American Legion hears WWII stories of the British Merchant Marine

Thursday, October 13, 2016

George Forbes and his medals
Text and photos by Jerry Pickard

American Legion Starr Sutherland Jr. Post 227 meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm with a social gathering. The meeting starts at 7:00pm.

They have a Veteran Guest Speaker at each meeting. The October Guest Speaker was Mr. George Forbes.

Mr. Forbes grew up in Scotland. In 1942 at age 16 he joined the British Merchant Marine, controlled by the British Admiralty. He was assigned to convoy duty in the North Sea hauling heavy equipment, supplies and ammunition to allied forces.

While taking ammunition and supplies to Russia, his ship was attacked by the Germans while off the coast of Norway. Fortunately Russian aircraft arrived and drove the Germans away.

Challenge coin
Mr. Forbes' ship spent six days and nights in a Russian port unloading the ship and loading equipment for the return trip. As they were loading, his Captain requested ammunition to defend themselves on the return trip but the Russians refused the request. The Captain of another British ship sent them enough ammunition to return home.

Upon returning to Great Britain they were assigned to haul heavy equipment and ammunition to North Africa as their ship had a crane that could handle heavy loads. They went to Malta and waited for a convoy to be assembled. From there they went to Libya, Casablanca, and several other North African ports.

Maj Gen Coffee presents a Challenge Coin to George. 

They next went to Italy where they delivered ammunition and supplies for the allied invasion. Mr. Forbes served until the end of the war in 1945. He was awarded four British and two Russian medals for his service.

After Mr. Forbes finished speaking, Maj Gen Raymond Coffee USVR presented a Challenge Coin to him. Challenge Coins are exchanged by service members to show honor or respect for outstanding service.


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