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Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

Article about: So, were Merchant Mariners given weapons? How did they defend themselves? I recall reading somewhere that their ships were crewed by the mariners, but defended by armed Navy personnel. As I

  1. #1

    Default Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    Hi guys,

    My great-grandfather was a merchant mariner during WWII and I have always wanted a uniform to display with his wartime portrait as kind of a tribute. I finally found one, and despite knowing next to nothing about this stuff I jumped on this whole set in auction. I would really appreciate some info on what I just bought!

    First up is this jacket:

    - - Updated - -

    Next we have this uniform set for, I think, a commander:

    (Can anyone identify the ribbons?)

    - - Updated - -

    Lastly, I bought this cap:

    Thanks for your help guys!
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  2. #2
    ?

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    Merchant Marine items are tough to find.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    Quote by SteveR View Post
    Merchant Marine items are tough to find.
    Surprisingly so! I have always wanted a MM uniform. Do you have any info on any of the items in this set?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    The Tan tunic's cuff stripe indicates this tunic was worn by an Ensign and the anchor insignia above it says he was a Line officer. Blue uniform looks to be the rank of a Lieutenant Commander-still of the Line. And, yes, the blue hat matches what a Lt Commander rank would wear. The nice cap device looks to be war-time or very close, at any rate. Middle ribbon is for the Pacific War Zone Medal. Right hand ribbon is for the Victory medal. Left ribbon is for the Defense Medal. I copied what these particular medals were awarded for below:

    Pacific War Zone Bar - For service in the Pacific zone, including the North Pacific Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, and Indian Ocean east of eighty degrees east longitude.

    Victory Medal - Awarded to members of the crews of ships who served 30 days or more during the period December 7, 1941 to September 3, 1945.

    Merchant Marine Defense Medal - Awarded for service in the U.S. Merchant Marine prior to Pearl Harbor. It may be worn by all merchant seamen who served as members of the crews of U.S. merchant ships from September 8, 1939 and December 7, 1941.

    It doesn't look as if the owner of the uniform saw combat, or he would have also had the Combat Ribbon Bar. But, a scarce uniform set, in any case and quite tough to come by. Nice pick up!

    Here is a fair MM info website:
    Merchant Marine Emblem, Medals and Ribbons
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  5. #5

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    Good info and link, William.

    Like a whole other world of medals and insignia.
    Quite rare items - Nice stuff Mo.........!
    Regards,


    Steve.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    Thanks guys! I'm not sure why I missed that this thread had been replied to. William, thank you for the info!

    I just have one question: What is a line officer?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    Line officer is a loose term meaning, basically, that the officer is qualified to be on the bridge and to operate a ship-as opposed to, say, just a Staff officer-who would have the Rank but not the qualifications to operate a ship. He was in the line of command.
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  8. #8

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    Great stuff!
    I love merchant marine cap's as well!
    Those guy's have endure sever losses as well during the war.
    Here are some Belgian merchant marine cap's.
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    Always looking for Belgian Congo stuff!
    cheers
    |<ris

  9. #9

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    Very nice caps Stuka!

    William, thanks again for the definition of a line officer. Given the insignia of the jacket, does this mean that this officer was likely on some ship in the Pacific that took supplies to islands that has already been secured? Does the fact that he has no combat ribbon mean that he was just lucky, or that he consistently sailed on a ship in safe waters?

    If anyone has other MM stuff, please post it to this thread. I would love to see other items for comparison. I read somewhere that there were only 215,000 Merchant Mariners in WWII, so I suppose this stuff would be kind of hard to come by.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Bunch of Merchant Marine stuff

    As shown by his ribbon bar, he definitely sailed in the Pacific during the wartime, but apparently, as you said, was either Lucky (which would be My guess) or else he somehow found a corridor in the Pacific that was outside of the combat zones, which I doubt, but in either case, he never was called on to combat. Supplies had to be delivered to the combatants and the endless liberated islands, and lots of them, so most shipping of the time was somehow war connected. More likely, by the time this officer sailed, the Japanese navy had been whittled down considerably and was hard put to defend the homeland, rather than harass enemy shipping in odd parts of the Pacific.
    I remember the great controversy about the MM's after the end of the war. They were basically told that they weren't part of the US Navy and as such had no benefits coming to them. Their protests went on for a Long long time, as I recall, and were never totally satisfactorily resolved. Which was a shame, as these men had put themselves into danger and harms way and they died the same as Navy sailors did when their ships went down. Just another one of those long lists of injustice's from the war that the government saw fit to sweep under the rug and ignore...
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

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