for a new radio station.
The MCWRB’s first performance success opened an inspiring and critical future role for women in the war effort, as the MCWRB played throughout the war and sold bonds. They wrapped up their time in the war effort leaving behind a legacy that will never be forgotten.