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The Militant, 11 May 1946

C. Blake

Ship-Load of Food Burned
and Destroyed by Government
as Irate Workers Look On

(1 May 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 19, 11 May 1946, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


PHILADELPHIA, Pa., May 1 – Since Monday the government has been destroying and burning 2,000 tons, of fresh meats, butter, flour, canned goods and linens which are packed in the holds of the U.S.S. Exchange, an American troop transport, owned by the American Export Lines, and docked at The Cramp Shipyard for reconditioning.

While the nation is told to tighten its belt and eat less, this shipload of fresh beef, mutton, lamb, chicken; 1,500 lbs. of butter; one hold full of canned corned beef, salmon, vegetables, fruit juices; hundreds of bedsheets, towels and blankets – all of these items are being removed from the ship and are being spoiled and burned by government order.

Sailors are kept busy all day long punching holes in the canned goods to spoil the contents while all the other foods and dry goods are being unloaded and burned.

Worker Infuriated

“Even if it went on the black market it wouldn’t be as bad as burning it,” was the comment of one shipyard worker who was infuriated at the sight of this ordered destruction of wholesome, valuable, and scarce food. The sailors when asked about how they felt merely shrugged their shoulders and told us that they had seen so much waste that by now they were calloused to it.

By directive no one is permitted to walk out of the yard with this foodstuff, though it’s a known fact that the federal custom guards manage to load their cars with the stuff and haul it away.

Monday night the men had to stop burning the foodstuffs and linen in the yard on Pier 20 because of the terrific stench and smoke. The Fire Department was called upon to put out the fire. Now the food is disposed of on a dump outside the yard. Though a few days have passed since they started destroying these good things, there is so much of it, that it is still being removed and burned.

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