Posts Tagged ‘Victory ship’

‘Song of the Victory Fleet’

posted on March 5, 2014

By Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer 

“Whenever and wherever Americans gather, there you hear Americans singing, because America is a singing nation.”

F&A 1944-05-26-3-det

“Our Merchant Ships Deliver the Goods” infographic, Fore ‘n’ Aft (Kaiser Richmond Shipyards newsletter) 5/26/1944

This is the stirring introduction to a recording of patriotic music from the Oct. 27, 1945, launching celebration of the SS Bent’s Fort, the last tanker built in the Kaiser Swan Island Shipyards in Portland, Oregon, under the wartime contract.

“Song of the Victory Fleet” is performed by “The Singing Sentinels,” four Oregon Shipbuilding Company security guards (Del Von Zuethen, Chuck Faris,   John “Ken” Rogers and Mel Gordon) who provided entertainment at ship launchings and other
events.
[i]

After the war they continued as the “Kaiser-Frazer Singing Sentinels” at the Willow Run automobile plant in Michigan.[ii]

We’ll build and sail ‘em – We’ll never fail ‘em!
The Victory Fleet will be complete we know.

On every ocean, we’ll be in motion,
The Victory Fleet will soon defeat the foe.

We’ll have a bridge of ships beyond compare,
We’ll soon be able to walk from here to over there.

The world is cheering! The skies are clearing!
With the Victory Fleet – Let’s go.

“Song of the Victory Fleet”
words and music by
Leonard Whiteup, 1942 (1903-1979)

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Employees open house, Richmond shipyard #2, part of 1945 Martime Day observances.
Click on graphic to hear the Singing Sentinels perform “Song of the Victory Fleet”

“Song of the Victory Fleet” was first performed May 22, 1942, at the initial wartime observance of National Maritime Day.

It was dedicated to the U.S. Maritime Commission, and immediately adopted as theirs.

Congress established National Maritime Day in 1933 to honor our country’s role in marine transportation; at the time the Merchant Marine was quite small. But that all changed with World War II .

Absent from this recording is the interlude:

In the fact’ries hear the hammers night and day.
In the shipyards everyone is on his way.

On the ocean every seaman joins the fray.
We heard the bugles blow! We answered our country’s call!

We’re ready one and all!

Journalist Peter Edson, writing his column for the Times Daily, had this to say when the song premiered:

“The song is one of those rousing sea chanteys that even a landlubber building lifeboats in Kokomo can limber up his larynx on and get a belt out of bellowing or barber shopping.

“And when you accompany the tune with full orchestration and sound effects of riveting hammers, clanking anchor chains and the blowing of full-lunged baritone and bass steamship whistles – matey, it does something to your morale.

“Morale building is the big idea behind observance of Maritime Day this year and this whole shipping program is something to give your spine a tingle. It isn’t just something to celebrate on salt water, either, with maybe the Great Lakes thrown in for good measure.

“There will be big celebrations in the 60 shipyards where, on some 300 ways, ocean-going ships are under construction.”

After the war, celebrations of service focused on those in the military, and merchant mariners were left out of the festivities. Maritime Day ceased, but in 1970 the Maritime Administration resurrected this observance of honoring veterans of the merchant marine and those who gave their lives in service to the United States. That observance has been held every year since then.

Hear the Singing Sentinels perform “Song of the Victory Fleet”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTW5TEYOoXs

 Short link to this story: http://bit.ly/1cCZjRh


[i] Article on the Singing Sentinels, http://weirdportland.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-singing-sentinels.html

[ii] Article in Saline (MI) Observer 3/20/1947

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Climb the gangplank to learn about World War II’s social legacy

posted on March 13, 2010

 

Photo courtesy of Red Oak Victory

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

If you grew up in the Bay Area, or anywhere in America for that matter, you’re missing the boat if you haven’t been out to experience the Red Oak Victory ship docked on the Richmond waterfront.

Granted it’s difficult to find, and in fact, you may never have heard of it. Not to worry, most people haven’t yet visited the Rosie the Riveter National Park where the ship is found.

The Red Oak Victory, built in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards in 1944, is a huge hulk of seaworthy steel that embodies a million stories pertinent to our society’s past.

The ammunition ship, saved from scrap in 1998 by the Richmond Museum of History, serves as the chief artifact of the home front city’s museum collection. Volunteers have renovated much of the ship, which carried essential cargo for battles in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. www.ssredoakvictory.com

Richmond, and other Bay Area shipyards, figured fantastically in WWII home front America. The Bay Area was radically changed forever by the phenomenal influx of 200,000 shipyard workers and their families from around the nation. Every type of individual was represented in the newly configured social structure of California.

The legacy of World War II’s sociological impact is fully explored and documented in books and other items in the Red Oak’s museum gift shop. Notable examples are: “To Place Our Deeds” by Shirley Ann Wilson Moore; and “World War II Shipyards by the Bay” by Nicholas A. Veronico.

Red Oak's main mast

Red Oak’s main mast

Just a few changes nudged by the war: Women working with men in industrial settings for equal pay; blacks and minorities working with whites for comparable pay; the emergence of professional child care centers; employment for the disabled; and affordable prepaid preventive health care provided by employers.
The medical care program started in the wartime shipyards lives on as Kaiser Permanente and is well documented in Tom Debley’s book “Dr. Sidney R. Garfield: The Visionary Who Turned Sick Care into Health Care,” published in 2009 by Permanente Press.

Changes in the status of women and minorities largely reverted after the war, but the seeds were deeply planted for the civil rights and women’s liberation movements of the 1960s.

Now for my confession: I grew up in Richmond, and I had never seen the shipyards or the Red Oak Victory until recently. My first visit to the floating museum was only a few weeks ago. Bay Area Historian Steve Gilford, a director on the museum board, gave me two tours of Shipyard 3 and the Red Oak. My eyes were opened to the treasure that is preserved in the depths of this honey-combed hunk of war grey welded and riveted steel.

The ship experience starts with a climb up the gangplank, a portable, suspended aluminum staircase to the main deck. From there, you step over the raised rims of the hatchways and navigate steel ladders to the various compartments of the midship house and the deckhouse. Down from the main deck you’ll find the museum, gift shop, and meeting room in a cleaned-up cargo hold.

Red Oak’s industrial mixer for batter

One cheery way to introduce yourself to the historic waterfront is to partake of the $6 pancake breakfast offered on the Red Oak Victory once a month from April to October. The first one for 2010 is April 11.

To get to the Red Oak Victory, take I80 to 580 West. Stay on the freeway past the Rosie the Riveter park exit and take Canal Boulevard instead. Follow Canal all the way to the bay and wind your way through the industrial area to Berth 6A.

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