Scott County, Tennessee
FNB Chronicles

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World War II Navy Armed Guard

The Navy’s Armed Guard veterans are truly "unsung heroes".

After having been organized during World War I, the Armed Guard of the U.S. Navy was re-activated in 1941 when World War II was spreading through the European countries.

The main purpose of the Armed Guard was to protect allied and American merchant ships: to maintain the guns and ammunition, protect the ship, its crew and precious cargo from the enemy, with the order to fire the guns as long as the ship was afloat. This was to keep the enemy from crippling the ship, then boarding it for provisions they needed to stay on patrol longer.

Scott Countians GEORGE ROARK, CHAD ELLIS and PETE DOUGLAS were three of the 144,970 Armed Guard crew members who guarded 6,236 merchant ships during World War II. Of these, 710 were sunk and many were damaged. Also of these, were 2,710 "liberty ships", 216 of which were sunk. Over 80,000 of the original Armed Guard members were transferred into the fleet as the "Battle of the Atlantic" slowed and the need for experienced gun crews were needed in the Pacific Theater of war. The Armed Guard took men to almost every port in the world and 1,810 to their final resting place.

George Roark

GEORGE ROARK enlisted in the Navy on July 29, 1942, and attended boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. After boot camp he went to gunnery school at Chicago, and then was attached to the Armed Guard Center in South Brooklyn, New York. Many assignments later, he was aboard the 55 Black Hawk, sailing in the Mediterranean Sea – Naples, Sardinia, Corsica and Bizzette – and was involved in the invasion of Southern France on the first wave and was on the beach for 25 days. He was in Marseille from August 15 to September 25, 1944. He received the Bronze Star ribbon. GEORGE was honorably discharged on January 13, 1946 as a GM 2/c.


Chad Ellis

CHAD ELLIS enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 27, 1943, in Cincinnati, Ohio. After boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, he attended Armed Guard School in Gulfport, Mississippi. He was attached to the SS Austin and sailed for England. His ship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean Sea off Algiers, North Africa. The crew-was removed from the ship and, when it was determined to be seaworthy, they boarded it and sailed to Gibraltar where it was docked for repairs. CHAD’s first airplane ride was from Gibraltar to Calcutta, India with his gun crew for re-assignment. CHAD was honorably discharged on March 3, 1946 as an S1/c.



Clifford C. "Pete" Douglas

CLIFFORD C. "Pete" DOUGLAS enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February, 1944. After boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland, he attended gunnery school at Camp Shelton, Virginia. He was then attached to the Armed Guard Center in Brooklyn, New York. PETE was assigned to the SS Arthur M. Huddle sailing for London, England, in July, 1944, during the "Buzz Bomb" Alley period. One cargo that PETE remembered was German prisoners, which were being transported to New York. He also remembers unloading at Antwerp, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. Pete was honorably discharged in May, 1946 as COX 3/c.

The Navy Armed Guard contributed in large measure to the winning of the war. Although the Armed Guard was once again de-activated after World War II, there could be a need in the future to call upon this small but effective force once again to protect vital supply lines.

FNB Chronicle, Vol. 1, No. 4 – Summer 1990
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
(page 12)


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