Important information source for finding AG and merchant marine crews
Posted by Ron Carlson on April 30, 2008, 4:35 pm
Message modified by board administrator May 1, 2008, 9:50 am
I have just learned about an exceedingly useful source of information for finding World War II Armed Guard and merchant marine personnel.
The website www.ancestry.com, which is more commonly used for genealogical research purposes, has lists of passenger arrivals for the Port of New York for the period 1820 through 1957. Apparently World War II Armed Guard and merchant marine personnel were reported to U.S. Customs as "passengers" when their ships arrived at a U.S. port.
I searched first for our friend Tom Bowerman. There are at least three records for him, appearing as Thomas Roy Bowerman, Thomas R. Bowerman and Thos. Bowerman. He arrived in New York on July 1, 1943, September 18, 1943, and February 12, 1944, aboard the SS CHARLES SUMNER (two voyages) and the SS LEWIS LUCKENBACH. From information on the Armed Guard website, I know that these are two of the five ships in which Tom sailed during World War II. In each record he is listed as a gunners mate (third class in two cases, second class in one case) so he is clearly a member of the Armed Guard crew although "Armed Guard" does not specifically appear in these records. And in each case Tom is listed along with the entire Armed Guard crew on that ship for that arrival date. The names of the merchant crew of the same ship are also listed.
I searched for the names of other Armed Guard and merchant marine crewmen that I know and easily found some of them as well.
So, any Armed Guard sailors or merchant mariners who arrived in New York during World War II should be part of the passenger records found at ancestry.com. And anyone in the Armed Guard who was assigned to the Brooklyn Armed Guard Center could very well have sailed into New York any number of times (but could also have returned to U.S. ports other than New York, in which case they may not be in these records). You can search by name, approximate birth year, port of departure, port of arrival, name of ship, arrival year, and other keywords, or any combination of these.
You need to establish a subscription to use ancestry.com which costs $19.95 for one month, and currently includes an initial 14-day free trial period. Other longer subscriptions are available at cheaper per-month rates. And it looks like you can cancel within the 14-day trial period and end up paying nothing. So if you want to make only a few searches to find one person and/or his shipmates, the one-month subscription should work for you. If you are interested in more extensive searches, to assist your friends, for example, try a longer subscription. Click on the "Subscribe" button in the upper right corner of the ancestry.com homepage for subscription information.
I'm telling ya, this is great!
Ron Carlson, Webmaster