John William Aul





John William Aul






John William Aul served on the SS Steel Ore from September 42 to May 43, the SS Belgium Gulf from June 43 to Feb 44, the SS James R Randall from April 44 to January 45, the SS James W Cannon from January 45 to February 45 and again on the SS James R Randall from March 45 to September 45. John passed away 27 April 2001. You can contact his son, Tom Aul in Carnegie, Pa. You can email him at mistuhu@hotmail.com



Picture Below: John W. Aul


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This is John's story in his own words:

Date of entry into the U.S.Navy July 15 1942

Served five weeks in Boot camp at Quadington Point New Port,R.I. Naval
Training Station. First assigned to the U.S. Navy Armed Guard Center.
1st. Ave. and 52nd. St. Brooklyn,N.Y. Sent to the Armed Guard Gunnery
School Little Creek, Norfolk Va. After four weeks training sent back to
the Armed Guard Center for assignment on a Merchant Vessel. Sept. 23,
1942 Boarded the S.S. Steelore (20,500) ton) at Weehawkin,N.J. Ship's
Captain Hector, Navy Ensign Basset later relieved by Lt. USNR Andrew
Dillman. Left the port of New York Sept.26, 1942. Arrived in the Port of
Spain Trinidad B.W.I. Returned to Weehawkin N.J. Second trip back to
Trinidad returned to Weehawkin N.J. Third trip down to Trinidad returned
to Weehawkin N.J. Fourth trip from Weehawkin N.J. to Jersey City N.J. to
Norfolk Va.(Cargo of coal) back to N.Y. harbor to join convoy to
Trinidad, docked at Guantanamo,Bay,Cuba (Submarine activity in area)
continued on to Trinidad,returned to Weehawkin N.J. Fifth trip to
Newport News Va. back to New York harbor to join convoy for Trinidad,
returned to Weehawkin N.J. Bauxite was the main cargo ,loaded at the
Shagaramus ore dock,Port of Spain,Trinidad. Detached from ship May 14
1943.

Assigned to the M.V. BELGIAN GULF (14,000 ton) oil tanker,Panamanian
registry,sailed under a Panamanian flag, built in Rotterdam,
Netherlands.Boarded ship June 10,1943 at Bayonne N.J. First trip left
Bayonne N.J. arrived in Liverpool,England to Birkenhead,Eng. returned to
Bayonne. Second trip left Bayonne, N.J. arrived in
Manchester,Eng.(wrecked bow of ship at Birkenhead repairs temporary at
Manchester for the return trip back,put into dry dock at Bayonnne, N.J.)
Third trip left Bayonne N.J. Arrived in Liverpool, Eng. to Manchester,
Eng. Returned to Philadelphia, Pa. to Chester, Pa. All trips to
Manchester were through the Manchester shipping canal. Fourth trip left
Chester, Pa. arrived in Liverpool, Eng. to Manchester, Eng. returned to
Bayonne. Fifth trip left Bayonne,N.J. Arrived Liverpool Eng. to
Manchester, Eng. to Birkenhead, Eng. returned to Bayonne,N.J.

Detached from ship January 19, 1944.(Cargo,crude oil,lubricating oil.
Assigned to the 5"38 Anti Aircraft Gunnery School Shelton, Va. February
12, 1944 finished school March 20 1944 Returned to Armed Guard Center
Brooklyn, N.Y.(Received orders to Escort a deserter back down to the
gunnery school at Shelton, Va.) Returned to the Armed Guard Shipping
pool at the Naval Operating Base Norfolk, Va. Assigned to the JAMES
R. RANDALL (10,000 ton). Ship's Capt.Peters(later relieved by Capt.
Soren- Rasmunsen). Navy officer Lt.jg. J.H.Sullivan. Boarded ship Apr 6,
1944 at Norfolk,Va. Sailed for York to join convoy to Europe, arrived in
Liverpool, Eng., to Manchester, Eng. Went to Oban,Scot. (anchored in the
Firth of Lorn, two weeks waiting orders to ship over to the Normandy
coast of France.) Left Oban for Belfast,Ireland.to take on a cargo of
ammunition, bombs. Docked at Milford Haven,Wales to install smoke
screening device. Docked at Falsmouth, Eng. installed Barrage Balloon,
crossed English channel anchored at the Omaha beach-head Normandy,
France. Returned to Southampton, Eng.(converted ship into a Military
Transport MT 10) Took military personnel and their equipment to the Utah
beach-head. Crossed the English channel sixteen times to the beachheads,
two times up the Seine River to Rouen,France, once to LeHavre, returned
to Southampton. Detached from the Randall here in Southampton, exchanged
gun crews with the James W.Cannon that was tied along side of us. At 1
pm British time Jan 14, 1945, left Southampton Eng. for Cardiff, Wales,
then New York. (two days out into the Irish sea we encountered the worst
storm of all the crossings. Detached from the JAMES W. CANNON (ll,OOO
ton Victory Ship) named after the Cannon Towel Co. in New York.

Reassigned to the James R. Randall (one chance in the thousands of ships
available to get on again.)  On this assignment I was put in charge of a
skeleton crew of nine men. Boarded ship again March 28, 1945 Went to
Philidelphia, Pa. sailed for Bristol, Eng. Went Through the Dover
Straits to  Ghent, Belgium, returned to New York. Left N.Y. for Houston
Tex. (cargo of cotton ) sailed again to LeHavre,France, back to
Boulogne, France, back to N.Y. ENDING MY SEA DUTY SEPT 20 1945. Crossed
the Atlantic to Europe eight times, returned Eight times, crossed the
English Channel Sixteen times to the OMAHA AND UTAH Beach-heads on the
Normandy Coast of FRANCE. Sailed the Caribbean Sea five times to
Trinidad, B.W.I. Discharged at the Naval Operating Base in Philidelphia,
Pa, NOV. 2 1945


                                                                       :

                       THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
                       ABOARD THE JAMES R. RANDALL

      T'was the night before Christmas and all through the ship
      The holiday spirit had taken a dip
      Our stockings filthy from over long wear
      Stood without hanging straight up in the air
      And our G.I. long Johns would have done the same
      Could we ever have gotten them off our frame

      The Red Cross in hold #3 and G.I.'s in hold #4
      Were hearlding Christmas with a discondant snore
      When out on the deck there arose such a clatter
      We jumped from our bunks and sprang for the ladder
      The moon on remnants of C-Ration cans junk
      Created a picture that glittered and stunk 
      And what to our wondering eyes should appear
      But the beat up old boom and the dock still here
      And we knew from the look of the warf we tied on
      That it was'nt La France but Old Southamp-Ton
 
      Then more rapid than seagulls new shipmates(rats)did appear
      As we bellow with horror and quiver with fear
      Some come from the fore deck and some from aft
      And others on shore leave came in on a raft
      From the top of the mast,from the depth of the hold
      Came rodents came vermine came rats young and old

      And then who should appear to help out in the fun
      But old Sad-Sack Santa Pvt. Stevenson
      You all want to know what is hid around his middle
      So two stripes for the guy who can answer this riddle

 

                               CASE OF THE G.I.

                    I go to sleep in a G.I. bed
                    On a G.I. pillow I rest my head
                    My blankets they are G.I. too
                    Then G.I. sleep and think of you
                    A G.I. bugler wakes me up
                    I drink G.I. coffee in a G.I. cup
                    The powdered eggs are G.I. too
                    But G.I. wish I were with you
                    At night my G.I. prayers I' ll say
                    We'll have our G.I. peace some day
                    And when this darn war is through 
                    This G.I. will return to you
                    Now G.I. stands for Government Issue
                    But my darling G.I.miss you
                    G.I. hope you miss me too
                    For Gi I love you, Gi I do.


  In this year of 19 hundred and 45
  It makes a fellow feel alive
  To know that he is going home
  To which I dedicate this poem

  In April nineteen fourty-four
  We sailed out of Norfolk's door
  Then two more days,don't know the date
  We stopped a while in New York State.

  Two weeks,or something more of the sort
  We hit a town called Ellesmere Port
  We liked the place and the time was night
  No guards were around,so into our plight
  We all jumped ship caused a houmourous sight
  Nothing would happen was our prediction
  But no results one weeks restrictions
  We traveled the canal and in through the locks
  To a city named Manchester, at Salford docks
  With wine ,whiskey,beer and gin
  No such a town have you ever been in
  If I had more time I certainly would write
  Of the times we had at this very site
  And then one morning to our utter dismay
  We found we were leaving the very next day

  From there up the old Mersey River we ran
  To a firth in Ole' Scotland on the shores of Oban
  A prettier place now you never will see
  But the bad with the good -- no liberty
  For nearly two weeks we had nothing to do
  Just watching the scenery and singing the blues
  Till one bright morning we heard the good news
  Which heightened our spirits and chased away our blues

  Then one evening in June-orders at last
  We sailed out of the harbor and on to Belfast
  They loaded us there with hot soup and stuff 
  And when they decided we had enough
  WE whistled for tugs and without backward glance
  We pulled up our anchor and high-tailed it for France

  After one of the trips,the sixth I think
  Our Captain got a little too much to drink
  He brought, out his gun as the story goes
  While the 1st Mate took hold of the nearest Fire hose
  A sure enough battle did then ensue
  To the utter enjoyment of the whole damn crew
  The police came out but not before
  The Skipper had shot up the  Purser's door

   Our home port Southampton a town you should know
   A place where we always would just come and go
   The Pubs were just open from seven to ten
   Then back to the ship we would wander again
   And sometimes I think how awful it sounds
   For a fellow to tell you that whiskey is five pounds
   If you want my opinion but can't ever tell
   The only worse place than Southampton is hell

   The trips to the beacheads are something to remember
   WE started in June and wound up in December
   Then one of our trips amid torrents of rain
   We traveled the beautiful Rue de La Seine
   If any asks you just what you were doing
   You were wading through mud on the sidewalks of Rouen

   Our last trip to France was to ancient Le Havre
   Where cognac and colvadose were all free of charge
   On this last trip was much yellin and shooting
   Old Taylor he got out his old forty-five
   And when he do that, watch out man-alive
   He shot big Bill Burrel right through the belly
   And his blood ran out like red raspberry jelly
   They lowered Bill over and sent for the Doc.
   And took Taylor away to start pounding rock

   One day when we docked with mornings high tide
   Along comes a ship and ties up to our side
   Nothing else happened till the next day we heard
   That our whole darn crew was being transferred
   The happiest moment occoured when we abandoned
   The James Rammin Randall for the James W. Cannon.
   Now when you get home and start drinking the toasts
   Remember the invasion of the French coast
   The trip is now over and we're all headed home
   Even if this is one hell of a poem

Picture Below: Adams, Aul, Baker, Barrett, Barr, Dawson


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Picture Below: John Aul, Joe Splendori, John Barrett, Bob (Pop) Baker


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Picture Below: SS Steel Ore - Trinidad, B.W.I.


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Picture Below: SS Steel Ore - Abandon Ship Drill


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Picture Below: SS Steel Ore - Fire and Boat Drill


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Picture Below: SS Steel Ore - 13,000 tons bauxite ore


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Picture Below: Lt Dillman and girl in Trinidad


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Picture Below: Lt Dillman and Native worker


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Picture Below:Lt Dillman, Splendoria, with Queen Mary Orchid


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Picture Below: SS Belgium Gulf - Holtzner


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Picture Below: SS Belgium Gulf - Hennessey, Wise, and Holtzner


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Picture Below:Hennessey, Wise and Holtzner


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Picture Below: Wise


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Picture Below: Top: Beaulier, Barbato, Barrett, Beseres, Adams, Dillman and Bottom: Barr, Dawson, Aul, Baker


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Picture Below: Convoy in Caribbean


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Picture Below: SS Belgium Gulf - Holtzner, Wise and Hennessey


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Picture Below: Hawes, Holtzner


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Picture Below: Wise, Hennessey


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Picture Below: Hennessey, Wise


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Picture Below: Belgium Gulf - 3"50 - Wise


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Picture Below: Holtzner and Hennessey in Liverpool, England


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Picture Below: Barry, South Wales Pass


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Picture Below: Article about Lt Dillman's surgery


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Obituary: John W. Aul / Protector of U.S. shipping in WWII
Friday, April 27, 2001

By Jack Kelly, Post-Gazette National Bureau

John W. Aul, who survived eight trans-Atlantic crossings as a member of a 
little known Navy unit during World War II, died Tuesday at the age of 80.

Mr. Aul, a Whitehall resident, had been battling lung cancer for more than 
a year.

For many years a pipefitter at Westinghouse Atomic Power Laboratories, Mr. Aul
served with the Navy's Armed Guard in World War II. The unit's mission was to
protect the ships of the U.S. Merchant Marine from aircraft and submarines. The
ships were outfitted with defensive weapons, and Armed Guards manned the guns.

A native of Mount Oliver, Mr. Aul dropped out of school in the eighth grade and
went to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps, helping to rehabilitate a 
national forest in Virginia that was suffering the effects of a widespread 
chestnut blight.

He enlisted in the Navy on July 15, 1942. After attending gunnery school in
Norfolk, Va., he began his shipboard duties that September and served until
Sept. 20, 1945. In addition to his trans-Atlantic trips, he made five voyages 
to the Caribbean and 16 trips across the English Channel to deliver troops and
equipment to the Omaha and Utah beachheads in Normandy.

Much of his service was in Liberty Ships, more than 2,700 of which were built
during WWII. Most were built in less than two months. They carried two-thirds of
all the cargo shipped from the United States during the war.

All cut from the same mold, Liberty Ships were 441 feet, 6 inches long, with a
beam of 56 feet 103/4 inches. A Liberty Ship could carry about 9,000 tons of
cargo or 500 troops.

A typical crew was that of the John Brown, one of two surviving Liberty Ships.
The Brown had a crew of 45 merchant seamen, with 41 Navy personnel to man
the guns. The John Brown now is a maritime museum anchored in Baltimore. A 
volunteer crew conducts orientation cruises from various East Coast and Great 
Lakes ports on occasion. Four of Mr. Aul's sons accompanied him on one such 
cruise from Erie last summer. It was the first time Mr. Aul had been on a 
Liberty Ship since his discharge.

"Dad took us to the 5-inch gun in the stern," his son Thomas recalled. "Manning
that gun had been his job during the war."

The typical armament of a Liberty Ship was a 3-inch gun in the bow and a 5-inch
gun in the stern, and several anti-aircraft guns. The 3-inch gun and the 
5-inch gun were used to fight off submarines if they surfaced to attack the 
merchant vessels. More than 200 Liberty Ships were sunk during the war, but 
Mr. Aul completed his service without experiencing combat. Mr. Aul's closest 
brush with death came during a violent storm in the Irish Sea in January 1945.

He also served aboard ore ships that brought bauxite from the Caribbean to the
United States, where it was used to manufacture aluminum for the frames of
fighters and bombers.

Mr. Aul is survived by his wife, Theresa; five sons, Raymond J. of Whitehall,
Thomas J. of Carnegie, Regis J. of Mt. Lebanon, Donald J. West View and Jack
J. of Baldwin; a daughter, Mary J. of Whitehall; a brother, George of 
Brookline; 25 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. today in St. Basil Church, 1735 Brownsville
Road.

Copyright  1997-2001 PG Publishing. All rights reserved.

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