Fore River Shipyard

Accession Number



PRATT, Subgroup Coppers


In the summer of 1941, Marshfield Chief of Police William H. Pratt resigned after 5 years of service. It is thought that this was the last position he held in law enforcement. By April of 1942 he was employed at the Fore River Shipyard.* We don’t know what precipitated the career change. It is possible that his reputation was irreparably damaged when the MA Registrar of Motor Vehicles, Frank Goodwin, suspended his license for 10 days** in April of 1941. Another explanation could be that William H. Pratt was not satisfied with his salary. It has been established that the Marshfield Police Department was underfunded*** and Pratt may have been enticed by the possibility of earning more money at the Fore River Shipyard. While we don’t know exactly when Pratt was hired at the Fore River Shipyard, the timing of his resignation from the Marshfield Police Department coincides with a tremendous expansion of their operations as World War I brought a sharp increase in military defense construction. In August of 1941, Fore River Shipyard was building a 35,000 ton battle ship, four 30,000 ton airplane carriers, eight 13,000 ton heavy cruisers, two 6,000 ton light cruisers, four 2100 ton destroyers in addition to many other smaller vessels. After his illustrious military service in World War I (see PRATT.3.1916/TEXAS RANGER) and 15 years of chasing criminals, Pratt, being a man of action, surely felt right at home at Fore River with “its bedlam of noise, its sights, the immensely impressive bulk of its equipment, the incessant activity of thousands of workers.” This was no desk job and a position at the Fore River Shipyard would have provided the 48-year old patriotic Pratt the opportunity to serve his country once again.

*The Fore River Shipyard was established in Braintree, MA in 1883 and later moved to Quincy where it grew into one of the largest shipyards in the country with military contracts and civilian clients. In 1931, the largest passenger vessel ever built in a New England shipyard, the SS Borinquen (see SNOW.3.1934/CRUISE), was launched from Fore River.
** (see PRATT.5.1938/SCARPA) Proponents of this theory concede that Pratt likely had the support of the community given Registrar of Motor Vehicles Frank Goodwin’s flimsy reasoning for the suspension and his reputation for “stern justice.”
***The force lacked a proper police station when Pratt was hired, was in need of new equipment and uniforms (see PRATT.5.1938/SCARPA), and did not have enough vehicles to police the 1940 Marshfield Fair (see PRATT.1.1934/GOODWIN)


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“Fore River Shipyard,” Institute for Clew Studies, accessed March 24, 2019,