Coastwise Merchant Seamen of WW II
To assist some 30,000 coastwise merchant seamen of WW II who were employed on tugs and barges that carried bulk war materials to the various defense plants located along the Atlantic, Pacific andf Gulf Coasts. The crew of some of these barges were made up of families during the summer months. Both women and children manned the barges during during school breaks. Many elderly seamen sailed on these barges, some officially documented, other not. Due to three known government actions, many of their records have been destroyed/denied, causing them to require other means of proving their service.
The call went out to utilize every mode of transportation available to keep the enemy away from our shores. They pulled some old wooden hulled barges from the graveyard and mudbanks and put them back into sevice. These barges were pre WW I products, some back into the other century. They had no running water, no inside convenineces, light was from kerosene lamps and were heated by single coal stoves or kitchen stoves. They leaked like a seeve when loaded and all of the machenery was well beyond its life span, some rusted in place. Most abled bodies seamen steered clear of these old hulks and opted for the bigger and more modern ships.
When the call went out for help in manning these wooden hulks, some of the older salts left retirement and answered that call. Many brought their wives and some their families.
Records to prove their service has been destroyed by government actions and now requre our government to create an avenue to allow for other documentation to take the place of documents destroyed. Due to limited knowledge the general public has of these seamen or others who served in the merchant marine during WW II, the word must get out to educate those that have little knowledge of this travesty. We need readers to ask others that may have relatives that have served and know nothing of their possible benefits from their service.
You can find an interesting story about this lifestyle Published in the Mariner News by Raina Clark at:http://www.marinelink.com/news/forgotten-merchant336424.aspx.
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