Re: Joseph T. Poncurak Gunners Mate May 1944 MT Hunter
Posted by Ron Carlson on April 19, 2009, 8:35 pm, in reply to "Joseph T. Poncurak Gunners Mate May 1944 MT Hunter"
Message modified by board administrator April 19, 2009, 11:51 pm
As you realize, it is unlikely that anyone reading this message board would have known your father, but you never know.
I have found some information about your father that you may find interesting.
The ship that you identify as M T HUNTER was probably named ROBERT M. T. HUNTER, one of the many Liberty ships built during World War II.
The website ancestry.com is more often used for genealogical research but shows the arrival of passengers and ship's crews in various U.S. ports, especially New York City, from about 1820 through about 1957. On ancestry.com I found a record of your father, Joseph Poncurak, service number 816-38-86, seaman 1st class, arriving in New York aboard ROBERT M. T. HUNTER as a member of the Armed Guard crew. The ship arrived on 11 May 1944 from Casablanca, from which it had sailed on 25 April.
In addition to your father, these are the names of the men in the Armed Guard crew on ROBERT M. T. HUNTER:
Bapties, Clarence Edward
Bloter, David Charles
Bodo, Eugene Frank
Boulay, Adelard Joseph
Chrysler, Dale Leonard
Cranford, Leon Booker
Davies, Jonah A., LT (senior officer in charge)
Dunn, John William
Eichstaedt, Herbert Fredrick
Farmer, Leatrio Lesmon
Fava, Leo Joseph
Holt, Robert Lewis
Jone, Wallace Martin
LaLiberte, Roger Joseph
McCaffrey, Edward James
McKonn, William Mark
McNamara, James Francis
Miller, Wade Violith
Mitchell, George Terry
Newshan, Edwin George
Proper, Robert Emmit
Semple, Royer D., ENS (communications officer)
Stapleton, Carl Edward
Stones, Vincent Joseph
Travena, Edward William
Turner, Thomas Edward
VanVoorhis, Gale Francis
Waller, Russel B., LT (junior officer in charge)
This is an unusually large Armed Guard crew for a Liberty ship; the usual size would have been about 28 men, including one officer. The large size of this crew suggests ROBERT M. T. HUNTER operated as a troopship, which would have meant it carried more defensive guns and therefore needed a larger Armed Guard gun crew. Indeed, this page from the excellent website, American Merchant Marine at War, confirms that ROBERT M. T. HUNTER was a troop ship: http://www.usmm.org/troopships.html.
Another website, Convoy Web, lists 29 convoys in which ROBERT M. T. HUNTER sailed between June 1943 and April 1945. It appears that your father sailed with ROBERT M. T. HUNTER from Algiers to Casablanca in convoy GUS-36, and from Casablanca to the U.S. in convoy GUS-37. The latter convoy included 147 merchant ships and 15 escort warships. See
http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/gus/index.html?gus.php?convoy=36!~gusmain and http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/gus/index.html?gus.php?convoy=37!~gusmain.
The corresponding earlier east-bound convoy may have been convoy UGS-33 departing Hampton Roads (Norfolk), Virginia on 13 February 1944. ROBERT M. T. HUNTER is listed as carrying 490 troops to Oran, Algeria. The ship continued to Algiers in convoy UGS-35, traveling from Oran to Algiers. See http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/ugs/index.html?ugs.php?convoy=33!~ugsmain and http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/ugs/index.html?ugs.php?convoy=35!~ugsmain.
The ship itself was built by the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation, Savannah, Georgia. The keel was laid 11 December 1942, she was launched 28 March 1943, and was completed for service on 11 May 1943. She apparently had a rather uneventful wartime career as I can find nothing of interest on the internet about her, until she was scrapped in 1971. See http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergency/wwtwo/southeastern.htm and scroll to hull #8.
See this page for possible sources of photographs of World War II-era merchant ships: http://www.usmm.org/photosource.html.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard website www.armed-guard.com