Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Who were the U.S. Navy Armed Guards?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: June 26, 2012 
Print Friendly
1 comment FONT +  FONT -

 Who were the U.S. Navy "Armed Guards" and what did they do?

Joseph Forbes,
Pittsburgh, PA

? ? ?

Formed as the United States was entering the war, the U.S. Naval Armed Guard was a contingent of personnel charged with defending American and Allied merchant ships from attack by enemy aircraft, submarines and surface ships. Contingents of this—gunners, signal men, and radio operators—served aboard every troop, cargo, and other merchant vessels on all fronts. If a U-boat's periscope was spotted amid a North Atlantic convoy, if a Junkers Ju-88A made a dive-bombing attack on the Murmansk run or a kamikaze tried to take out an auxiliary off Okinawa, it would find a Naval Armed Guard fighting back at the deck gun. Among the most famous actions occurred when the German disguised raider Stier, accompanied by the blockade runner Tannenfels, encountered the Liberty Ship Stephen Hopkins in the South Atlantic on September 27, 1942. Called to surrender, Stephen Hopkins' crew chose to fight, pitting its one 4-inch gun and 37 mm anti-aircraft guns against Stier's six 5.9-inchers and Tannenfels' machine guns. When Lt (jg) Stephen Willett and his Naval Armed Guard members were cut down, merchant seamen, including Cadet Erwin J. O'Hara, took their place at the guns until Stephen Hopkins inevitably succumbed. Two hours later, Stier's crew abandoned and scuttled their own burning ship. Of Stephen Hopkins' 57-man crew, 15 survived to see their lifeboat make landfall in Brazil. Not until they met in reunions long after the war could the Germans be convinced they had not been victims of a special, heavily armed Allied Q-ship. Willett was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, while O'Hara and Stephen Hopkins' Captain Paul Buck received posthumous Distinguished Service Medals.

The Naval Armed Guard was disbanded with the end of World War II, though it wouldn't be a bad thing to revive for merchant vessels currently playing the Red Sea. More on the subject can be found at www.armed-guard.com.

Sincerely,

 

Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History


One Response to “Who were the U.S. Navy Armed Guards?”


  1. 1
    Larry Baran says:

    There is a hotel called Federal City Inn located on an old Navy base across the Mississippi river from New Orleans in Gretna, LA. Is this the former location where the Armed Guard forces stayed in World War 2?



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy