Robert Lee Acord
Navy S2c Robert Lee Acord of Ravencliff, Wyoming County, West Virginia, was only 18 years old when he died. At the time of his death, he was an Armed Guard on the SS West Lashaway. On August 30, 1942, the ship, located about 375 miles east of Trinidad, was hit by two torpedoes from a German U-boat and sank quickly. Forty-two survivors of the explosions gathered on four rafts, but only eighteen of the number were rescued in the following month. Robert Acord, known as Lee, was among those who boarded one of the rafts but was not recovered. None of the other eight Armed Guards aboard the ship survived.
The U.S. Navy organized the Armed Guard in October 1941 to provide gun crews for duty aboard the country’s merchant ships. The first Armed Guard recruits trained for three weeks in Virginia and sailed in November 1941, when Congress repealed the Neutrality Act and placed guns aboard merchant ships.
By war’s end, over 144,900 men served on over 6,236 American and Allied ships. About 2,085 Armed Guard crew members died in defense of their country, and at least 1,127 were wounded as a result of enemy action. (U.S. Naval Armed Guard Casualties During World War II, http://www.usmm.org/armedguard.html, cited April 15, 2010).
Robert Lee Acord was one of 622 Naval Armed Guard casualties in 1942. Along with many of his countrymen whose remains were never recovered, he is memorialized on a well known monument in Battery Park, New York City.
Navy S2c Acord was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Everett Acord. According to an article written on Armed Guard William Louis Britt, Acord’s date of birth was April 11, 1924 (Tom Conrad, “William Louis Britt”, http:www.williamlouisbritt.com/ cited May 17, 2010).
Patricia Richards McClure contributed to this biography.
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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