U.S. Navy Armed Guard Service - Fran Kent


Your site, where I expect to spend much time in future, is a thing of wonder. Yet an admittedly quick scan turns up no mention of the U.S. Navy Armed Guard Service, the branch that put Navy gunnery and communications people on board merchant ships. By war's end, there were about 147,000 of us, but our history remains obscure. If you have dealt with this, please direct me to the place.

Fran Kent
North Hollywood, California


Thank you for your kind words about AHOY, it is a joint effort, my good friend Terry Kearns in Atlanta Georgia acts as my Web Master and turns all my research and scribblings into our site that is there for anyone who may happen to find it.

You are quite right, I have not written about the US Navy Armed Guard Service, but am well aware of the service they provided in Merchant Ships , including all the Liberties in WW2.

Fran, I will do something to correct that side of Naval History in the near future, of course I never claim to be all embracing with the subjects that are covered on AHOY, nevertheless, you make a good point, and thanks again for your message.

With best wishes, I will alert you when your Navy Armed Guard Service is up on our site.

Mackenzie Gregory.


You may indeed. It would please me, with or without the acknowledgement. My only interest is in seeing that these forgotten sailors get a bit of recognition. Until about five years ago, when I acquired a computer and began poking about, I had never encountered another veteran of the Armed Guard or anyone who had ever heard of it. Your grand site will provide considerable exposure.

Much obliged,

(I asked Fran if we could use his piece, here is his response. Mac.)


Many, many thanks. You have done us proud.

I note that you took the King's shilling at the early age of 13, which is very interesting. I knew that the RN, in Nelson's time, took in midshipmen in their early teens but had no idea the practice continued into the 1930s. Years ago, the USN enlisted "boy apprentices" as early as age 12. They wore a square-knot emblem low on the left sleeve. I knew a few who were recalled to active duty in the '40s but not for sea duty.

Almost everything about the Navy, any navy, I find fascinating, even though I served only five years on active duty. It strikes me that you must have seen our cruiser Houston in the early months of the war. I had a friend in her when she was sunk in the DEI; he spent the remainder of the war in a Japanese POW camp.

Again, I much appreciate what you've done.




I found this list about The US Naval Armed Guard, and thought of you, trust all is fine with you.


Best wishes.







U.S. Naval Armed Guard includes memoirs

Berry, Bob, and Wendt, Lloyd. Gunners Get Glory, Bob Berry's Story of the Navy's Armed Guard. New York: Bobb-Merrill Co.,1943 [The loss of the SS Scottsburg and SS Kahuku]

Bowerman, Thomas R. Fireclay - An Autobiography. Artex Publishing, 1601 North 8 th Street, Sheboygan, Wisconsin 53081: 1996

Briggs, Frank R., Jr. "Detached Command - Multiple Duties of Armed Guard Officers." United States Naval Institute Proceedings 69, no.11 (Nov. 1943): pp. 1469-1470

Britton, Beverley L. "Navy Stepchildren: The Armed Guard." United States Naval Institute Proceedings 73, no.12 (Dec. 1947): pp.1495-1501

Brown, Roy W. Jig How: A Story of the U.S. Navy Armed Guard During World War II. Baltimore: Publish America, 2003

Di Phillip, John. Gunner's Diary. Boston: Meador Publishing Co., 1946

Dupra, Lyle E. We Delivered! - The U.S. Navy Armed Guard in World War II. Sunflower University Press, 1531 Yuma, PO Box 1009, Manhattan, Kansas 66505: 1997

Galati, Bob (Editor). Gunner's Mate. Innovatia Press, 1425 Maryland Drive, Irving Texas 75061: 1993

Gleichauf, Justin F. Unsung Sailors - The Naval Armed Guard in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990

_______. History of the Armed Guard Afloat. Naval Administrative History Series, Washigton, DC

_______. A History of the Armed Guard Veterans of World War II. United States Navy Armed Guard Veterans of World War II, Dallas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1987

McCormick, Harold J. Two Years Behind The Mast: An American Landlubber at Sea During WW II. Sunflower University Press, 1531 Yuma, PO Box 10009, Manhattan, KS 66505, 1991

McGee, William L. Bluejacket Odyssey: Guadalcanal to Bikini Atoll, Naval Armed Guard in the Pacific. BMC Publications, 52 Seaview Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93108, Revised edition 2000 [$35 http://www.BMCpublications.com]

Milach, Jordan. Bell-Bottom Shorts. New York: Carlton Press, 1968

Navy Department. General Instructions For Commanding Officers Of Naval Armed Guards On Merchant Ships. 1943. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1943

Navy Department. Ordnance And Gunnery Instructions For Naval Armed Guards On Merchant Ships, 1944, OPNAV-23L-1. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1944


The Plane Shooter: Armed Guard School, Shelton, Virginia. United States Navy, 1943.

Schofield, William G.. Eastward the Convoys. Chicago: Rand McNally and Co., 1965

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