Was your father’s full name Shirley Ross Caylor? If so I have found a record for him and at least some of his Armed Guard shipmates aboard SS CHIEF OSCEOLA.
I found Shirley Caylor on a voyage that began on October 19, 1944, in Panama City, Florida. From Panama City CHIEF OSCEOLA proceeded to Port Arthur, Texas, and then to New Orleans, both to bring on additional crew and, perhaps, to load cargo. On or about November 3 she departed New Orleans and continued, either alone or in convoy, to Trinidad in the Caribbean. On November 16, the ship departed Trinidad in convoy TJ-51. The convoy had the destination of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but at some point CHIEF OSCEOLA and as many as three other ships detached from the convoy to sail either to South Africa or, in the case of one ship, to Australia. The four ships may have sailed in a group or completely independently; I cannot tell from the information available to me. In any case, CHIEF OSCEOLA reached port in Durban, South Africa, on December 27, 1944, and then Accra, Ghana (the country was then known as the Gold Coast), on January 21, 1945. Leaving Accra she proceeded, perhaps alone, to New York, arriving there on February 16, 1945. Your father’s Armed Guard crew mates for this voyage were as follows:
Gordon L Buerger
Joe T Cobb
David D Connors
Wayne A Connoley
Billy J Cowan
Roy S Cummings
Norman Cutshall Jr.
John H Dietrich
Howard E Drogsvold
James C Dungan
Orville S Harris
George A Koehl
Samuel S Ovino
B H Zimmerman, LT(j.g.), Armed Guard commanding officer
CHIEF OSCEOLA departed New York on February 20, 1945, to Hampton Roads (i.e., Norfolk area), Virginia. She departed Hampton Roads on March 19, 1945, in convoy UGS-81, carrying cargo that included trucks and ammunition. The convoy’s destination was Gibraltar, arriving there on April 3, 1945. From there the ships in the convoy split up and continued to a variety of ports in southern France, Italy, North Africa, Greece, and even India and Pakistan. CHIEF OSCEOLA’s ultimate destination was Odessa, Ukraine, in the Black Sea. But from here the trail grows cold. When CHIEF OSCEOLA arrived in and departed from Odessa is not indicated in the records I was able to find, nor is it clear when and at what port CHIEF OSCEOLA arrived in the United States, although she probably returned to Hampton Roads. Certainly by the time she returned to the U.S. the war in Europe was over; Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.
Per the preceding paragraph, I have been unable to find a crew list for the voyage that began at Hampton Roads on March 19; typically the crew list was submitted at the end of a voyage. The usual practice in the Navy, however, was that an Armed Guard crew remained largely intact from voyage to voyage over a period of time. Since the voyage that began on October 19, 1944, in Panama City, Florida, was the maiden voyage of CHIEF OSCEOLA, and since the Armed Guard crew on that voyage was the initial Armed Guard unit on the ship, it is likely that most of the same men served on the ship through the second voyage as well. However I cannot confirm definitively that your father was part of the Armed Guard crew on the second voyage. Note that the name of Ralph Coval, whom you identify as one of your father’s shipmates, does not appear in the crew list above but he may have been on the second voyage.
Note also that I do not know whether any of the men identified above are still living, nor would I have contact information for any who are living.
CHIEF OSCEOLA was constructed in 52 days between August 28 and October 19, 1944, by the Jones Construction Company in Panama City, Florida. See http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergencylarge/wwtwo/jonespanamacity.htm and scroll to hull number 63. She was sold to a Greek shipping company and renamed to GEORGE D. GRATSOS in 1947, grounded and damaged in 1965, and was scrapped in 1967 in Valencia, Spain. See http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsC.html#CharlesW and scroll to the name of the ship.
Postwar photographs of the ship, as GEORGE D. GRATSOS, can be found at http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=2303240, http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/s-s-george-d-gratsos, http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/s-s-george-d-gratsos-2, http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/s-s-george-d-gratsos-at-dock-2, http://www.greekshippingmiracle.org/images/SpecialSections/Libertys/First-Greek-Liberty/41_GEORGE_D_GRATSOS-2.jpg, and http://www.armed-guard.com/lsip03.html (scroll to bottom of page).
I hope this information is useful.
Your father was a brave man; they all were.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website