William Geroux: The Mathews Men

Another book let down by its subtitle Because while these seven intrepid brothers do appear this isn t their storyInstead it s the story of Matthews County as a whole and the inordinate number of men they sent down to the sea who had ships torpedoed from under them who didn t all return and who seem to have seen very port in the world on their travelsThere s not a great deal of narrative here apart from the arc of the war Instead it s a litany of sinkings and bravery Of close calls and unlucky decisions And while those don t get tiring how awe inspiring it is to read ordinary men doing Dark Awakening extraordinary things it still doesn t tell a story If you ll pardon thexpression WWII history involving U boats and battles at sea just isn t in my wheelhouse but this book is a wee bit different First of all it focuses on the Merchant Marine and its involvement in the war which I knew nothing about and second the people highlighted in this book are rather uniue they re all from one small isolated county in Virginia on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay It was a place where as one man who grew up there noted You farmed you fished the Bay or you went to sea Those were your only options Mathews men had been on the oceans since colonial times and were sought out by a number of shipping companies This is an Hawks Way (Hawks Way excellent first book for the author The story takes place during the period of 1942 to thend of WWII William Geroux brings to life the story of the men who risked their lives in Merchant Marine delivering cargo in the shadow of Hitler s U Boats The book follows the lives of seven brothers their Family Men extended families and friends from Mathews County Virginia It wasspecially interesting to find out about the U Boat activities along the Creative Participation east coast and the Caribbean I highly recommend this book I found this book very interesting I had no idea there were that many German U Boats on the coast of the US and in the Caribbean It s shocking how many ships were sunk by the U Boats and the US Government took their time with convoys to help these merchant marines A lot of the ship captains were from the same family and from the same small community of Mathews County Virginia It shocked me how these men would be torpedoed abandon ship survive in a lifeboat and then go back out again The water was where they felt they needed to be Anyone who is interested in World War II should read this book and see another side of the war A side that came very very close to our shores Very well written and informative The book kept my attentionI received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review I ve had this book for a while and I m glad I finally got around to reading it This was Nonfiction WWII Military History It is a book about the men from Mathews county Virginia It seemed like the best living for the male population in this county was at sea leaving the women at home to raise the children and grow the food During WWII the number of deaths at sea is a staggering number The U boats were deadly The men who were considered to be merchant marines were also considered to be volunteers at that time They ran supplies and whateverlse was needed for the war through the deadly seas and so many lives were lost I listened to the audio and the narrator Arthur Morey did a fabulous job He had the perfect voice for this one So 4 star William Geroux has written a totally Sabina Spielrein eye opening book about the history of The Mathews Men and the Merchant Marines It not only tells the story of a small county in Mathews Virginia and it s heritage with the sea it also tells how WWII forever changed the lives of the families living thereIt s the forgotten story of how the men from Mathews Virginia took to the sea to support their families as their forefathers had done It s the forgotten story of how they worked their way up to become Captains of their ships and helped the other men from Mathews do the same Starting before the United States officiallynters the war the Men of Mathews and the Merchant Marines sail their ships full of goods supplies food fuel travelers and arms to support the Allies in Europe Unprotected they face the German U boats alone resulting in losses of both materials and lives It s the forgotten story of how the German U boats almost decimated the shipping industry resulting in the United States losing staggering amounts of supplies oil and men s lives and almost losing the war It s the forgotten story of the US Militaries failure to protect the Merchant Marines in the arly stages of WWIIIt s the forgotten story of how these same men from Mathews Virginia and the Merchant Marines took part in Operation Torch in 1942 bringing supplies and food to the besieged island of Malta It s the forgotten story of how the Merchant Marines and the Mathews Men were part of the Invasion of Africa Italy and D Day by transporting troops landing craft transports and armaments necessary for theses successes and ven transporting the B 29 crewmen to Tinian Island who would crew the Enola GayIn short it is the forgotten story overlooked in the US History books of a group of men who should be honored as heroes not forgotten It s the story of group of men and families who were for years denied for years the benefits Personnel Management in Government enjoyed by the military such as the GI Bill and medical care Reading this over Memorial Weekend made me appreciate the sacrifices of these men There was no flag for the Merchant Marines flown that day nor a call to stand if you were among this group of heroes I find that very sad I for one will remember that without the Men from Mathews and the Merchant Vividly drawn andmotionally gripping Daniel James Brown #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat From the author of The Ghost Ships of Archangel one of the last unheralded heroic stories of World War II the U boat assault off the American coast against the men of the US Merchant Marine who were supplying the European war and one community's monumental contribution to that Out of This World effortMathews County Virginia is a remote outpost on the Chesapeake Bay with little to offerxcept unspoiled scenery but it sent an unusually large concentration of sea captains to fight in World War II The Mathews Men tells that heroic story through the The Time It Never Rained experiences of onextraordinary family whose seven sons and their neighbors US merchant mariners all suddenly found themselves suarely in the cross hairs of the U boats bearing dow.

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Marine fleet was the Childrens Phantasies essential lifeline for a huge portion of those resources Naturally the Germans decided to start sinking the Merchant Marine While a modern American might assume that our Navy could protect the merchant ships the sad fact was that we lacked the ships to provide any meaningful protection in 1942 Half our navy was in the Pacific and a bunch of the Atlantic fleet had already been sent to England under the lend lease programSo many Merchant Marine vessels went out to face German U boats armed with little than luck That was insufficientWilliam Geroux skillfullyxplains the logistics of the arly American war ffort and the Merchant Marine s vital role in that The Soviet Union effort He also tells several heartbreaking or infuriating stories of loss and heroism at sea as ship after ship gets torpedoed by the German U boat fleet These stories naturally aren t part of the American narrative of WWII it s not too inspiring to read of oil tankers being sunk at the mouth of the Mississippi River or the fact that American coastal cities refused to dim their lights at night most European ports were on blackout status the bright city lights made hunting Merchant Marine vessels at night asasy for a U boat commander as hunting in broad daylight due to worries about the impact on local businesses While America uickly ramps up for war 1942 and 1943 were brutal years for the Merchant Marine and their families And yet their sacrifices were Gods and Heroes essentially ignored overshadowed by the triumphs of our real military Geroux s bookxtensively researched and complete with Science, Technology and Culture excellent maps notes and bios of the key players helps fill in this unforgiveable gap in America s understanding of who contributed to our military success It is particularly poignant to read this history today as our own militaryfforts are so far removed from American daily life it is a stark reminder that in WWII the war was fought on the home front as wellHighly recommended An interesting book on CD for me on several levels and a much longer review than usual We used to live on the Pouoson River not all that many miles south of Mathews But also interesting for the new information to me about U boats and WWII Lots of oh wow stats that I haven t completely retained since I often listen in bed so can t jot things downI had never known just how active U boats were off our coast for No Beast So Fierce example Vessels were torpedoed and people ashore in Cape May and Virginia Beach could see them ablaze U boats set mines INSIDE the Chesapeake Bay sinking vessels U boats would target ships silhouetted against the lights of New York City and Virginia Beach There were not many U boats at the start of the war so the Germans named them U 456 or U 594 to make it seem like there were Butven small wolf packs were deadly because the allies were slow to take defensive measures such as destroyer coverage for convoys These convoys would ventually have 100 or ships and would be perhaps 5 miles wide but only 2 3 ships deep because they were so much vulnerable from the sides The most vulnerable ships tankers and ammo carriers would be in the interiorEventually the Germans were building U boats but we were building Liberty Ships at the rate of about 40 a month Sidebar When I was in college I sailed to Europe on a One time Liberty Ship Later when we lived in California we visited the Jeremiah O Brien a surviving Liberty Ship now in San Francisco This book rroneously says it is in BaltiMany descriptions of Last Chance Bride encounters convoys to Murmansk and sinkings in the Caribbean In one case Caribbean fishermen butchering a shark they d caught found human remains including two rings The ownership of one ring was found to be a Mathews manThend of the book Whos Cheatin Who? (Thoroughbred Legacy epilogues many of the Mathews characters and their families and also wraps up the maritime war The D Day invasion second largest in history after Sicily involved 5300 vessels not a typo The convoy heading to France was 15 miles acrossAfter thend of the war U boats were directed to surrender at the nearest Allied port and two did in CONUS at Cape May and Portland NH In all about 900o mariners were lost and it was only in the 1980s they were awarded veterans benefits Oh CONUS is military for continental USThe death rate in the US Navy was about 15% for mariners it was almost 4% second only to US Marines U boats however were much dangerous with a death rate of about 70%At the Lawman Lover (Outlaws, end of the war there were about 5000 US non military vessels remaining than half of all the ships in the world Most were sold off to allies and because of US regulations our present maritime presence is very low Some of the remaining merchant ships still flying US flags are well subsidized by the government with the understanding they are immediately available in thevent of national needThe City Girl in Training end of the book describes the 100s of WWII vessels lying on the US continental shelf most now rusting away and stripped by divers before the 2004 law protecting the wrecks Forxample the U 869 was in 235 feet off New Jersey the U 166 was in 5000 feet in the Gulf of Mexico There are some 80 wrecks just off OBX in NCAll in all an interesting book This was a fact filled book full of interesting stories The Merchant Marines played such an important part in supplying our allies in WWII but were not valued as part of the military The German U boats sinking their ships all along the Atlantic In the year 1943 approximately 548 ships lay on the ocean floor and 3000 sailors were dead With joining the force and devising the concept of the convoy greatly improved their missions It was something I knew very little about in WWI. Dreaded Murmansk Run Through their Mystery at Kittiwake Bay experiences we haveyewitnesses to Dangerous Waters (Cold Case Files every danger zone invery kind of ship Some died horrific deaths Others fought to survive torpedo xplosions flaming oil slicks storms shark attacks mine blasts and harrowing lifeboat odysseys only to ship out again on the next boat as soon as they'd returned to safety The Mathews Men shows us the war far beyond traditional battlefields often the US merchant mariners' life and death struggles took place just off the US coast but also takes us to the landing beaches at D Day and to the Pacific When final victory is ours General Dwight D Eisenhower had predicted there is no organization that will share its credit deservedly than the Merchant Marine Here finally is the heroic story of those merchant seamen recast as the human story of the men from Mathew.

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Arines the outcome could have been so different I for one will look at Veteran s Day and Memorial Day and remember this wonderful book The US Merchant Marine s fatality rate in World War II was approximately 39 percent one of very 26 mariners who sailed on a merchant ship The only branch of the US military with a comparably high fatality rate was the US Marines The casualty rate for the US Navy was 149 percent less than half the casualty rate of the Merchant Marine All a man from Mathews County Virginia had to do to get a job on a ship was to mention to the person in charge of hiring where he was born They were not only well respected seamen but were also xpected to rise up the chain of command uickly to become captains When World War II broke out many were already serving on ships but soon most of the men of Mathews County were serving in the Merchant Marine There were five families who contributed almost very available male to the war the Hodges family had ten men serving the Callis family also had ten the Hudgins family had seven the Hammond family had three and the Respess family had two A predominant number of those men had Captain in front of their name before the An Italian Education end of the war Many of them never made it home For ten months after Pearl Harbor the US Merchant Marine had kept the war from being lost They had kept Britain supplied with the oil munitions and food needed to continue fighting the Nazis They had deliverednough oil and raw materials such as manganese and bauxite to keep American factories churning out ships planes tanks and other weapons They had carried tens of thousands of American troops to England for future invasions The Merchant Marines have always had a romantic allure to men from all over the world It was a organization from which to Protecting the Colton Bride Coltons Cowboy Code escape few uestions werever asked It was a place a man could avoid his past and make a new name for himself Spurned by your wife join the Merchant Marine Kill a man join the Merchant Marine Have a knock down drag out with your father join the Merchant Marine I ve always thought of them as hardworking hard living men who lost fingers at sea and lost their wages to crooked card games to alluring light fingered hookers and thugs in dark alleys I was shocked to discover that out of all the American men who went to war the Merchant Marines had the most dangerous job For seven months the U boats had had their way in American waters sinking than three hundred merchant ships and killing thousands of merchant seamen They had sent millions of tons of Allied food supplies munitions and fuel into the sea playing havoc with the Look-Alike Lawman (Texas Twins, enemy s supply line So the plan during the first seven months of the United States officiallyntering the war was to send out hundreds of these ships with supplies and hope the majority of them managed to make it to their destination These ships did not have any weapons to defend themselves or air cover or destroyers standing between them and the German wolfpack of U Boats It is really baffling It didn t make sense to the German Admiral Karl Donitz Daddy Wanted either He was in charge of the wolfpack and had no ualms about sinking unprotected ships He only knew that the tonnage that America allowed him to sink the better chance Germany had to prevail A German Wolf Pack of U BoatsSometimes boats would sink slowly sometimes they went down uickly In many cases the U Boat captains did allow seamen time toscape the ship before applying the coup de gr ce with a final devastating point blank torpedo shot Escaping a floundering ship is difficult A sinking ship was a deathtrap that could kill a man in a thousand ways Falling masts and guy wires snagged mariners and pulled them under Jagged debris swirled through the water The ship s hot boilers could Forbidden Stranger explode from contact with cold seawater William Geroux shares with us numerous stories of sacrifice of heroism of terror of maddening bad luck of triumph of death andven an intriguing story about a baby born on a life raft The men of Mathews County were at the heart of all these stories Allied convoy getting ready to cross the AtlanticDonitz was merely putting his wolfpack in the most likely places for allied shipping to be I was amazed to learn how long the United States thought that loose lips were sinking ships instead of just realizing it was a matter of logistics Eve Popular culture in America generally teaches World War II using the highlights method we invariably skip from Pearl Harbor to D Day glossing over the almost three year gap between the two Snowy River Man events The Mathews Men by William Geroux performs the valuable service of reminding us that America s rising to the juggernaut that won WWII reuired a herculean labor and tremendous sacrificeTMM focuses on the good people of Mathews County Virginia a marshy lost point on the Chesapeake Bay Mathews County is filled with villages and hamlets and the locals are born to the water One of the poorest parts of Virginia at the time the poor farmland and access to the sea made a career on the waves a natural choice This county provided an oversized portion of the Merchant Mariners who served anssential but underappreciated role in the Night Moves (Harlequin Blaze early warffort Many would make the ultimate sacrificeWhen America dove into World War II England had been fighting the Germans for a couple of years and the fight was not going well In addition to all the other woes England suffered Germany had adopted a strategy of starving the small island nation England uite simply could not fight Germany with the resources available on its own shores it desperately needed imports and the American Merchant. N on the coastal United States in 1942From the late 1930s to 1945 virtually all the fuel food and munitions that sustained the Allies in Europe traveled not via the Navy but in merchant ships After Pearl Harbor those unprotected ships instantly became the U boats' prime targets And they were Les brumes d'avalon : roman easy targets the Navy lacked the inclination or resources to defend them until the beginning of 1943 Hitler was determined that his U boats should sinkvery American ship they could find sometimes within sight of tourist beaches and to kill as many mariners as possible in order to frighten their shipmates into staying ashoreAs the war progressed men from Mathews sailed the North and South Atlantic the Caribbean the Gulf of Mexico the Mediterranean the Indian Ocean and ven the icy Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle where they braved the.