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Mechant Marine Device


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#1 Tonomachi

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 01:18 PM

I bought this at a flea market for $5.00. My father was in the merchant marines during WW2 which is why I believe this is a pin worn by those merchant marines who survived having their ship sunk from underneath them by enemy submarines. Does anyone know how this was worn? Was it pinned to a particular medal like the Mariner's medal? It is very small measuring only 1/4" x 1 1/4".

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Edited by Tonomachi, 12 November 2007 - 01:19 PM.


#2 wolventm

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 05:56 PM

I bought this at a flea market for $5.00. My father was in the merchant marines during WW2 which is why I believe this is a pin worn by those merchant marines who survived having their ship sunk from underneath them by enemy submarines. Does anyone know how this was worn? Was it pinned to a particular medal like the Mariner's medal? It is very small measuring only 1/4" x 1 1/4".



#3 wolventm

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 06:04 PM

Dear Sir; You are exactly right, this is a device worn by US Merchant Mariners during WWII to signify they had been on a ship which was torpedoed. Considering the nature of the merchant service during WWII, for "torpedoed" you may as well read sunk as very few survived such a hit.

I do not think this is an official award (ie bestowed by the US government) but was either furnished by shipping lines/owners, or privately purchased. I place it in the same category as the caterpillar (given by parachute companies to someone who survived by use of their chute), the winged boot (downed flier who escaped) and goldfish (flier who crash landed in the sea). I have seen one example of this being worn, in a photo of Woody Guthrie taken right after the war; he is playing his guitar, and you can see on the lapel of his coat a union pin (probably International Seamans Union) and the torpedo badge pinned underneath. Since uniform regulations for the Merchant Marine verged from lax to non existent, I think these men wore the pin in any manner they chose.

You have a VERY nice piece, incidentally, I have been looking for one for years and never found one. You made a terrific buy.

#4 Tonomachi

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 10:30 PM

Dear Sir; You are exactly right, this is a device worn by US Merchant Mariners during WWII to signify they had been on a ship which was torpedoed. Considering the nature of the merchant service during WWII, for "torpedoed" you may as well read sunk as very few survived such a hit.

I do not think this is an official award (ie bestowed by the US government) but was either furnished by shipping lines/owners, or privately purchased. I place it in the same category as the caterpillar (given by parachute companies to someone who survived by use of their chute), the winged boot (downed flier who escaped) and goldfish (flier who crash landed in the sea). I have seen one example of this being worn, in a photo of Woody Guthrie taken right after the war; he is playing his guitar, and you can see on the lapel of his coat a union pin (probably International Seamans Union) and the torpedo badge pinned underneath. Since uniform regulations for the Merchant Marine verged from lax to non existent, I think these men wore the pin in any manner they chose.

You have a VERY nice piece, incidentally, I have been looking for one for years and never found one. You made a terrific buy.


Thanks for the information!

#5 Mark M

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 03:17 PM

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#6 SemperParatus

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 08:46 AM

It is a part that goes with the National Maritime Union's Torpedoed Pin. The Union members would get an additional torpedoed pin like this one each time he lost a ship. I seem to recall that there were in fact a few with four or five of these worn above or below the main union pin. They seem to have been pinned on the lapel of civilian clothing, sometimes on a piece of red white and blue ribbon. I have seen a few of these pins on Mariner's Medals but they have nothing to do with that award.  There was also a small green wallet sized card issued with the man's name etc. When you are at yard sales or flea markets take the time to check out button jars. I have found several of these complete pins in button jars as well as other sweetheart type items.




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