"Battlin" Pete


The military service patch of the United States Merchant Marine was created by the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California in July 1944. The Walt Disney Studios had become world renowned for their designs for military units of the United States Armed Forces.

On July 5, 1944, The United Seamen's Service, Inc. of Los Angeles, California, requested the Walt Disney studios to produce a patch for the Merchant Marine. An exhibition of wartime art of merchant seamen of the United Nations was scheduled at the Los Angeles County Museum from July 16 to August 13, 1944. In connection with this exhibition, The United Seamen's Service, Inc. wanted to display this new Merchant Marine patch art at a public ceremony on Sunday, July 23, 1944.

True to his commitment to the Armed Services, Mr. Walt Disney directed his artists to create a patch for the United States Merchant Marine, recognizing their efforts in the conduct of World War II. Using one of their colorful characters, Battlin' Pete, the patch was created showing Pete knocking out a humanized torpedo. The finished artwork was mailed on July 14, 1944. The actual artist is unknown as 5-6 artists did the bulk of the insignias for the Walt Disney studios.

The patch was produced in a 5" diameter size, different from the many shoulder patches created for the other armed forces units, which were usually 2 1/2" in diameter. The Merchant Marine patch was usually worn on the front of jackets or blouses. The United States Merchant Marine now had the distinction of its own Walt Disney Service Patch.

At the same time, the official Merchant Marine service song was written at the United States Maritime Service Training Center, Sheepshead Bay, New York.

The song, Heave Ho, was written by Jack Lawrence, one of the musicians in the base band. The song ends, "We can cross any ocean, sail any river, give us the goods and we'll deliver, damn the submarine, we're the men of the Merchant Marine."

The Walt Disney service patch and the Merchant Marine service song help tell part of the story of life at sea, the merchant marine defying the elements, and the actions of the enemy. Both remain a part of our country's proud military past and a memory of a merchant marine fleet that will never be seen again.

This is a 1st Day cover created by the Walt Disney Studios just after the war ended in 1946.

We shall also never see such a group of merchant seamen who sailed the Liberty Fleet in World War II. Often sailing with the merchant crews were 180,000 U.S. Navy Armed Guard.

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