Monday, March 18, 2013

Military Monday -- Arnold G. Tew, Jr.

Arnold G. Tew, Jr. at Kings Point 
Arnold G. Tew, Jr. with his parents, Arnold G. Tew, Sr. and Huldah Tew, at his graduation
from Kings Point, the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Great Neck, New York.

Arnold G. Tew, Jr.
My father grew up in Cranston and Woonsocket, Rhode Island and later lived for a time in Wallingford, Connecticut with his Aunt Edna (Tew) Tarr and his Uncle Clifford Tarr.

Just nine days before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II, my father turned nineteen years old.  In March 1944 he graduated from Kings Point, the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Great Neck, New York.  Almost immediately he was at sea supporting the war effort by moving tons of cargo in supply convoys to Europe and other locations.  He served with the Merchant Marine until October 1952.

While my father was at Kings Point, cadets also spent about six months at sea before graduation.  In 1942, his class was split alphabetically for their cadet sea service and training either in the Atlantic or the Pacific. Those whose last names were toward the end of the alphabet, like my father's, drew cadet service in the Pacific.  My father has said many times that he thinks he is alive only because he drew service in the Pacific. 

In the Atlantic, the so-called "Battle of the Atlantic" raged from 1939 until Germany was defeated in 1945 -- and the battle reached its greatest intensity during the period from mid-1940 through the end of 1943.  It included the period of my father's cadet service in the Pacific.

The Battle of the Atlantic has been called the longest continuous military campaign of World War II and as Winston Churchill later stated, "The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air depended ultimately on its outcome."  During this period, the Allied naval forces attempted a blockade of Germany while at the same time the merchant ships were doing their utmost to move cargo across the Atlantic to keep military forces supplied with weapons and other materials needed to sustain Allied efforts.  Germany responded to the blockade and to the supply efforts with a concerted and continuous attack against Allied naval and merchant ships.  They used U-boats (submarines), surface vessels and Luftwaffe aircraft.  From 1942 onward, German forces were especially directed at preventing a build-up of equipment and supplies that would support any Allied attempt to invade mainland Europe.  While ultimately the blockade of Germany failed, the Allies were able to win the "war of tonnage" by keeping Allied forces supplied with what was needed to bring the war to Germany and the Axis powers.

Few people realize the terrible cost of winning the tonnage supply battle that raged in the Atlantic.  There were 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships lost during the Battle of the Atlantic, while Germany suffered a loss of 783 U-boats.  Some 3.1 million tons of merchant ships were lost during World War II and 1 in 24 merchant mariners died -- making the fatality rate of the Merchant Marines the highest casualty rate of any service during the war!  My father served on merchant ships in all the recognized theaters of war during WWII beginning with his cadet service in November 1942 (when he was 20 years old) through VJ Day in August 1945.  Most of his service was as either 2nd or 3rd Mate on the merchant ships Mishmaha, Vernon L. Parrington, Samuel Ashe and Sea Phoenix.

My father survived the war and continued service with the Merchant Marine until Fall 1952.  He ultimately gained his Master Mariner papers, which allowed him to take any size ship anywhere in the world.  My father is 90 years old now and a proud member of what has been called, "The Greatest Generation!" 

My father holding his WWII Merchant Marine Service medals.
[The ring on his hand is his Kings Point Class ring.]

WWII Honor Roll in Wallingford, Connecticut outside the former Lyman Hall school
Close-up of the Wallingford, Connecticut WWII Honor Roll
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All photos from the collection of the author.

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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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1 comment:

  1. Hello. My name is Juan Hernandez. It is striking good value your father. I took several years looking for information about my grandfather. He was decorated by the War Shipping Administration. But I can find record of it. I do not know where to look. I possess the certificate was granted. My email is:

    Many Thanks