At the Pig and Whistle
The city was energized with round the clock activity as it strained to meet the war effort. In less than one year’s time,
(click on images to expand)
The city was massively overcrowded.
News would come from the war zones of Europe, the Pacific and
Ration stamps issued to Ruth Holliday age 36, “housewife and clerk” who lived at
From downtown taverns and bars the sounds of records by Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, the Andrews Sisters and Sinatra spilled into the streets, along with Vera Lynn- a favorite to the hundreds of homesick British sailors who temporally called
For, along with building ships for the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine,
The White Ensign of the Royal Navy.
At the start of the 1840s, “the Clearing,” as the future site of
In fact, for the first three years of
Twenty four years after the peaceful settlement of the “Oregon Question” the British were back in
Aircraft carrier themed ration stamps issued to William Holliday, age 40, “Pipe Forman” at
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Lend Lease program was implemented in March 1941 to help
As “the Arsenal for Democracy” the
It was an order to build fifteen freighters for
Russian crews, often captained by women, attracted much attention in
Thus, the Elijah P. Lovejoy became the Alexander Suvorer, the Henry L. Pittock became the Ashkold and the Henry L. Corbett the Alexander Minsky.
The H.M.S. Tracker on the
-From “Good Fellows All” by Ann Grace Chapple.
In 1943, eight escort carriers were built in
The ships, essentially flight decks mounted on freighter hulls, were identical to
Program for the commissioning of the H.M.S. Slinger,
Order of Ceremony; the ship (the U.S.S. Chathem) was handed over by the Vice President of Willamette Iron and Steel to the
The crews were a long way from home.
Jack Hill of the H.M.S. Slinger recalled (on royalnavyresearch.org) leaving the Devonport Naval Barracks at
When they got to
The corner of SW Park and SW Morrison. -From “Good Fellows All” by Ann Grace Chapple.
To give the sailors a taste of home while in Portland, the White Ensign Club (named for the banner of the Royal Navy) was established on the second floor of the building on the southwest corner of Park and Morrison. Ann Grace Chapple, Secretary of the British War Relief’s
Ann Grace Chapple.
The White Ensign Club opened on December 22 1942 with piping by the Clan Macleay Pipe Band and a live broadcast by KOIN radio. The club took up the second floor of #721 SE Park in a space in space provided by the Zell Brothers rent-free which had been last used by The Shanghai Café, a Chinese Restaurant that closed in 1937.
It was a place to relax and catch up reading the Illustrated London News, the Liverpool Daily Post, Newcastle’s Sunday Sun, the Cardiff Weekly Mail and the Glasgow Daily Record.
It was where native cuisine; scones, hard boiled eggs, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and especially tea could be had.
Through British War Relief, housing was arraigned and local activities set up. Darts, pool and ping-pong played. Dances were held with local hostesses and an all female orchestra called the Mountain Jennies. Over 600 books, donated by Portlanders filled the library.
American Football proved a big hit, with the White Ensign Club playing the Albina Roughnecks to a tie at least three times in
In the back of the club was a pub, the Pig & Whistle, perhaps
Pool at the Pig & Whistle. Note the map of
-From “Good Fellows All” by Ann Grace Chapple.
The crews stayed in
Happily, all eight of the British escort carriers survived the war. Like many of their kind, they were reconverted to freighters and sold to shipping companies around the world. By the mid 1970s all had been scrapped.
The White Ensign Club closed in 1945, after taking care of a group of sixty eight members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force from bases in
The building that held the White Ensign club at SW Park and Morrison was built in 1917, designed by architect John V. Bennes. It still exists.
But not for long. The building was remodeled for the Zell Brothers in 1949 by architectural firm of Dougan, Himes and Cain. It is set to be demolished for the building of the new 410 foot tall
A block and a half away, on Broadway between Morrison an Alder, the
After the closure of the club and the publication of “Good Fellows All” by Anne Grace Chapple in 1945, the White Ensign Club faded from
It probably lingered longer with the British sailors looking back from half a world away.
Or, as Don Woodman of the H.M.S. Tracker wrote in his poem “To Portland”
No one supposes I’ll come again.
Yet ere my way I’m wending,
Friendship is mine unending…
So fellow Portlanders,
May I suggest the next time,
At the Horsebrass, the Moon and Sixpence
or the Rose and Thistle,
We raise a glass to the Pig and Whistle!
Coffee ration stamps issued to Pauline Clark Peterson at
“Good Fellows All, the Story of the White Ensign Club” by Ann Grace Chapple.
“Architectural Guidebook to
“Fleeting Opportunities: Women Shipyard Workers in
“The Growth of a City” by E. Kimbark MacColl.
“Henry J. Kaiser, Builder of the American West” by Mark S. Foster.
“Vanport” by Manly Maben.
My name is Tony Drury, I am a Naval Historian and web master of the Royal Navy Research Archive web site.
We have a common interest in the Portland built escort carriers; I wonder if you could e-mail me?
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