Friday, May 16, 2014

WW1 Ship Camouflage Secrecy & Arrests

USS Leviathan in camouflage (1918)
Above Close-up view of the port side camouflage of the USS Leviathan, at South Side Pier No. 4, Hoboken NJ on April 19, 1918, three days after Childe Hassam's arrest (see story below). US Naval Historical Center 51394.


From Roy R. Behrens, CAMOUPEDIA: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage. Bobolink Books, 2009, pp. 182-183—

[Frederick] Childe (pronounced "child") Hassam was an important American impressionist, and a member of a group of artists known as The Ten. He was an admirer of Abbott H. Thayer and was well acquainted with the latter's theories of natural camouflage. He was also an early supporter of the efforts of younger artists to serve as WW1 camoufleurs.

As reported in the New York Times (CHILDE HASSAM ARRESTED, 1918), he was arrested and turned over to federal authorities on April 16, 1918, in Riverside Park when a New York policeman observed him making a sketch of a camouflaged US transport ship, anchored in the harbor. He was quickly released, then later used the drawing to produce a lithograph titled Camouflage, which signed "arrested for this Childe Hassam, 1918."


Anon, NAUGHTY FILMS SEIZED: Bathing-Suit Girls and Waterfront Scenes Interest Amateurs, in the Morning Oregonian (Portland OR), June 7, 1918, p. 7—

What is said to be the most unusual photographic exhibit collected in Portland is in the hands of Chief of Police Johnson. The collections comprises pictures taken along the waterfront and on islands in the Williamette River and includes pictures from camouflaged ships to bathing suit girls.

The pictures are from films confiscated by the police.

"Some are, well, just naughty, and I intend to destroy them so as not to cause anyone any embarrassment," said Chief Johnson. "Unless camera fiends use precautions they will be subject to arrest and punishment. No one is allowed to take photographs on the waterfront, without special permission from the Government."


From MORE UNIONS THREATEN TO HOLD UP SHIPBUILDING, in Rogue River Courier (Grants Pass OR), March 31, 1918, p. 1—

NEW YORK, March 30—The work of camouflaging ships in this harbor may be brought to a halt next week unless the demands of ship painters for a raise in pay is granted.

The painters, who now get 60 cents an hour, ask for an increase of 20 cents and threaten to strike tomorrow unless their demands are granted.