Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

First controversial news story – Mary Woodward (OH0080)


To backtrack just a little before Pearl Harbor, I think it was the summer before, there was… we were neutral in the war. Being neutral means you’re not giving aid to either side in the war. But we were repairing British ships in naval shipyards. Bainbridge is situated so that any ship that goes into Bremerton Naval Shipyard has to pass within several hundred feet of Bainbridge Island. So when the Warspite — which had been involved in a very bloody battle in the Mediterranean, Crete, I think — they brought it in to Bremerton for repairs.

The description my parents gave watching the ship go by, they said you could still see blood and evidence of the conflict on the boat as it went by. Everybody on the island knew it was there… from people in Port Angeles. It’s was a big ship and it was coming into Puget Sound, and people knew and it was a British ship and there were British sailors who were going in for shore leave taking the Bremerton run into Seattle. So it was, it was well known in the Northwest that that was what was here.

The Navy requested that the news media impose a voluntary censorship on this, to not publish that. The three Seattle papers — there was the Seattle Star, the PI, and the Times at that time — they all went along with that and didn’t publish anything. My folks thought that they had an obligation to their readers to report the news and this was news, and it also wasn’t anything that was a secret. I think part of it was, that they also wanted to let maybe someone in Kansas who hadn’t seen the ship go by, at least have some paper recording that it had. So they published it and they said the Warspite was here. They sent copies of their article to both Associated Press and United Press International, the two wire services. AP ignored it but UPI picked it up and so did the Chicago Tribune and Time Magazine.

Time magazine wrote an article about them, saying that this… they had a very interesting description of the Review, which I can’t quote exactly, but something like a “suburban weekly” which, at that time Bainbridge was not a suburb of anything, it was just this little back water. “Suburban weekly brightly edited by Seattleites,” which also wasn’t true, they were from Bainbridge, but they said that they had published this and it was courageous for them to do that. Within a couple of weeks, the Navy published a pretty complete list of all the other British ships that were being repaired in naval shipyards around the nation. They just felt… that was, I think, sort of the hallmark of what they did. This is part of what we need to do. We need to be honest with our readers and so they published it.

Video Interview — August, 2007

Mary Woodward

Mary Woodward Pratt is the youngest daughter of Walt and Milly Woodward, owners of the Bainbridge Review during World War Two. The Review was the only newspaper to use its editorials to consistently speak out against the exclusion and internment of Japanese Americans. In 2008 Mary authored the book In Defense of our Neighbors, which records how the Review helped create an environment that was friendly to those who, like the editors, strongly opposed the exclusion.