Ron: I’ve spent the spring perusing the Deck Logs and Ship Logs of granddad’s 3 Liberty Ships. You weren’t joking about their frequently-unremarkable nature, but it’s still fantastic to hold tangible copies of my grandfather’s war record. I admit I’m surprised to see how little “personal” info is in the Logs. That is to say, I thought there might be brief mention of what each USN personnel was there to do. Gramps was a Seaman First Class, but that’s all I know. My dad always thought his father had been an anti-aircraft gunner, but wouldn’t that put the word Gunner in his rank? Were most Armed Guard personnel simply cross-trained to do multiple duties? Curious here, as always. --JP
Re: Deck Logs etc
Posted by Ron Carlson on April 20, 2022, 3:18 pm, in reply to "Deck Logs etc"
I'm pleased to hear that you have had success in obtaining records.
In my experience, Armed Guard crew lists include primarily seamen (1st class or 2nd class), all of whom can be assumed to have served as gunners. "Gunner" is not a U.S. Navy rank (technically not rank in the case of an enlisted sailor but rating instead). Additionally there would have been one or more gunners mates, which is a rating, and which indicates a petty officer (non-commissioned officer). There would often be one or two signalmen, sometimes a radioman, sometimes some other rating(s). I wouldn't be surprised if the seamen/gunners would have been cross-trained among different weapons but signalmen and radiomen were unique ratings with additional training required before shipboard assignment. Additionally there would be one officer, generally an ensign, lieutenant junior grade or at most full lieutenant.
Seamen/gunners were generally trained for and assigned to a particular type of weapon: 3" gun in the bow, 5" gun in the stern (inches indicating the diameter of the shells the guns fired), and 20 mm. machine guns, located at various places about the ship. These were typically the defensive weapons found on Liberty ships. The 20 mm. machine guns were antiaircraft weapons, while the 3" and 5" guns were designated "dual purpose," meaning they could be used against aerial or surface targets. So your grandfather, a seaman 1st class, was almost certainly a gunner and indeed an antiaircraft gunner, but his primary assignment might have been on any of at least three types of weapons.
I have checked back through the message board and I see that you and I first communicated in November 2021, barely five months ago. So you must have had rather good luck in obtaining information from the National Archives if you have received Armed Guard logs. How long did it actually take to receive information? Would you mind indicating the cost (cost per page and/or total cost)? Such up-to-date information would be useful for me in responding to other inquiries similar to yours.
If you have additional questions, you know where to find me.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website www.armed-guard.com
That makes sense, given what snippets my dad mentioned about grandpa. Dad was insistent that his father was often found on the 20mm and that Gramps demanded the sights be removed – that he could aim better without them. I remain agnostic on the veracity of that, but hey.
As to the logs, yes indeed. I was quite pleased and surprised by the relative speed with which the National Archives worked with me. I’m convinced that having the exact names and date ranges had to have helped. I was able to specify in my request everything I sought, down to the correct box numbers. So I encourage other researchers to probe as far as they can before contacting NARA. Your essay/reply of 11/6/2021 contains just about everything one needs to know in order to begin – or at least, if you know which ships’ info you seek.
Here’s the timeline I experienced. Like a mutual fund has to say, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” I initiated a request via e-mail on 19 December 2021, and received a response on 4 January 2022. It was their response that clued me in to the existence not only of the Armed Guard Logs in Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personne4, but also the Armed Guard Reports [or Files] located in Record Group 38: Records of the Chief of Naval Operations. After promptly submitting the ship names and deployment dates, I received a quote on 14 January, specifying $0.80 per page with a $20.00 minimum -- $136 total for my grandfather’s three ships (the Deck Logs are missing from one of them). Fired off the payment and order form the next day. And the documents arrived on 17 February. Two months’ turnaround; pretty nice work by NARA.
Later, brother! To quote thee, “If you have additional questions, you know where to find me.”