Re: Matching a sailor to his ship
Posted by Ron Carlson on April 10, 2015, 3:17 pm, in reply to "Matching a sailor to his ship"
Edited by board administrator April 10, 2015, 3:54 pm
Dear Denise, |
SS JACK LONDON was a U.S. Liberty ship, one of 15 built by the Marinship Corp. in Sausalito, California, in 59 days in June-August 1943. Marinship built many other ships during World War II, primarily tankers, and other shipyards constructed more than 2,700 other Liberty ships before, during and immediately after the war. The ship survived the war, was sold and resold to private shipping companies beginning in 1947, and sailed under three other names and under two other flags before being scrapped in Italy in 1968. See http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergencylarge/wwtwo/marinship.htm and scroll to hull number 18, and http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsJ-Ji.html and scroll to the name of the ship.
Liberty ships were civilian-operated merchant ships, most of which carried war-related cargoes, a few of which carried both troops and cargo. To the best of my knowledge, JACK LONDON was strictly a cargo-carrying Liberty ship. Liberty ships and other merchant ships in World War II were unusual in that they carried both a civilian merchant crew, to operate the ship, and a U.S. Navy crew, known as the Armed Guard, to man defensive weapons on the ship. Having both civilian and military crews on the same ship sometimes caused friction due to greatly differing pay scales and working requirements. But the two crews were literally in the same boat and had to find ways to get along. By the end of the war the Armed Guard was viewed in the Navy as something of a plum assignment, because generally the food was better, the accommodations were roomier, and the discipline somewhat more relaxed than in the regular Navy, and the convoy system and improved anti-submarine warfare technology significantly reduced the risk of enemy attack on merchant ships. Some 1,810 Armed Guard men and officers were killed in World War II, out of approximately 145,000 who served.
Liberty ships built on the West Coast often, but not always, operated primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and this appears to be the case with JACK LONDON. I can find three records of the ship in convoys between Leyte, Philippine Islands, and Hollandia, a port on the north coast of New Guinea, between December 1944 and April 1945. Given her construction date the ship must have operated somewhere prior to December 1944 but I can find little definitive information on her whereabouts. According to one source she was in Adak Island, Alaska, as of November 7, 1943, not long before the death of Frank Harnutovsky (www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Onondaga_WPG_79.pdf; see page 9). Presumably he was still assigned to JACK LONDON when he was killed on January 18, 1944.
I have found no record that JACK LONDON was attacked or damaged during World War II, from this page of merchant ships sunk or damaged: http://www.usmm.org/sunkaz.html#anchor23362. I suppose it is possible the ship was attacked or experienced some kind of maritime non-combat accident yet was not damaged, with Harnutovsky being killed or mortally injured, but that is speculative on my part.
Likewise, I cannot find a record among a list of Armed Guard personnel killed or injured during World War II at this page: http://usmm.org/ag/h.html. Again to be speculative it might be that Harnutovsky was killed or mortally wounded while in a port or otherwise off the ship, or died from illness or non-combat injury. None of these scenarios, however, would seem to correspond with his status of “killed in action” or of not being listed on the page above. I do not know, however, whether this source of Armed Guard casualties is comprehensive.
If you are determined to pursue additional information, one might consider trying to obtain a copy of Frank Harnutovsky’s military service record (or, for that matter, the service record of any other person, which could apply broadly to the Struthers Fallen Soldiers Project). Please see this page from the Armed Guard website: http://armed-guard.com/searchmil.html. In particular see section A.1. Records of Individuals - U.S. Military. You will have to contact the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO, a facility operated by the U.S. Archives. Provide as much identifying information as possible about Frank Harnutovsky. The links on the web page noted above will take you to the necessary pages of the Records Center web site. There may be a fee for obtaining the information but the Records Center staff will not begin research without informing you of any charge. Frank Harnutovsky’s military service record may contain such information as the ships to which he was assigned, applicable dates, training, illnesses or injuries, any decorations or medals earned, etc. Note that someone such as yourself, who is not next of kin to Frank Harnutovsky, may not be able to obtain his full service record. (Next of kin = parent, spouse, sibling, child.) But you or a colleague in the Project could make the request and hope for the best.
Finally, given that Harnutovsky may be a fairly unusual name, you are likely aware that there are persons with that last name living just up the road in Youngstown and, apparently, very few other places in the country, according to http://www.whitepages.com/ and to a Google search.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website