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Bernard Smith

Bernard Smith, 2007 

  • Branch of Service: Merchant Marines
  • Military Service: commissioned, 1942 - 1949

Listen to the following sections by scrolling forward to the timecode.

0:00 - Dungaree Navy; lost many merchant marines; operated ships in convoys (up to 120 ships)
4:30 - About 20 trips back and forth across North Atlantic
5:10 - The difference between the military and the Dungaree Navy
6:55 - Hog Island Ship, turbine driven; Liberty and Victory ships
9:05 - Morse code no longer used; radio operators not needed anymore
10:09 - Emergency distress calls and codes; 60-80 men perished whenever a submarine went down  

Bernard Smith Obituary

Independent Submission 

Bernard Smith - Home Front WWII Veteran

Images and Content Provided by Bernard Smith

W.W.II: History soon to be the past of many Vets, now gone on.

At 82 I am hanging in there despite a series of heart attacks. You may not know, but we of the Merchant Marine were called the dungaree Navy. We operated those Cargo Ships as civilians. Civilians as young as fifteen, I was seventeen, and as old as men in their eighties.

The Compliment of men on those ships was 38 or 40. Compare this to the Navy, which was 120 men. I served in the Deck Dept. I was called by a nickname, "Sparks." A Radio Operator, to the uninitiated. I carried the rank of Ensign, in the US Maritime Service. I like many, have stories of that life aboard those 'creaking' ships. You never got time to feel lonely, for you were always on the alert for the "GQ" alarm. I have heard it go off more than once. So this will give you a bit of a preview of what it is like to 'ship-out' on those 'creaking rust buckets."

A copy of the newsletter that was produced aboard the SS Jonathan Worth for troops on board. The newsletter lets the men know where they were and where they were going, and other information such as meal menus.

Photo by Bureau of Aeronautics taken Feb. 23, 1944, of the SS Jonathan Worth, the Liberty Ship Bernard Smith served aboard for a couple of years at the end of WWII while he was in the Merchant Marine.

Certificate of Service, with photo of Bernard Smith as he looked in 1942.

Links provided by Smith:  Liberty Ship; Merchant Marines; Omaha Beach- Alcoa TraderCity of Flint; More City of Flint

The DVD mentioned in Smith's narrative is called "Victory At Sea." It is a three-DVD set of 26 episodes of a WWII documentary.

For more information about SDPB's educational resources 
and services contact Steven Rokusek at or at (605) 222-3422

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