Conclusion of the story of the unusual wartime service of Paul Linde of Crossville.
It is essential that the angle between the roof like facets be square within two seconds of arc, or l/1800 of a single degree. How infinitesimal such an angle is would be shown if you could see a man at 30 miles way with light rays coming from his left and right shoulders to your eye that would make such an angle. Bringing the roof angle by hand retouching to this high precision, and at the same time keeping the determining surface flat; is the chief reason why roof prisms are far more difficult to make than ordinary prisms. “The Group” members made 28,360 roof prisms, the equivalent of three and a half months of production by a professional producer.
Some members of “The Gang” combined forces. Uvaroff, whose superb workmanship soon brought him a large order for 300 prisms, worked as a partner of MacTavish (code name for Fred Ferson) whose second order was for 1,700. Together the men worked in a temporary barn-like building. Their combined orders for several thousand roof prisms was nearly complete, and with an exceptionally high acceptance of better than 98 percent!
Those who worked in the Roof Prism program took on 'aliases' for their protection. Thus Pavel Uvaroff, was actually Paul Linde of Crossville, his partner was not MacTavish, but actually Fred B. Ferson. It was Ferson who said, “Give all the roof prism producers fictitious names and, for fear of sabotage, omit their locations. Ferson-Linde Optical Company, of Biloxi, Mississippi, made the largest number, 11,160 of prisms for the wartime efforts. The company consisted of Ferson (MacTavish) of Biloxi and Paul Linde (Pavel Uvaroff) of Crossville, Tennessee, and one full time helper trained to do grinding. The prisms they produced had a 99 ½ percent acceptance rate, the highest among “The Gang.”
The Daily Herald August 4, 1943, said, “Fred B. Ferson and Paul Linde, formerly of Tennessee, have given up their jobs to work full time to produce high quality prisms for the military in range finders for tanks, ships, and large artillery pieces for the Franklin Arsenal. They are assisted in their shop by J. B. McElroy, and J. I. McKinzie. Since 1941, the government has given contracts to amateur lens makers to help eliminate the paucity (scarcity) of roof prism manufacturing in America.”
Ferson established Ferson Optics in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, originally to make telescopes. During the Korean War their government business grew and they quit making telescopes. They made quartz windows for experimental aircraft and the Mercury and Apollo space capsules; designed tracking cameras for White Sands and Aberdeen rocket testing programs. In the mid-1960's, Ferson's company was purchased by Bausch & Lomb.
After the war, Linde returned to Crossville and continued his optical career. This is “the rest of the story” for Paul Linde (Pavel Uvaroff) of Crossville, and his invaluable and intricate wartime service.
Sadly, his wife, Julia Jay Linde, died of cancer at the age of 65, on December 24, 1951. Paul was inconsolable. He began to drink more and more and became an alcoholic as his depression deepened. Paul Linde died at the age of 72, on August 15, 1955. His death certificate shows that he died of alcoholism, depression, and suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
We don’t always get the happy ending that we would wish for, but that still cannot overshadow the enormous contribution made during Paul Linde’s lifetime. Many of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen’s lives were saved by the work that he and this special “Gang” accomplished.