U.S. Naval Armed Guard Casualties During World War II

In October 1941, the U. S. Navy organized an Armed Guard to provide gun crews for duty aboard the country's 1,375 merchant ships, just as it had done in World War I. The first Armed Guard were given their 3 weeks of training at Little Creek, Virginia and the first trainees and their officers were ready to sail in November 1941, when Congress repealed the Neutrality Act and placed guns aboard merchant ships.

By war's end, Armed Guard training bases were located throughout the country, and over 144,900 men served on over 6,236 American and Allied ships.

According to our lists compiled from various sources, about 2,085 died in defense of their country, and at least 1,127 were wounded as a result of enemy action. The list below has 2,134 names and we ask your help in determining which Navy casualties listed for the SS Dorchester and Henry R. Mallory, and perhaps others, were passengers, and not members of the Armed Guard.

Late in the war, a typical Armed Guard crew comprised 27 men, but in 1942 there were few guns and few Armed Guard aboard. It took time to train and assign Armed Guard and to arm the ships. As late as August 1942, some ships had no Armed Guard aboard (California shelled August 13, West Celina torpedoed August 18, Arlyn torpedoed August 27). The number of Armed Guard assigned to a ship during 1942 was quite low - for example, the American Leader (Capt. George Duffy's ship) had 9 Armed Guard aboard in Sept. 1942. Syros, sunk in Convoy PQ 16 had 2 Navy signalmen aboard. The ships of Convoy PQ 17 had 2 to 15 Armed Guard aboard.

  Ships Sunk-Damaged Mariners
Armed Guard
1940 7 294 13 0
1941 96 4,032 331 0
1942 571 23,982 4,363 618
1943 374 15,708 2,053 948
1944 332 13,944 929 426
1945 183 7,686 479 141
1946 46 1,932 64 0
1947 5 210 4 0
Year Unk.     185  
Total 1,614 67,700* 8,421 2133^

*Calculated assuming 42 mariners in crew
^Includes some U.S. Navy passengers.

Armed Guard Casualties by month in 1942 (Total 622)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
9 21 8 20 34 52 57 38 104 110 102 67


Armed Guard Killed and Wounded



U. S. Navy Casualty list of WWII, compiled by Capt. Stansel E. DeFoe, courtesy Tom Bowerman, U. S. Navy Armed Guard Veterans www.armed-guard.com

Ships of the Esso Fleet in World War II, Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, 1946

A Careless Word - A Needless Sinking: A History of the Staggering Losses Suffered by the U.S. Merchant Marine, both in Ships and Personnel, during World War II, Captain Arthur R. Moore, American Merchant Marine Museum, Kings Point, NY: 1998

Defense Manpower Data Center, 02/14/96, List of casualties at Bari, Italy on Dec. 2, 1943, courtesy Gerald Reminick, author, Nightmare at Bari: Eyewitness accounts of the World War II mustard gas disaster and cover up in Italy, Benicia, CA: Glencannon Press Maritime Books, 2001

The Last Voyage of the Henry Bacon, Donald R. Foxvog and Robert I. Alotta, St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 2001

The Last Voyage, Maritime Heroes of World War II, Leonard E. Amborski, Orlando FL: FirstPublish, 2001 [The story of the last voyage of the SS Stone Street]

SS J. Pinckney Henderson and SS J. H. Senior casualties courtesy Greg. H. Williams, author, Civil and Merchant Vessel Encounters with United States Navy Ships: 1800-2000, Greg H. Williams, Jefferson NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2002

Captain George Duffy, casualties on the MV American Leader

Florida Armed Guard casualties courtesy Robert Hawk, author and researcher of Florida history.

SS John Straub casualties courtesy Dean Read.

SS Stephen Hopkins casualties courtesy SS Stephen Hopkins chapter American Merchant Marine Veterans, Dallas TX area.

Personal correspondence from family members

American Battle Monuments Commission list of World War II casualties

Crew and Armed Guard of the SS Samuel Heintzelman

Merchant Marine Casualties
Ships Sunk or Damaged in WWII
Men and Ships in World War II