Guy Anderson Carter is not included in the book Braving the Wartime Seas; his name is not on the Monument at Kings Point and he is not listed among the graduates of the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. Nevertheless following information provided by his family to Thomas Schroeder, Class of 1957 and extensive research by Thomas McCaffery, Class of 1976, we conclude that he was a Kings Point Cadet-Midshipman since an unknown date in the Fall of 1942; and, that he died while serving in the capacity of Third Assistant Engineer while on board the SS John Harvey in Bari, Italy on December 2, 1943.
A summary of the investigation by Thomas McCaffery is as follows:
Guy A. Carter attended Kings Point; there are no documents proving that he graduated from Kings Point or received his Third Assistant Engineer’s license. However, in endorsing his Cadet certificate as Junior Engineer, the USCG gave Carter credit for his Cadet sea experience and education/training at KP. At some point shortly before sailing, the John Harvey’s Third Assistant Engineer, L. Simpson, was injured or became ill and left the ship leaving a vacancy that for some reason could not be filled by a licensed officer. For whatever reason, Guy Anderson Carter was signed on to fill a licensed officer position and was very probably standing the Third Assistant Engineer’s watches under supervision of the Chief Engineer.
The followings reports support these findings.
Guy Anderson Carter: A recounting of his life by his family, primarily from a hand written document by his father.
Guy Anderson Carter was born on January 17, 1920, on Winding Lane Farm in Rockville, Maryland. He grew up and worked on the farm with his father, mother and for other brothers. Guy attended the Rockville Academy, and he graduated from public high school in Montgomery County. His high school teacher noted that Guy excelled in chemistry. He attended Lynchburg College and George Washington University. His hobbies included listening to music from the “big band” era and photography.
Before volunteering for the Merchant Marines, Guy worked at the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland. He also worked at another airplane construction company in California. He could have received a deferral, but elected to volunteer for active duty.
Guy Anderson Carter completed training at the US Merchant Marine School (sic) in Great Neck, Long Island, New York on October 13, 1942. During the training, he received a Certificate of Efficiency as a Lifeboatman No. B144087, and a Certificate of Service as a Qualified Member of Engine Department No. C100052.
Before his first sea voyage, Guy Carter also was qualified as a Member of the Engine Department with the knowledge and duties of Cadet at the Port of Baltimore. Guy’s first sea duty in the Merchant Marines was on the 38-year old, SS Flight Command. This first voyage in October 1942, left from Baltimore to Cuba and on to Panama. The old ship was slow and the escort often left the ship alone. On December 12, 1942, Guy wrote to his family:
“The sea is deep blue, dotted with white-caps, and the sky is egg-shell blue and filled with white and gray cumulus clouds. There is a strong wind and whenever a wave breaks, the wind picks up the water and throws it over the ship. We are running in the trough (parallel to the waves), the waves are crashing against the side of the ship, and we are rolling much more than the other vessels.”
After this first voyage, Guy served on a larger and faster ship, the Liberty Ship – Benjamin Chew. On this second ship, Guy served as a Cadet engineer and a fireman. This ship left for Europe. It touched Iceland and proceeded with a convoy of 80 ships to Ireland and England. During this voyage, five ships in the convoy were destroyed by German U-boats. During the course of action, Guy’s ship was also heavily damaged but it remained afloat. This trip lasted approximately three months.
Guy’s third trip was on the SS John Harvey a ship of the Atlantic and West Indian Lines. This ship left the port of Baltimore in October 5, 1943 and picked up a convoy of ships in Norfolk, Virginia. They proceeded to Oran, Algeria and on to Augusta, Sicily with 40 crew members. On November 26, 1943 they left Augusta for Bari, Italy. The SS John Harvey was carrying telegraph polls, wires and other communication items. This ship was also carrying Mustard Gas bombs to be used only in retaliation if the Germans used Mustard Gas. The ship was moored at the East Jetty with her anchor down at the port of Bari, Italy. The port was crowded with several other ships as part of the early invasion of Italy by Allied forces. German aircraft attacked the harbor on December 2, 1943. During the attack, the SS John Harvey was showered by flaming debris, caught fire and was completely destroyed. All crewmembers on the ship were lost (following added by Blog author) except for Cadet-Midshipman James L. Cahill and one of the able bodied seamen who were ashore when the attack began. When the ship exploded the water and air became contaminated and hundreds of people died from Mustard Gas poisoning before the cause was determined. In a letter to Guy’s family, E. S. Land an administrator in the Merchant Marines during World War II stated:
“Guy Carter was one of those men upon whom the United States depends during war to keep the ships float upon the perilous seas, to transport troops across those seas, and to carry to them the vitally needed material to keep troops fighting until victory is certain and liberty secure.”
Guy Anderson Carter was one of five sons of Guy Lee and Mary Hurley Carter. They grew up on Winding Lane Farm in Rockville, Maryland. Guy was part of the fourth generation of the Carter family to live on the farm. Guy’s younger brother, John McCormick Carter, also served in the merchant Marines. He was also train at the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, Long Island, New York. John perished when torpedoes from a German U-boat (U– 66) destroyed the SS Esso Gettysburg, 100 miles off the coast of Savannah, Georgia on June 10, 1943. Guy and John perished within six months of each other, a rare and unfortunate event in the history of the Merchant Marines. Land from the Carter Farm was later dedicated to the city of Rockville for a local park in memory of Guy and John Carter. Guy and John’s younger brother Hilton Lee Carter served in the Army Air Corps as an officer during World War II, and their youngest brother, Robert Barnhill Carter, graduated from the US Naval Academy after the War.
Guy Anderson Carter receive the Mariner’s Medal in commemoration of the greatest service anyone can render cause or country.
Facts from Guy Anderson Carter’s file
- Carter was born on January 17, 1920. When he had his physical to be a qualified member of the engine department, a Coast Guard document indicates that his age was 23 and his height was 6 feet.
- June 22, 1942 Carter was directed to take a physical examination in Baltimore. The order was signed by H. V. Nerney, District Merchant Marine Cadet Training Instructor, U.S. Coast Guard.
- U.S. Coast Guard document dated October 1, 1942 indicates that Carter was examined for lifeboatmen certificate and he passed it on that date.
- US Coast Guard document dated October 13, 1942 indicates that Seaman’s certificates were issued to Carter; he was given a continuous discharge book and a certificate of service as cadet, engine. The statement of service for this document was indicated to have been at U. S. M. S., Great Neck, Long Island, New York. On the same day he received a certificate of service as a qualified member of the engine department, cadet.
- We have a photograph of Carter standing in his dress white cadet uniform before the mast of the School Ship Emory Rice; this was the typical photo taken of all Cadets before they were shipped out for their shipboard training.
- An instruction from the company A. L. Burbank and Co. dated October 22, 1942, directed Cadet Guy A. Carter to proceed to the Panamanian steamer Flight Command in Baltimore, Maryland.
- There is a letter to the Carter family dated December 12, 1942 describing his voyage on the Flight Command.
- There is a record of entry in his continuous discharge book on February 2, 1943 at New York with a rating of engine cadet on the Benjamin Chew on a foreign voyage.
- There is a fragment of a document from the U.S. Government indicating that Guy A. Carter, in the capacity of junior engineer who had shipped on the SS John Harvey on 10-5-43 in Baltimore was missing as his vessel was sunk by aircraft on 12-2-43.
- A Western Union telegraph was sent to Guy L. Carter in Rockville, Maryland from the Navy Department regretting to inform him that his son Guy Anderson Carter was missing in the service of his country while serving in the American Merchant Marine; it was signed by Vice Admiral R. R. Waesche, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard.
- A news clipping from the Evening Star, 28 January 1944, indicates that the second son of the Rockville couple is missing following an enemy ship attack. In another news clipping it indicates that the second Carter son was lost in action and is missing following enemy action in the Mediterranean on December 2, 1943. The article indicates Carter had completed preliminary training at the US Merchant Marine Academy Kings Point and that he made several missions to foreign ports in connection with his training.
- There is a letter from the War Shipping Administration on October 25, 1945 to Mr. Guy L. Carter notifying the family that Guy Anderson Carter was issued the Mariner’s Medal in commemoration of the greatest service anyone can render cause or country.
- In the book A Careless Word A Needless Sinking by Capt. Arthur Moore, there is a table of the names of the crew members on the SS John Harvey that was sunk on December 2, 1943. It lists Guy A. Carter as Third Engineer.
- In a document hand written by Guy L. Carter, father of Guy Anderson Carter, his father indicates that both his boys attended the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. He said that the first ship that Guy was assigned was an old Italian ship that was seized in New York.
Guy Anderson Carter. Analysis of the records by Thomas McCaffery
While we were unable to locate Carter’s Merchant Mariner file, I was able to locate the file copy of the Shipping Articles for the John Harvey’s last voyage. The Crew List I located was dated September 27, 1943. It shows an individual named L. Simpson as the ship’s Third Assistant Engineer. There was no modification to the Third Assistant Engineer entry as was the case for another seaman. However, L. Simpson did not sign the Shipping Articles on October 5, 1943. Instead, in the row that would normally be for the Third Assistant Engineer Guy Carter signed on as Jr. Engineer. The notation Jr. Eng. is found both in the column for his position, and the column for listing his license or certificate number. In the position column the position of 2nd Asst. is lined through and Jr. Eng. written above it. The license number for the Chief, First Assistant and Second Assistant Engineers are listed in their rows. In Guy Carter’s column this number is his cadet certificate number C100052, which we know was endorsed as Jr. Engineer at Baltimore, MD on September 9, 1943.
So, what do we know now? First, Guy A. Carter was not signed on as Third Assistant Engineer. Second, he had not passed his license examination or otherwise received his Third Assistant Engineer license. Third, the man who was listed as the ship’s Third Assistant Engineer on September 27, did not sign the Shipping Articles a week later when the ship was ready to sail. Fourth, the line on which Guy Carter signed the Shipping Articles was the line where the Third Assistant Engineer should have signed on. Fifth, there was some confusion as to what license or endorsement Carter had either immediately prior to or during the sign on process. Finally, we know that due to the war that ships sailed short or with crew that might not meet the full requirements for their position.
From all of this I conclude that while Guy A. Carter attended Kings Point, he neither graduated from Kings Point nor received this Third Assistant Engineer’s license. However, in endorsing his Cadet certificate as Jr. Engineer, the USCG gave Carter credit for his Cadet sea experience and education/training at Kings Point. At some point shortly before sailing, the John Harvey’s Third Assistant Engineer, L. Simpson, was injured or became ill and left the ship leaving a vacancy that for some reason could not be filled by a licensed officer. For whatever reason Guy Carter was signed on to fill a licensed officer position and was very probably standing the Third Assistant Engineer’s watches under supervision of the Chief Engineer.
The bottom line is that we put others in the book under similar circumstances, so his story, as far as we know it, should go in the blog since it is too late to put it into the book. However, this does bring up the issue of how many other men who dropped out of Kings Point, sailed as unlicensed mariners and subsequently died in action. I would have to say that this would require locating a list of everyone who ever sailed as a Cadet and cross referencing this with the lists of merchant marine dead. I am not sure that such a herculean task would have an equal benefit.
THIS BLOG ENTRY WAS SUBMITTED BY GEORGE J. RYAN