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