Re: Armed Guard questions
Posted by Al Burnham on December 9, 2010, 2:47 am, in reply to "Re: Armed Guard questions"
Fresh out of Boot camp, Sampson, N.Y. I went to Armed Guard school at Camp Shelton, Norfolk. Then to the A.G.C. Brooklyn. Was only there two days before being assigned to the SS Alexander Martin in New York. Well at the center for this short time I was kept busy with night vision test, clothing update,airplane identification and etc. No liberty. The ship was loading supplies for Africa when we boarded. Did get liberty in New york. Kept busy on board the ship
checking guns and equipment. Loading munitions. Getting acquainted with our gun assignments and ship. Life boat assignment. Sleeping quarters and
etc. This was all new to me. Left N. Y. and joined Convoy UGS-48 at Norfolk July 14,1944. To the Medlterranean and around Africa then back to the USA by South America and to Philadelphia. Half of the crew left the ship for reassignment. I was one of the crew selected to stay on. During
loading and repairs we had liberty. But we also had to get our guns in shape and restore our ammo
for the next trip. I did manage to make a quick trip home to Maine. Most of it was spent on trains and Buses. We also had to paint our gun tubs and ammo storage lockers. This was a long layover but as I remember very little idle time. The sacond trip on the Alexander Martin was about
the same except we took supplies to Iran to be transported to Russia. Then back to the USA and the whole gun crew departed the ship at Baltimore
and sent back to the Brooklyn A.G.Center for reassignment. I spent 10 months on this ship. After 5 days at the A.G.C. I was given 20 days leave and went home to Maine. The 5 days at the center you were kept busy with various assignments. If you wasn't training you had a job to do. It could be scrubing floors, working in the Kitchen, like breaking eggs, peeling potatoes, working on the chow line, cleaning toilets and etc. No idle time while at these centers.
Note. On the first trip a gun crew member had a
appendix rupture as we pulled into Beira Portugese East Africa. This was a neutral port. He was operated on by a German Doctor. Merchant ships had no Doctors or medical personal.
Second trip we had a GM3c that had serious infection develope. A British Army Doctor advised he be hospitalized immediately. He was detached at Suez, Egypt. Jan.13,1945. We picked up a GM3c replacement Feb.5,1945 in Iran. So they
kept track of sailors stranded.
After my leave was over to Maine and I reported back to the Brooklyn A.G.C. The next day I was on the bulletin board to report to the U.S. Armed Guard School, Shelton, Va. For a four week refresher training. Was not to happy to return to
Norfolk. Lot of the training was recognition of
Japanese planes. The war was over with Germany. After the training was completed we took a troop train by the southern route to San Francisco Armed Guard Center at Treasure Island. It took quite a few days to complete the trip. The trip was enjoyable. We could leave the train at various stops. We had to be back on before the train was scheduled to leave. If one man didn't make it. We were all restricted to the train for the rest of the trip. We had one close call. We had a sailor running down the track after the train and losing ground. Then the train slowed down and somebody grabbed him and pulled him on board. We think the conductor saw him and the engineer slowed the train.
Arrived at Treasure Island 7-02-45. Was assigned to the SS Vanderbilt Victory 7-12-45 at
Benica, Ca. At Treasure Island we had training, job assignments,tests,exams and etc. Plus liberty. San Francisco was a great liberty city.
The Vanderbilt Victory had loaded ammo at Port Chicago and moved to Benica to take on ammo. The ship was new and had only made one trip before with a 13 man gun crew. We made it a 28 man gun crew. We had liberty at Benica and the rest of the time was getting acquainted with the ship, gun assignments, quarters, safety equipment, standing watch and etc. We set sail to Iwo Jima. By Enerwetoh, Saipan and then Iwo Jima where we were staging for the invasion of Japan. Both bombs were dropped and Japan surrendered ending WW11. We left the staging area at Iwo Jima. Moth balled all the guns and dumped all our ammo overboard and secured the empty ammo lockers. Then set sail for Saipan. Arrived at Saipan early
Sept. The whole gun crew except a GM3c departed the ship at Saipan. Waiting transportation back to San Francisco. We stayed there about a month before we got a troop ship to San Francisco. Whlle at Saipan we were put to work cleaning up the Island of live ammo and empty ammo cases. We had marines with us. As they were Japanese soldiers in the hills that didn't believe the war was over with. Finally got on a troop ship heading to San Francisco. Fully loaded with soldiers and marines. We were assigned to ships company. And our job was to keep people from falling overboard. And keep the chow line moving and orderly. The chow line was long and almost constant. The advantage of this assignment was not having to wait in the chow line and a little better place to sleep. Don't remember the ship's
name. Amd it is not in my records. My records show I REPORTED TO SAN FRANCISCO A.G. Center 10-13-45 from the Vanderbilt Victory. The records of the ship show it went to Pearl Harbor and never went back to the States until 2-24-46. Thats why they took the gun crew off.
I had about 5 more months to do before discharge. Some were being assign to the fleet and to a Navy ship. I considered re-enlistment But had met my future wife in Ricnmond, Ca. back in July. So I got assigned to Tadcen at T.I. Was assigned to M.P. duty on Treasure Island. Served out my time doing this. Feb.26 I was sent to Shoemaker, Ca. for discharge. Could have gone back to Boston where I enlisted. But I had a chance to look at Northern Ca. and decided I would give it a go out here. Plus I had the travel money back to Boston plus back pay. And this gave me a start out here.
As you can see the sailors were kept busy at the A.G.Centers maintaining the centers. Busy young people are to busy to get in trouble. It had to be a challenge to keep track of all the personal in and out of the Centers. Plus where they were at overseas. Most of the time you went back to the Center where you were dispatched from but not allways. The replacement we picked up in Iran was from the S.F. Armed Guard Center at Treasure Island. But he was sent to the Brooklyn A.G. Center with the rest of us at Baltimore when we arrive back to the USA. Before
you got leave you had to accumulate it. Sorry this is so long. Hope it answers some of your questions.-------Al