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Heading Home at Last

June 12, 2012

From Al’s letter to his sisters in the last post, we learned that he will be home by the end of 1945.   Although he finished his tour officially as a member of Battery B of the 548th AAA AW Battalion,  he was actually serving  and returned home with the 548th Quartermaster Depot Company. To prepare for returning home, soldiers reported to camps like Camp Lucky Strike, assembly points for troops waiting for home-bound ships, located between LeHavre and Rouen. [Note:  It is estimated that some 3 million American troops either entered or left Europe through LeHavre, which led to it being known as the “Gateway to America” around this time].   Al’s unit shipped out  of the Port of LeHavre in northwestern France at 9:33 a.m. on November 12, 1945 on  SS Montclair Victory.  Travel time back to the U.S. was 8 days.  The ship landed and the troops had their initial processing at Camp Myles Standish, at the Boston Port of Embarkation.

From the ship’s Log:
Number of nautical miles covered each day up until 12:00 Noon on 19 November:

12 November 1945         28
13 November 1945        427
14 November 1945        395
15 November 1945        432
16 November 1945        406
17 November 1945        342
18 November 1945        329
19 November 1945        385
Distance yet to go         314
Distance from Boston
Lightship to Army Pier  18
          TOTAL             3076

Photo of the Lane Victory, Similar to Montclair Victory

Unable to locate photograph on the Montclair Victory, but the Lane Victory is one of the same series.

Historic Naval Ships Association photo of SS Lane Victory

What Was Life Like on the Ship?

The retro-fitted ships tended to be over-crowded and  some of the passengers suffered from motion sickness.  As the Troop Commander, John G. Llewellyn wrote in their last edition of the Montclair Victory Herald, “While I realize only too well that from a physical viewpoint this has not been too happy a trip for many of you, I sincerely hope and trust that you will take away with you the full realization that everything humanly possible to make this voyage a…successful and joyous affair.

History of the  Montclair Victory

The SS Montclair Victory was launched on November 16, 1944 and commissioned on December 13, 1944. It was one of a series of Victory ships made during World War II and, according to the ship’s own information, was named after Montclair, New Jersey.  The town was accorded this honor after purchasing War Bonds in an amount which provided the money for this vessel.

The Montclair Victory was built at the Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyards in Baltimore, Maryland.    Her maiden voyage, carrying ammunition, was on the same day as her commissioning.

The ship was converted to a troop transport in April, 1945 to bring the soldiers home after the war.  The trip carrying Al and the others was its 5th voyage as a troop ship.  This particular trip was carrying 1955 officers and enlisted men.

The Montclair Victory was owned by the War Shipping Administration, a government agency but operated by a private shipping company, the Atlantic Gulf West Indies Line.

Souvenir Issue Cover of the Montclair Victory Herald

Next:  Home Again, Now What?

  1. Weird. My dad was with the 110th Quartermaster and was mustered out of the army with the 448th AAAWB. Just backwards from Al. I have always wondered why? Now with seeing they did it both ways it makes no sense. lol

    • Thanks for commenting. I sense there was alot of transfers throughout the war, with all the replacement depots they had. There is a notation on the ship’s newsletter that there wasn’t one original member of the 548th QM Depot Company who returned with the unit!

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