U.S. Merchant Marine Casualties during World War II
Mariners suffered the highest rate of casualties of any service in World War II, but unfortunately, the U.S. Merchant Marine had no official historians and researchers, thus casualty statistics vary. Revised 08/26/06
Mariners died "direct result of enemy action or as POW on American flag ships" according to U.S. Coast Guard, 1950 (excluded Army Transport and U.S. owned foreign flag ships) 5,662 Mariners died compiled by Captain Arthur Moore ("Careless Word" 1998 edition) 6,847 Mariners died compiled by www.USMM.org 8,421^
^Additional 1,100 died of wounds later according to testimony before Congress.
Comparison of Merchant Marine casualty rate to other services
How many U.S. Merchant Marine and U.S. Army Transport Service casualties were there in World War II? We may never know the exact count, because the U.S. government never kept accurate records as it did for other services. The best previous accounting has been by Captain Arthur R. Moore, an independent researcher, in his great work, A Careless Word -- a Needless Sinking: A History of the Staggering Losses Suffered by the U.S. Merchant Marine, both in Ships and Personnel, during World War II, American Merchant Marine Museum, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y., 1983 to 1998. Captain Moore's book lists approx. 990 ships. www.usmm.org list includes 1,600 ships.
Service Number serving War Dead Percent Ratio Merchant Marine 243,000* 9,521** 3.90% 1 in 26 Marines 669,108 19,733 2.94% 1 in 34 Army 11,268,000 234,874 2.08% 1 in 48 Navy 4,183,466 36,958 0.88% 1 in 114 Coast Guard 242,093 574 0.24% 1 in 421 Total 16,576,667 295,790 1.78% 1 in 56
*Number varies by source and ranges from 215,000 to 285,000. War Shipping Administration Press Release 2514, January 1, 1946, lists 243,000
**Total killed at sea, POW killed, plus died from wounds ashore
Mariner Prisoners of War
POWs Died as POW Prisoners of War, Coast Guard 610 37 Prisoners of War, compiled by Captain Arthur Moore 663 66 Prisoners of War, compiled by www.USMM.org 712 97
Mariners in National Cemeteries Overseas
Mariners buried or commemorated in American Battle Monuments Commission National Cemeteries overseas: 595
Mariners buried ABMC not found on Coast Guard or Capt. Moore lists: 482
Wounded, testimony in Hearings before Congress: 12,000
Wounded, partial list compiled by www.USMM.org: 1,078
Died from their wounds in Public Health Hospitals and Allied military hospitals abroad, testimony in Hearings before Congress (Estimated -- records apparently destroyed): 1,100
Mariner and Armed Guard Casualties by Year
An average merchant ship had a crew of 42 mariners, thus 1,614 ships sunk or damaged involved approx. 68,000 men of a total force of 243,000 of whom 8,400 died immediately and an additional 1,100 died later of their wounds.
Note that 35% of the sinkings/damage to ships and 52% of the mariner deaths occurred in 1942. Graphs showign sinkings by year and month
Late in the war, a typical Armed Guard crew comprised 27 men, but in 1942 there were few guns and few Armed Guard aboard. It took time to train, assign Armed Guard, and to arm the ships. As late as August 1942, some ships had no Armed Guard aboard (California shelled August 13, West Celina torpedoed August 18, Arlyn torpedoed August 27). The number of Armed Guard assigned to a ship during 1942 was quite low - for example, the American Leader (Capt. George Duffy's ship) had 9 Armed Guard aboard in Sept. 1942. Syros, sunk in Convoy PQ 16, had 2 Navy signalmen aboard. The ships of Convoy PQ 17 (July 1942) had 2 to 15 Armed Guard aboard.
Ships Sunk-Damaged Mariners Aboard (approx.) Mariners Died Armed Guard
1940 7 294 13 0 1941 96 4,032 331 0 1942 571 23,982 4,363 622 1943 374 15,708 2,053 1,007 1944 332 13,944 929 423 1945 183 7,686 479 141 1946 46 1,932 64 0 1947 5 210 4 0 Year Unk. 185 Total 1,614 67,700 8,421 2193^
^Includes some U.S. Navy passengers.
Mariner Casualties by Month in 1942
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 289 435 570 381 493 624 259 151 338 303 306 214
Armed Guard Casualties by month in 1942 (Total 622)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 9 21 8 20 34 52 57 38 104 110 102 67
Owned or Chartered Ships Attacked Before Pearl Harbor
At least 243 mariners were killed in action before Pearl Harbor.
|10/09/39||SS City of Flint||Hog Island freighter||Capture by pocket battleship Deutchland||Released||NAtlantic||None|
|06/12/40||Exochorda||Freighter||Shelled||Slight damage||Med-Black Sea||None|
|11/09/40||City of Rayville||Freighter||German mine||Sunk||Australian coast||Crew 1|
|12/21/40||Charles Pratt||Tanker (Panama)||Torpedo||Sunk||SAtlantic||Crew 2|
|05/21/41||Robin Moor||Hog Islander||Torpedo & Shelled||Sunk||Caribbean||None|
|08/11/41||Iberville||Freighter||Aerial mine from German aircraft||Damaged||Red Sea||None|
|08/17/41||Longtaker [former Danish Sessa]||Freighter (Panama)||Torpedo & Shelled||Sunk||NAtlantic||Crew 24 (3 survivors)|
|09/05/41||Steel Seafarer||Freighter||Bombed by German aircraft||Sunk||Gulf of Suez||None|
|09/11/41||Montana [former Danish Paula]||Freighter (Panama)||Torpedo||Sunk||North Atlantic||Crew 26|
|09/19/41||Pink Star [former Danish Landby]||Freighter (Panama)||Torpedo||Sunk||North Atlantic||Crew 13|
|09/27/41||I. C. White||Tanker (Panama)||Torpedo||Sunk||South Atlantic||Crew 3|
|10/16/41||Bold Venture [former Danish Alssund]||Freighter (Panama)||Torpedo||Sunk||North Atlantic||Crew 17, (17 survivors)|
|11/11/41||Meridian [former Italian Dino]||Freighter (Panama)||Torpedo||Sunk||North Atlantic||Crew approx. 38|
|11/14/41||Crusader [former Danish Brosund]||Freighter||Torpedo||Sunk||North Atlantic||Crew approx 33; German POW 1|
|11/16/41||Turecamo Boys||Tug||Unknown||Sunk||North Atlantic||Crew 9|
|11/19/41||Del Pidio||Unknown (Philippines)||Mine||Unknown||Philippines||Crew 6|
|11/19/41||Edridio Mindoro||(67 ton)||Mine||Sunk||Philippines||Unknown|
|12/07/41||Cynthia Olson||Steam Schooner||Torpedo||Sunk||Pacific||Crew 33; US Army 2|
33 United States Flag Merchant
Ships That Vanished
(Confirmation of attacks came after World War II from German records)
|SS Albert F. Paul||SS Lake Osweya||SS Norlavore^^|
|SS Astral||SS La Salle||SS Norvana|
|SS Azalea City||SS Louisiana||SS Robin Goodfellow|
|SS C. J. Barkdull||SS Louise Lykes||SS Robert Gray|
|SS Coamo||SS L.J. Drake||SS Samuel Heintzelman|
|SS Cynthia Olson||SS Major Wheeler||SS Sumner I. Kimball|
|SS Edward B. Dudley||SS Margaret||SS Sunoil|
|SS Esso Williamsburg||SS Mariana||SS Tillie Lykes^^|
|SS Frances Salman||SS Meridian||SS West Ivis|
|SS James McKay||SS Meriwether Lewis||SS West Portal|
|SS John Winthrop||SS Muskogee||SS Wichita|
^^Not due to enemy action
Names of Mariners killed during World War II
We are extremely grateful to Perry and Barbara Adams of San Carlos, CA who did much of the data entry for the following names of mariners, and who graciously provided their list. Thank you!
The names of about 300 mariners are listed as "Unknown" at this time. We know only that a certain number of persons were lost when ships such as the Cieba, or Olympic when down. This is particularly true for Panamanian flag ships which were U.S. owned and controlled by the War Shipping Administration to carry supplies and raw material for the war effort.
Thank you all who have written with corrections and additions.
U.S. Naval Armed Guard Casualties During World War II
The Most Dangerous Positions for Mariners during WWII
Analysis of casualties by position.
Where Deceased Mariners Made their Homes during WWII
Analysis of State or Country of next of kin of mariners
Merchant Marine Casualties WSA Press Release 2293 (W) June 13,1945
Ships Sunk or Damaged in World War II
Allied Merchant Ship Losses 1939 to 1943
Battle of the Atlantic Statistics
Merchant Marine in WWII
Lists of Ships
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