According to Major W. R. Wheeler in A Road to Victory, Camp Patrick Henry (CPH) was formally activated on December 2, 1942 as a staging area for troops heading overseas and returning home. Between this time and January 31, 1946, an estimated 1,412,107 people passed through the camp. CPH was divided into regimental areas, many with their own mess halls. There was also a post office, hospital, chapel, and theaters. But what did it actually look like?
We have come across many photos of buildings within the camp. Here are five that give good insight into the types of buildings one could find there. Their locations in CPH are noted on the map above using corresponding numbers.Read more
This month’s fun fact is about our Great Hall of Steam exhibition, which is our gallery that includes many large ship models. What many may or may not know is that a good number of the models exhibited were built here at the museum. On July 19, 1932, we opened a ship model shop for the purpose of creating models that could be displayed.
When the work began, they decided to do models of contemporary ships so that the plans from the actual ships could be used. Most of these ended up being ships that had been built at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. The first model the shop started working on was that of President Hoover of the Dollar Line, although a model of the tug John Twohy, Jr. was finished first.Read more
Our first poster is obviously a WWII poster and encourages people to remember Pearl Harbor and join the Coast Guard to help defend the country. The image was done by Charles Rosner. The second poster has pretty much the same message as the first, just without mention of Pearl Harbor. Both of these posters were used in a recruiting office in Norfolk, VA, which is probably how we ended up with them. The third poster is one of my favorites, I guess because I don’t generally associate space travel with the Navy. It is ca 1955 with an unknown artist.
“Pour it on” is a great poster from 1942 by artist Jarret Price. It was made by the United States War Production Board and it looks as though we might have received our copy from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, which would make sense because we have received many posters from them. The second is another WWII poster and features a sad, but true, message about the inhabitants of Lidice, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). The third poster ca 1950’s/60’s encourages women to join the Navy and shows three different positions they can hold. It was done by artist Lou Nolan.
This time we have some posters from WWII era. The first one encourages those on the home front to work on a farm during the summer for the US Crop Corps so that food can continued to be produced for our troops overseas. The second one is a bit more startling and implies that Nazi’s are the enemy and a threat to Christianity. The third is a piece that came from Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and encourage the worker’s to keep producing so that the military would have what it needed.
The first one in this grouping also comes from Newport News Shipbuilding and encourages people to carpool to work. I’ve always enjoyed the rhymes that go along with the Shipyard posters. The second poster is WWI era and has the pastel colors and imagery that I always find so appealing. It was done by artist James Montgomery Flagg to help recruit men to the Navy. The last poster is also a recruiting poster, but from WWII. I know that Lee is generally thought well of, but it seems weird to see his face on a poster for WWII. Perhaps this piece was aimed at a particular audience.
When asked to work on this collections blog, my supervisor asked what artifacts in particular drew my attention. It’s a little awkward to say, but I’ve always been a fan of wartime histories and I may or may not have responded with a jubilant “WAR,” which sounds worse when you excitedly exclaim it in front of people. Regardless of my intern embarrassment, my declaration has ensured that I often get to focus on war relics, such as this month’s artifact, a metal eagle ornament from SS Leviathan. The eagle is a decorative metal piece that would have been displayed on the interior of the ship following its renovations. It’s two toned in color, with a blueish colored body, and gilt accents on the feathers and legs. It’s pictured twice below, once in color, and once in black and white so that it is easier to see the detailing on the piece.
Leviathan was originally SS Vaterland, a passenger liner built at Hamburg, Germany. In 1914, she was the biggest ship in the world, but only made a couple of trips prior to the outbreak of World War I. Vaterland had just arrived in New York when war was declared, and was therefore unable to return to Germany. Prior to this, she had made only three round trips between New York and Europe. Instead she remained in a terminal in New Jersey for three years until the United States entered the war in 1917. At that point, Vaterland was taken and turned over to the U.S. Navy, who renamed her Leviathan and kept her in service as a troop ship until 1919. Following the conclusion of the war, Leviathan again found herself in limbo, until she was sent to the Newport News Shipyard in southern Virginia to undergo a complete overhaul and renovations to turn her back into a passenger liner. Her renovation was actually supervised by William Frances Gibbs, the naval architect who would later design SS United States, and the owner of two of the baseballs that were featured in our April Artifact of the Month.Read more