Re: Western MA-Looking for Navy Armed Guard WW II Vets
Posted by Ron Carlson on March 27, 2013, 10:23 am, in reply to "Re: Western MA-Looking for Navy Armed Guard WW II Vets "
I have been able to find information that may be useful to you.
USS OCEANUS was a U.S. Navy repair ship, which apparently operated exclusively in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Oceanus, which has a photograph of the ship. She was built in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1942-1943, originally referred to as LST 328 (landing ship, tank) but designated ARB 2 and renamed. She was decommissioned in 1947 and scrapped in 1961. See http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/smallships/lstpart1.htm and scroll to LST 328.
SS FRANCISCO CORONADO was a Liberty ship (cargo ship) built in 1943 by the Kaiser Vancouver shipyard, Vancouver, Washington. She was scrapped in Baltimore in 1962. See http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsF.html and scroll to the name of the ship.
SS TJIBESAR was a Dutch cargo/passenger ship, built in 1922 in Scotland. The Dutch government requisitioned her from her private owners for wartime duty in 1942 and leased the ship to the U.S. War Shipping Administration. Operating with a Dutch crew plus U.S. Navy Armed Guard gunners, she served in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. She was scrapped in Japan in 1959. See http://www.arendnet.com/kjcpl%209.htm for photographs of the ship plus a brief description (in Dutch) of her history. See https://sites.google.com/site/ordustorypage/archive/huygen-remi---author for stories of her wartime career as recorded by one of her Dutch officers. Scroll down the page to "The war years."
SS AMERICAN ARROW was a tanker built in 1920 by the Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts, and originally named JAPAN ARROW. In 1942 she was renamed (not surprisingly) AMERICAN ARROW. She was scrapped in 1947. See http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/1major/inactive/bethquincy.htm and scroll to hull number 1386.
SS GRUNDY was a cargo ship built in 1944 by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She went to the U.S. Navy as APA 111, a troop transport, and operated in the Pacific. She was commissioned in January 1945, decommissioned in May 1946, and scrapped in 1973. See http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/1major/active/ingalls.htm and scroll to hull number 417. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Grundy_%28APA-111%29, and http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/03/03111.htm. The latter page includes photographs of the ship.
For information about where these ships sailed and when, go to the EXCELLENT website ConvoyWeb and do a separate "Ship Search" at http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/hague/index.html for the name of each ship. Assuming it is the website's database, the search results will show the whereabouts of the ship by convoy number, originating and destination ports and applicable dates. There will be no information on the crew, but if you know when your father served in each ship, you will know where he was turning that period. ConvoyWeb is not as complete for ship movements in the Pacific as in the Atlantic and Mediterranean but you may find something.
A similar website is www.warsailors.com which has a search box on the home page. Convoyweb is the more comprehensive of the two sites but warsailors.com sometimes has more extensive information about an individual convoy than does Convoyweb, so search them both. This site also appears to be better on ship movements in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean than in the Pacific.
If you're interested in obtaining photographs of these ships (other than the links I identify above as having photos of the ships in question), please see this web page for sources of photographs of World War II-era merchant ships: http://www.usmm.org/photosource.html. For FRANCISCO CORONADO, the best place would be Mr. William Hultgren, whose photographic collection concentrates on Liberty ships. I know enough about his collection to know that Mr. Hultgren apparently has an image of FRANCISCO CORONADO. Mr. Hultgren is quite elderly but at last report was still actively managing his collection.
A source for the other ships may be the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia. However, the second link for the Mariners Museum as displayed on the page I identify above is no longer valid. Instead, for help finding photographs and other materials held by the museum's library, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both Mr. Hultgren and the Mariners Museum, and probably the other sources as well, will charge for copies of their photographs but I don't know how much.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website