WWII’s Most Dangerous Role – You Were Lucky If You Made It Out Alive
(Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
There were many hazardous occupations of WWII ranging from pilots, infantry, marines they all came with their risks. But during the war, there was one occupation that proved to be the most dangerous of them all. The most dangerous job of all was serving in the Merchant Marine fleet
Merchant Marines were tasked with the duty of providing cargo across the Atlantic into combat zones to in the struggle against the Axis Powers. Crossing the Atlantic may not sound like the most difficult thing in the world to do, but it was a danger because these ships were virtually defenseless against attack from German U-boats.
“Merchant ships faced danger from submarines, mines, armed raiders and destroyers, aircraft, “Kamikaze,” and the elements. Some were blown to death, some incinerated, some drowned, some froze, and some starved.”
Eventually, the United States reached a point where merchant vessels being destroyed outpaced the number of ships being produced. It was then that a new vessel called the Liberty Ship was developed by Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser to help aid this problem. Older vessels took around 240 days to reach completion, but a streamlined construction process allowed Liberty Ships to be built in as little as 42 days.
Liberty Ships transported their cargo across the freezing waters of the Atlantic in convoys of up to 50 ships, guarded by several destroyers. However, strength in numbers only got them so far and these ships were still vulnerable to sneak attacks.
The story of the Merchant Marine was no easy undertaking, but it was necessary to win the war. In this clip, you can see archival footage of the Merchant Marines paired with a song chronicling their endeavors from Celtae. It’s different but it is a worthy way to tell the stories of the brave men and women who gave their lives.