November 11, 2009

Veterans Day: Merchant Marine WWII Dean E Raeburn

In Honor of Veteran's Day I would like to re-run this post, originally posted for Memorial Day-

Several years ago I tried to search information regarding the Merchant Marines, there was virtually nothing online. I have recently found a few websites devoted to the service of the Merchant Marines, and there is valuable and appreciated information on the sites, I will provide links at the end of this post. Recognition by the U.S. government to the Merchant Marines of WWII comes finally and for some to late. No Pensions or veteran benefits were ever received by the Merchant Mariners of WWII...a grave site memorial plaque was received without a U.S. flag for my dad.

My father, Dean Raeburn was a Merchant Marine during WWII, his United States Coast Guard card listing him as Fireman,Oiler, Watertender, Ordinary Seaman, his passport lists him as an oiler. He did sail the Great Lakes prior to and after WWII, I am guessing an inherited passion growing up in Sault Saint Marie the son of a Great Lakes Steamship Captain.

I have a lot to learn and research about the Merchant Marines. Some thought they saw “no action”, I heard of someone saying this to my father and his response was to the contrary. I never did hear my father talk about the war or being a Merchant Marine. Their missions over the Atlantic must have been anything but an easy task, with German U-boats after them. One of the ships Dad sailed on was the Thomas U Walter. A log shows them departing from Alexandria Egypt in September of 1943. The Gus 17 convoy list(slow convoy-Gibraltar-U.S.) shows 90 merchants and 13 escorts.

**Ninety merchant ships sailing in convoy and thirteen escorts by the U.S. Navy**

Dad sailed to many ports, Egypt, Algeria, France and England perhaps more I am unaware of. I found only three documents showing three ships through Some of his duties as an oiler in the engine crew on the merchant ships were making sure the bearing were always kept regularly oiled. Maintaining and keeping piston rods, valve stems, etc oiled and keeping seawater off. The duty list is is a long and responsible one, with the duties also of fireman watertender....

I wish to learn more and write a more fitting tribute, I will spend much more time on this. I can now write for records which I will, and I can request for ship records if I decide to do so. I wish I had more to write on right now.

I wasn’t going to even post this due to lack of info...but decided to anyway a bit late.

dad is #25 on list
Click on all photos for larger viewing


Song and Video by Celtae A must see!!

Duties of the engine crew
U.S.Merchant Marine
Arnold Hague Convoy Database
The Convoy System at Immigration & Emigration