Re: Grandpa WWII service
Posted by Ron Carlson on October 19, 2016, 2:43 pm, in reply to "Grandpa WWII service"
Edited by board administrator October 19, 2016, 2:47 pm
I assume your reference to “the site which shows where the liberty ships were and when” means that you have seen this message from me to April Whaley Cook on October 17, 2016, http://members.boardhost.com/armedguard/msg/1476734029.html, which discusses the ConvoyWeb website.
Let me walk you through how to use ConvoyWeb.
Start with your grandfather’s first ship. Your records show that your grandfather was assigned to HORACE BINNEY between 10/02/43 and 03/03/44, although he may have been ill as of 02/01/44 (which turns out to be an important point as you will see below).
At ConvoyWeb (http://convoyweb.org.uk/hague/index.html) select “SHIP SEARCH” in the left column. This will bring up a search box in which one enters “HORACE BINNEY” (without the quote marks; the capitalization is not important), then click on “Find Vessel.”
This brings up a page showing the convoys in which HORACE BINNEY participated. It is grouped by type of convoys (for example she was found in one “BTC” convoy, eight “GUS” convoys, etc.) along with the month and date the convoy left port, plus the departure and destination ports of the convoy (but not necessarily the destination of a given ship within the convoy).
So do an eyeball search of the list of convoys, looking for October 1943, when your grandfather was first assigned to the ship. Near the bottom of the page one finds convoy UGS-21, October 1943, Hampton Roads (i.e., Norfolk, Virginia) to Port Said (Egypt). That is the only entry for October 1943. UGS-21 is a link; follow it. This takes you to a detail page for convoy UGS-21, showing that the convoy departed Hampton Roads on October 15, 1943 (which fits the dates you have for your grandfather’s assignment to the ship), with the convoy arriving in Port Said, Egypt, on November 11, 1943. But scrolling down the page you will see that HORACE BINNEY did not go to Port Said; her destination was Bizerta (Tunisia), which is about half the length of the Mediterranean Sea between Gibraltar and Egypt. (Having a world map helps a lot.) The page does not show the date HORACE BINNEY arrived in Bizerta. But one can assume that between October 15, 1943, and sometime in late October or early November 1943, your grandfather was aboard HORACE BINNEY as she made her way from North America to Tunisia.
Now, how and when did he return to the US? Going back to the list of convoys, there is no entry for November 1943 (as a departure date for a convoy) but there is an entry for December 1943, and referring to convoy GUS-24. Follow the link to GUS-24 and you will see that the convoy departed Port Said on December 6, 1943, and arrived in Hampton Roads on January 3, 1944. But again scroll down the detail page for convoy GUS-24 to HORACE BINNEY. You will see she departed not from Port Said (she never went that far east) but rather from Bizerta, where we know from the above paragraph that she arrived from convoy UGS-21. We do not know the date she departed from Bizerta to join convoy GUS-24 as the convoy sailed west through the Mediterranean but we know that the convoy (and HORACE BINNEY and your grandfather) reached Hampton Roads on January 3, 1943.
What next? Back on the page listing convoys for HORACE BINNEY, we see that the ship was part of convoy UGS-32 which departed Hampton Roads for Oran (Algeria) on February 3, 1944, with 361 troops plus sacks of mail. HORACE BINNEY returned to Hampton Roads in convoy GUS-32 on March 23, 1944.
But now we have a discrepancy. HORACE BINNEY returned to Hampton Roads on March 23, 1944, yet your information has your grandfather aboard his second ship, CHARLES CROCKER, as of March 10, 1944. What happened? The explanation, I believe, is your note that your grandfather was ill as of February 1, 1944. This means he must have missed sailing aboard HORACE BINNEY when that ship departed Hampton Roads two days later in convoy UGS-32 on February 3, 1944. By the time HORACE BINNEY returned from Algeria in late March 1944, your grandfather had been reassigned to CHARLES CROCKER.
To summarize: your grandfather was assigned to HORACE BINNEY on October 2, 1943. That ship sailed from Hampton Roads on October 15, 1943, arriving in Bizerta, Tunisia, in late October or early November 1943. The ship remained in Bizerta in November and into early December (no doubt unloading cargo), then joined homebound convoy GUS-24 sometime in December. HORACE BINNEY and your grandfather returned to Hampton Roads on January 3, 1944. By February 1, 1944, your grandfather fell ill, missing the departure of HORACE BINNEY when that ship sailed on February 3, 1944. Your grandfather recovered and as of March 10, 1944, was assigned to his next ship, CHARLES CROCKER.
Now do the same kind of searches for each of your grandfather’s other ships to see where they were and when during the period of time your grandfather was aboard each ship. It’s painstaking but knowing all of his ships and the chronological order in which he served in each makes it an easier task.
Several notes. The correct name of his fourth ship is ORAN M. ROBERTS. A search of ConvoyWeb for ORAN ROBERTS will be unsuccessful. Also, there may be no record at ConvoyWeb for the whereabouts of SAMUEL BARLOW since your grandfather’s service in that ship began literally at the very end of World War II and continued several months after the end of the war. ConvoyWeb only lists ship movements during World War II and not later. And there will be no information on ConvoyWeb for his voyage home aboard USS KENTON, again since that was after the end of the war.
From your list of the decorations your grandfather was qualified to wear, it is apparent that at some point he ended up aboard one or more ships in the Pacific Ocean, since he earned both the Philippines Liberation medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal. Keep in mind the caveat in my message to April Whaley Cook that ConvoyWeb is not comprehensive with respect to ship movements in the Pacific.
I hope this is helpful. Please get back to me if you have more questions.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website