Boston December 16, 2017
12 Very Rare Photos Taken During WWII In Boston
Between 1939 and 1945, World War II raged across the globe. The scale of the conflict meant that everyone was affected, including those far from the fighting. In Boston, some residents went off to war; those who stayed behind dealt with constant worry for their loved ones. As a port city, Boston was a center for shipbuilding and maintenance and, at MIT, people worked in secret effort to develop new radar technology.
The everyday lives of Bostonians changed as well. Every household felt the effects of rationing and more women entered the workforce, taking over positions left vacant by the men who’d joined the military. Overall, these years were a time of tumult and transition. These 12 shots provide a hint at life in Boston during World War II:
1. A worker at a converted food machinery plant, in 1942.
Many factories were repurposed to help the war effort. This Boston food machinery plant used to make cube steak machines. During the war, its employees worked on the spouts for anti-tank guns instead.
2. A woman reading blueprints at the Gillette Company in Boston around 1942.
We all know that the Gillette razor was invented here, but fewer of us are aware that the plant manufactured tool posts during the war.
3. An aerial shot of Castle Island and Fort Independence taken around 1942.
4. Taken in 1942, this shot provides an aerial perspective of the Boston Naval Shipyard.
Most of the ships you can see are destroyers.
5. This is the U.S.S. Barton on the day it went into active service on 29 May, 1942. The ship went on to receive four battle stars.
This image shows the destroyer sailing through Boston Harbor. On November 12, 1942, the U.S.S. Barton was involved in the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal against the Japanese.
Bad weather made a fierce fight even more challenging. The U.S.S. Barton had just unloaded its torpedoes when it had to brake to avoiding a collision with the U.S.S. Helena. While it was stationary, Japanese torpedoes struck the ship’s boiler room and engine room. The ensuing blast tore the U.S.S. Barton in half. The boat sank and killing most of the men on board. There were 42 survivors.
6. Crew members with the U.S.S. Mason on the day it went into active service at the Boston Navy Yard on March 20, 1944. The destroyer escorted conveys in the Atlantic during the war.
The U.S.S. Mason was groundbreaking because it was the first vessel to have an all-black crew led by white officers. When the storm of the century hit, the U.S.S. Mason was escorting merchant ships to the U.K. Close to the English coast, the Mason’s deck split apart. Despite the weather and severity of the damage, the crew repaired the vessel and successfully guided the convey to its destination.
7. A battleship at the Boston Navy Yard in 1943.
The Charlestown Navy Yard played a key part in the war effort. During World War II, 151 boats were constructed here and another 5,000 were serviced in the yard.
8. The Rowes Wharf station in 1942, when it had already closed.
The station was demolished and its steel used for the war effort.
9. Officials at the dedication of the John Harvard Mall in 1943.
Second from the right is Maurice J. Tobin who was Mayor of Boston at the time.
10. A car headed for the Braves Field loop in 1943.
The old Braves Field has since been absorbed by Boston University. It's now called Nickerson Field.
11. The intersection where Huntington Avenue meets Francis Street in 1943.
Some of the same buildings still stand, although the businesses inside them have changed.
12. It’s easy to recognize Boston Common in this photo from 1944.
What’s less familiar? The sight of it being plowed to create a victory garden.
Which of these images do you find most surprising or intriguing? Do you think Boston has changed a lot over the years?
You may also be interested in our past article: “
Here Are The Oldest Photos Ever Taken In Boston And They’re Incredible.”