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Writing article on WWII Lady Lex (CV-2)...

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Question: An enlisted man qualified for Gun Captain 1c in September 1941 and appointed Boatswain's Mate 1c in October 1941. During the attack on Lady Lex on May 8, 1942, would he be manning the guns or performing Boatswain's duties? Would his rank still be Boatswain's Mate 1c or was Gun Captain separate? Confused--trying to place him on the ship at time of attack. Thanks for any clarification.

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Aloha,

 

He would be a Boatswain's Mate first class. The other answer is, possibly both. That would have been determined by the Watch, Quarter and Station Bill for his Division which details each sailors given station during different evolutions. In this instance, his Battle Station during General Quarters (GQ). As for this Division, he would most likely be assigned to a deck division (1st, 2nd, ect). Clear as mud eh?

 

Resources to track this down would include the ships' muster rolls, his personnel record or the division records which of course most if not all went down with the ship.

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First, just so we are using the same terms, his rating would be Boatswain's Mate, while his rate would be Petty Officer First Class. The rating was the job specialty, while the rate refers (at least incidentally) to pay rate.

 

By 1941, I don't believe there was a ratting for Gun Captain, but only a Distinguishing Mark, sort of a skill qualification independent of a sailor's rating. I'm a badge collector, so while there was no rating badge for Gun Captain, it is possible there was a Gunner's Mate sub-specialty referred to as such, but not that I am aware of.

 

As far as what job this sailor had on the ship, I agree you can't tell by the info you have provided.


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What David said is correct, Gun Captain was a distinguishing mark, not a rating. It was something that you qualified for and wore the mark on your sleeve. There was a rating of Turret Captain but only for 1st class and CPO. Don't get a gun captain confused with Turret Captain. Gun captain was for the smaller guns like 5", 40mm, 1.1.. Since the LEX had her 8" gun turrets til March of 1942, If you talking about her action in the Coral Sea, she probably would not have had Turret Captains unless there was someone (Gunner's Mates) still aboard that had been qualified for advancement to 1st or CPO but had been officially advanced.

 

That's a lot of info, but my guess is you're looking for someone qualified as a gun captain. Also, looks like the muster reports are available through March 1942.


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What David said is correct, Gun Captain was a distinguishing mark, not a rating. It was something that you qualified for and wore the mark on your sleeve. There was a rating of Turret Captain but only for 1st class and CPO. Don't get a gun captain confused with Turret Captain. Gun captain was for the smaller guns like 5", 40mm, 1.1.. Since the LEX had her 8" gun turrets til March of 1942, If you talking about her action in the Coral Sea, she probably would not have had Turret Captains unless there was someone (Gunner's Mates) still aboard that had been qualified for advancement to 1st or CPO but had been officially advanced.

 

That's a lot of info, but my guess is you're looking for someone qualified as a gun captain. Also, looks like the muster reports are available through March 1942.

Sorry, the end of the last sentence in the first paragraph should have read "had not been officially advanced." [it wouldn't let me go back in and edit it.]


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Gun captain was a qualification in addition to rating as was said above. A sailor of any rate could qualify if he passed the requirements and was regularly detailed to take charge of a 3-inch or larger gun crew on his ship. It was noted in his record and he got to wear the distinguishing mark and an extra $2 (petty officer) or $3 a month (non-rated). With further experience he could qualify as a first class gun captain. The mark was the same but he got $5 a month.

 

Any rate could qualify, but it was obviously more common in the seaman branch ratings.


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As Navy personnel records go you need to read with caution. It sounds like he attained the Gun Capt F cl at an earlier date and then was advanced to BM1 (pay grade) a ship like the Lexington would have more BM1's than were required to do the Bosun specific stuff. All BM's would have been proficient in gunnery skills but on a Watch Quarter station bill the most qualified hold positions like the Helm. As to the question, having Gun Capt is a qualification in addition to his Rank and Rate would not restrict him to manning a gun during general quarters as to the personnel record entry they are two separate things. Does this make the mud any clearer?

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Thank you to all my wonderful experts who helped me with this question. My deep appreciation!

On every ship I served on, with maned gun mounts, 5 inch and 3 inch, the Mount Captain (Gun Captain during WW2), was a BM 1 or 2. Deck divisions and Supply department provide gun crews. Gunners mates are in charge of magazines and gun repair. Im sure if your BM1/c was a qualified Gun Captain, that for General Quarters (Battle Stations), he was assigned to a gun mount. The rest of the time he would be preforming duties in Deck Department.

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