U.S. Merchant Ships Participating in World War II Combat Operations and Engagements whose U.S. Naval Armed Guard earned Battle Stars

U.S. Merchant Marine Ships whose U.S. Navy Armed Guard crews were awarded U.S. Navy "Battle Stars" on Area Service Ribbons for participation in "Operations" or "Engagements" i.e., battles with the enemy, during World War II. An "Operation" is defined as "a series of connected military actions occupying a specific area and time and may involve many clashes with the enemy." An "Engagement" is "an action with the enemy within a restricted time and area, and of sufficient intensity and significance to justify recognition."

The first guns on a U.S. merchant ship were put aboard the SS Dunboyne on December 2, 1941. A crew of 7 Naval Armed Guard were assigned to the ship which was headed for Murmansk. But arming of older ships such as the West Celina, took place slowly. The unarmed West Celina was sunk in the Carribean on August 18, 1942. By the end of 1942 there were Armed Guard on about 1,000 merchant ships.

Merchant mariners on these ships were assigned to positions at the 20 mm anti-aircraft guns or as ammunition passers on the big guns. Mariners received gunnery training at the U.S. Maritime Service Training Schools, or early in the war, from U.S. Navy, British, or Australian gunnery instructors.

This list is based data in "U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual, Washington, DC: Department of the Navy, 1953, 1956, 1957." [The list contained many typographical errors and inconsistencies, so please let us know if you recognize any errors.]

This list seems incomplete: On of those missing is the SS Yamhill, with Armed Guard aboard, which battled a Japanese submarine fro 12 hours.

The dates listed for "Battles with the enemy" seem inadequate. For example, the dates for Convoy PQ-17 are listed as 3 July to 5 July 1942, when 13 U.S. crewed ships were attacked and sunk. The attacks on the convoy actually started on July 2, and 6 other American ships in the "dispersed convoy" were attacked and sunk between July 6 and July 10.

Battle Star Ships listed Alphabetically A-F

Battle Star Ships listed Alphabetically G-M

Battle Star Ships listed Alphabetically N-Z

Battle Star Ships in European Theater Operations

Algeria-Morocco landings (31 ships)
Sicilian occupation (41 ships)
Salerno landings (40 ships)
Anzio-Nettuno advanced landings (20 ships)
Invasion of Normandy (178 ships)
Invasion of Southern France (155 ships)

Battle Star Ships in Pacific Theater Operations

Eastern New Guinea operation (1 ship)
Consolidation Southern Solomon Islands (14 ships)
Gilbert Islands operation (11 ships)
Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro (13 ships)
Occupation of Eniwetok (5 ships)
Admiralty Island landings (5 ships)
Capture-occupation of Saipan (16 ships)
Cape Sansapor operation (New Guinea) (1 ship)
Capture and occupation of Guam (5 ships)
Capture-occupation of southern Palau Islands (21 ships)
Leyte landings (108 ships)
Leyte operation (23 ships)
Luzon operation (12 ships)
Lingayen Gulf landing (35 ships)
Assault-occupation of Iwo Jima (18 ships)
Mindanao Island landings (9 ships)
Assault-occupation of Okinawa Gunto (176 ships)

Battle Star Ships in Convoy Battles

Murmansk Convoy operations (120 ships)
TAG 18 (16 ships)
SC-107 (6 ships)
ON-166 (16 ships)
UC-1 (4 ships)
SC-121 (4 ships)
UGS-6 (38 ships)
HX-229 (14 ships)
HX-233 (17 ships)
MKS-21 (17 ships)
KMF-25A (12 ships)
KMS-31 (15 ships)
UGS-36 (40 ships)
UGS-37 (43 ships)
UGS-38 (32 ships)
UGS-40 (36 ships)

 

Unicoi 15 Jul 42 Sank U-576 off Cape Hatteras, NC
 

Can you identify these operations?

Elisha Walker 22 Jan 44-4 Mar 44 ?
Island Mail 12 Feb 43 ?
Pacific 24 Oct 42-10 Nov 42 ?
Vachel Lindsay 25 Feb 44-3 Mar 44 ?
Ville D'Anvers 6 Apr 43-20 May 43 ?

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