Re: Friend Benjamin Wilson GM3 Naval Armed Guard
Posted by Ron Carlson on April 19, 2009, 9:50 pm, in reply to "Friend Benjamin Wilson GM3 Naval Armed Guard"
I believe I have found some information on your father.
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, through about 1957. On ancestry.com I found records of a man who may be your father. In the first record he is listed as Friend B. Wilson, arriving in New York aboard SS GEORGE DAVIDSON as a member of the Armed Guard crew. The ship arrived on 21 November 1943 from Cochin, India. Friend B. Wilson is described as 20 years old, 6'1", 160 lbs., with scars on his left knee and chin. Does that sound like your father?
Another record on ancestry.com shows Friend B. Wilson arriving in San Francisco on 31 July 1944, from Milne Bay, New Guinea, aboard SS CAPE UGAT, also as a member of the Armed Guard crew. While there is no physical description this time, he is identified by serial number 565-08-81, and was a gunners mate 3rd class.
Finally, a third record on ancestry.com has Friend B. Wilson, still aboard CAPE UGAT, arriving in Seattle on 4 November 1944, from Biak, New Guinea, via Finchhaven, New Guinea. His serial number in this instance is shown as 365-08-81, so one of the two serial numbers is in error. His rating again was gunners mate 3rd class.
If you wish I can forward to you the names of his crew mates on each of the three voyages. I would not know, however, whether any of the men are still living, nor would I have contact information for any.
GEORGE DAVIDSON was one of the more than 2,700 Liberty ships that were built during World War II. She was built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Company, Portland, Oregon. Her keel was laid 5 May 1943, she was launched 25 May 1943, and she was completed for service on 2 June 1943, just 28 days after keel-laying (which is by no means a record for a Liberty ship). I find nothing of particular interest about her on the internet, suggesting an uneventful wartime career. She was scrapped in 1962. See http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergency/wwtwo/koregon.htm and scroll to hull #697.
CAPE UGAT was a C1-A class cargo ship, built by Bethlehem Steel Company, Beaumont, Texas. She was completed for service in December 1942. She too apparently had a rather uneventful wartime career as I can find nothing of interest on the internet about her. She was sold into private commercial service in 1947 and was eventually scrapped in 1970. See http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/2large/inactive/bethbeaumont.htm and scroll to hull #264. Also see http://www.usmm.org/c1ships.html for information about C1 cargo ships.
As next of kin you may be able to obtain your father's service record, which should show all of the ships to which he was assigned and the applicable dates, among other information. See this page on the Armed Guard website (http://www.armed-guard.com/searchre.html), in particular section II. Researching Military Service Records.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard website www.armed-guard.com