Edited by board administrator August 10, 2016, 10:08 am
I have found records for an Amos Whaley (listing no middle name or initial, no birth date or year, and no home state), whom I believe is your grandfather, as an Armed Guard sailor on five voyages aboard two ships in addition to GEORGE E. HALE (note full name of that ship). There are several gaps in the record, notably February to June 1943, and December 1943 to September 1944, during which he may have sailed in other ships and/or on other voyages.
SS GEORGE E. HALE
You state that your grandfather was aboard the ship in the period February-July 1943. I have been able to find only sketchy information about the voyages of this ship in June and July 1943, as follows.
June 3, 1943, departed Cristobal, Canal Zone, convoy ZG-33; June 7, 1943, arrived Guantanamo, Cuba
June 9, 1943, departed Guantanamo, convoy GK-738; June 12, 1943, arrived Key West, Florida
June 24, 1943, departed Guantanamo, Cuba, convoy GK-74; June 27, 1943, arrived Key West, Florida
July 24, 1943, departed Galveston, Texas, convoy HK-111; July 28, 1943, arrived Key West, Florida
July 29, 1943, departed Key West, convoy KN-255; Aug 3, 1943, arrived New York
SS CHATHAM C. LYON
Joined the ship about Aug 12, 1943
Rating: Seaman 1st class (S1c)
Sep 02, 1943, departed New York, convoy HX-255; Sep 16, 1943, arrived Liverpool
Sep 28, 1943, departed Liverpool, convoy ON-204; Oct 16, 1943, arrived Boston
Oct 29, 1943, departed Boston, convoy BX-80; Nov 01, 1943, arrived Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nov 1943, departed Halifax, convoy HX-264; Nov 17, 1943, arrived Liverpool
Nov 25 1943, departed Cardiff, Wales, convoy ON-213; Dec 14, 1943, arrived New York
SS MARK KEPPEL
Joined the ship Sep 13, 1944, from New Orleans Armed Guard Center; serial number (military ID number) 640-59-46
Rating: gunner’s mate 3rd class (GM3)
Sep 21 1944, departed New York, convoy HX-310; Oct 05 1944, arrived Liverpool
Oct 31 1944, departed Halifax, convoy XB-132; Nov 01 1944, arrived Boston
Nov 21 1944, departed Hampton Roads (I.e., Norfolk, Virginia), convoy UGS-61; Dec 07 1944, arrived Gibraltar
Dec 16 1944, departed Naples, Italy, convoy VN-85; Dec 18 1944, arrived Leghorn, Italy
Dec 22 1944, departed Leghorn, convoy NV-86; Dec 24 1944, arrived Naples
Jan 24 1945, departed Ancona, Italy, convoy HA-5/2; Jan 26 1945, arrived Bari, Italy
Feb 01 1945, departed Oran, Algeria, convoy GUS-69; Feb 19 1945, arrived Hampton Roads
Mar 09 1945, departed Hampton Roads, convoy UGS-79; Mar 23 1945, arrived Casablanca, Morocco
Apr 03 1945, departed Naples, convoy VN-121B; Apr 05 1945, arrived Leghorn
Apr 17 1945, departed Oran, convoy GUS-84; May 05 1945, arrived Hampton Roads
The war in Europe ended just days after the completion of this last voyage, so your grandfather may not have sailed again on this or any other ship. It is also possible that he may have been transferred to another ship operating in the Pacific until Japan surrendered in September 1945.
As to the three ships in which he served, I have found the following information. All three were Liberty ships, of which more than 2,700 were constructed from 1941 to 1945, the largest single class of ships ever built and the most common merchant marine vessel that operated during World War II.
GEORGE E. HALE was constructed by the California Shipbuilding Corporation (“CalShip”) in 45 days between December 1942 and February 1943. She was on her maiden voyage while your father was aboard. She survived the war and was scrapped in 1961 in Bellingham, Washington. See http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergencylarge/wwtwo/kcalifornia.htm and scroll to hull number 125. Also see http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsG.html and scroll to the name of the ship. George E. Hale (1868-1938), after whom the ship was named, was an American astronomer. He was Director of the Mt. Wilson Observatory 1904-1923.
CHATHAM C. LYON was built in 45 days in June-August 1943 by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. She was also on her maiden voyage while your father was aboard. She survived the war and was scrapped in 1967 in Kearny, New Jersey. See http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergencylarge/wwtwo/northcarolina.htm and scroll to hull number 179. Also see http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsC.html#CharlesW and scroll to the name of the ship. Chatham Calhoun Lyon (1850-1931) was a North Carolina Superior Court judge.
MARK KEPPEL was constructed by the California Shipbuilding Corporation (“CalShip”) in 35 days in March-April 1943. She survived the war and was scrapped in 1963 in Terminal Island, California. See http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergencylarge/wwtwo/kcalifornia.htm and scroll to hull number 172. Also see http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsM.html and scroll to the name of the ship. Mark Keppel (1867-1928) was the Superintendent of Schools for Los Angeles County, California, 1903-1928.
As noted above, there are significant time gaps in the records I found. One thing you might consider is to try to obtain a copy of your grandfather’s official military service record. Please see this page from the Armed Guard website that I manage: http://armed-guard.com/searchmil.html. In particular see section A.1. Records of Individuals - U.S. Military. You will have to contact the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO, a facility operated by the U.S. Archives. Provide as much identifying information as possible about your grandfather. (In particular, your grandfather’s serial number, 640-59-46, which I note above, is a critical piece of identifying information.) The links on the web page above will take you to the necessary pages of the Records Center web site. There will be a fee for researching, photocopying and mailing the information but the Records Center staff will not begin research without informing you of any charge. His military service record would contain such information as the ships to which he was assigned, applicable dates, training, illnesses or injuries, any decorations or medals earned, etc.
Note that someone such as yourself, who is not next of kin to your grandfather, may not be able to obtain his full service record. (Next of kin = parent, spouse, sibling, child.) If there is someone still living in your family who is next of kin to your grandfather, presumably your grandmother, mother/father or an aunt/uncle, it would be best if the request to the Records Center was submitted by that person. You can do the legwork of research, completing forms and otherwise preparing the request but the request should be signed by that person. If there is no longer a person who is next of kin still living, then make the request yourself and hope for the best.
Your grandfather was a brave man. They all were.
Good luck and best wishes.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website