"Hard service, good benefits" - what do you think?
Posted by Ron Carlson on December 2, 2008, 10:58 am
I came across this letter to the editor (Nov 27, 2008) in the online edition of The Record of North Jersey; see http://www.northjersey.com/news/nationalpolitics/35175419.html?c=y&page=2 and scroll down. I will not include the name of the author of the letter, although it appears in the original. |
I post it below for your review and, in particular, your reaction, whether from Armed Guard and merchant marine veterans or others.
What do you think about the statement in the first paragraph that the matter of merchant mariners deserving credit for their service has been addressed and acknowledged? How about the implication in the fourth paragraph that civilian merchant crewmen "waited inside" while the Armed Guard on deck defended ships from attack? "Better food"? "Beer and liquor ration"? "Higher rate of pay"? (True but with many caveats.) Merchant mariners "could select" the ships on which they wished to serve? (Also true but again with caveats.)
Thoughts, reactions, discussion are all welcome.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Hard service, good benefits
I agree with "Merchant mariners deserve equal credit" (Your View, Nov. 20) that full recognition of the merchant marine had been long overdue. But in recent years, the U.S. government and veterans organizations have addressed the problem and acknowledged this civilian service.
The assertion that the merchant ships were unarmed or unprotected is a little melodramatic. Most American transports had an armed contingent of the U.S. Navy aboard. Sailors of the U.S. Navy Armed Guard were assigned to these ships to man weapons, including anti-aircraft guns.
As the war went on, destroyers and corvettes of the U.S. and Canadian navies protect the convoys for the entire trip. They were also protected by air cover after leaving North America and arriving near England.
Civilian merchant mariners could select ships they wished to serve on, a privilege not given to U.S. Navy personnel. They also received a higher rate of pay than the government-paid sailors on deck shooting at the attacking planes while the civilians waited inside.
I met two Navy Armed Guard veterans. They told me that the merchant sailors had better food, plus a beer and liquor ration, something the average sailor could get only in port. And they both agreed that many of the merchant seamen took every opportunity to remind the young sailors of how well they were treated.