Paper pub. date
January 2004
ISBN 9780870710483 (paperback)
7-3/8 x 9-1/2 inches, 240 pages. 153 full-color and b&w illustrations. Bibliography. Index.

Waging War on the Home Front

An Illustrated Memoir of World War II

Chauncey Del French
A co-publication with the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission. Edited by Lois Mack and Ted Van Arsdol.

The United States' entry into World War II necessitated rapid mobilization of the country's shipbuilding industry. A massive national effort was needed to build ships faster than they were being sunk by the enemy. This book recounts in intelligent and delightful detail how that need was met by the home-front workforce.

Chauncey French and his wife, Jessie, were among the hundreds of thousands of workers recruited by Henry Kaiser under the U.S. Maritime Commission for the nation's wartime emergency shipbuilding program. The memoir that French began while working as a pipe fitter in the Kaiser shipyard in Vancouver, Washington, is a compelling account of how the war changed the lives of those at home. His first-hand stories relate the sometimes tense and often humorous intermingling of people — including women and African Americans in unprecedented numbers — from different backgrounds who learned to work together for a common cause.

The editors have selected and annotated more than 150 illustrations that capture the human drama, teamwork, and camaraderie that made the incredible level of production at the shipyards possible. Introductory essays, an appendix, notes, additional reading, and an index augment the author's lively narrative.

About the author

Chauncey Del French (1890–1967) lived most of his life in Salem, Oregon. Over the years he worked a number of jobs, but writing was his passion. He published magazine fiction in the 1930s under several pseudonyms, winning three True Story prizes. The biography of his father, Railroadman, received national attention when it was published in 1938.

Read more about this author

"Chauncey Del French was a keen observer of the wartime shipyard experience. His vivid descriptions brought back to me the smell of paint and noise of the chippers after sixty years. I am glad these unheralded workers have now been heard from… and grateful that this gifted writer has chronicled a unique time in Northwest history."

—Pat Koehler, author and Vancouver-Kaiser shipyard electrician

Sign Up for Our Newsletter