I have not come across the term or concept of “commodore’s crew” in all my research and reading about the Armed Guard. So I cannot comment definitively on the question you raise. You are correct that each convoy had a senior merchant marine officer who was designated the convoy commodore and who sailed in one of the merchant vessel in that convoy. The convoy commodore was in general overall command of all of the merchant ships in the convoy and, along with the naval escort commander, in charge of the convoy and its escorts as a whole. The convoy commodore’s formal designation and responsibility ended once the convoy reached its destination although the same officer might be designated convoy commander in subsequent convoys.
However, the fact that your uncle was a radioman is significant, in my opinion. The convoy commander had to maintain communications with all of the merchant ships in the convoy (often dozens or scores of ships) as well as maintain communication with the naval escort commander aboard a naval vessel. So there would have been, I assume, a particular need for competent, experienced radiomen and signalmen to be assigned to the commodore’s vessel. Perhaps it was this cadre of radiomen and signalmen that would have been considered the “commodore’s crew.” On the other hand, the Armed Guard gunners assigned to the commodore’s vessel would have had no different assignment in practice than the Armed Guard gunners assigned to any other ship in the convoy. There would have been no obvious need to augment the number of gunners on the commodore’s vessel, or to assign particularly experienced gunners. By this reasoning I conclude that the Armed Guard gunners would not have been considered a part of the “commodore’s crew” (other than in the literal fact that they were members of the crew aboard the commodore’s ship) whereas the radiomen and signalmen, who addressed a particular need of the commodore, might have been considered the “commodore’s crew.” But even if this speculation is correct, I cannot say whether a given group of radiomen and signalmen would have been kept together and assigned as a group to another convoy commodore or would have been assigned randomly to future convoys.
If you would be willing to share your uncle’s name, I would be interested in researching his shipboard assignments. I might be able to detect a pattern by which he was repeatedly assigned to ships with the same radiomen and signalmen (suggesting an organized or designated crew) or whether he was assigned along with a changing number of radiomen and signalmen (suggesting the opposite).
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website