Granville Conway

Granville Conway

Captain Granville Conway was born 1898 in Cambridge, Md.

Early life

In 1906 his father, Captain Edward Conway, was injured, swept off his schooner and lost in a storm near Baltimore, Maryland. The son entered the American Merchant Marine in 1916. He became an experienced pilot in Chesapeake waters and was made a Captain of the Shipping Board's Reserve Fleet Division at Norfolk, Va, in 1921. The Captain served as manager for the Shipping Board in New London, Connecticut, and for the Staten Island Sound Fleet -- 135 laid-up vessels of World War I vintage -- at Prall's Island. During this period he outfitted and delivered ships for explorer Richard E. Byrd's trip to the North Pole in 1926 and the South Pole in 1933. In 1935 he became North Atlantic District Head of the Shipping Board, responsible for the Port of New York. He continued with the Maritime Commission and then the War Shipping Administration. He was named head of the War Shipping Administration in 1946.

World War II

In World War II the captain earned much of the credit for the record speed achieved in transporting men and materiel to the European Theater of operations. Working as a volunteer during WWII, he managed the shipping of all Red Cross supplies to Europe (at no cost to the organization). He himself devised a tanker deck for shipping planes without taking up other cargo space. He was responsible for secretly gathering the available ships from around the world to transport the men and machinery for the D-Day invasion. A warm, outgoing man, he was instrumental in averting strikes by seamen's unions.

Throughout the war Captain Conway was the Shipping Counselor at the White House and for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He resigned from the War Shipping Administration in the summer of 1947 to head the Cosmopolitan Shipping Company.

Civilian life

At the request of President Harry S. Truman he served from 1946 to 1948 as coordinator of the Emergency Export Program. He shipped millions of tons of coal, grain and relief supplies in the midst of one of Europe’s worst winters and, in the words of Secretary of State Dean Acheson “his actions prevented mass starvation in many areas and certainly enhanced our position as a great humanitarian nation.”

In 1947 he was asked by President Truman to serve on a committee of 19 private citizens headed by W. Averell Harriman, Secretary of Commerce. The Harriman Committee analyzed the aid needs for Europe and made the specific policy recommendations which became the Marshall Plan. Captain Conway headed the Transportation Committee.

From 1948 to 1950 he also served as Director of the Transportation Office of the National Security Resources Board.

In 1956, at the request of the Grace National Bank and the U.S. Department of Justice, he became President of Victory Carriers, Inc. and United States Petroleum Carriers, Inc. These companies owned and controlled the U.S. shipping interests of Aristotle Onassis, in trust for his two American-born children, Alexander and Christina. Under the settlement terms of a questionable criminal and civil suit brought by the United States for the "illegal" purchase by an alien of U.S. WWII ships, Onassis was required to transfer full operating control and ownership of his fleet to U.S. citizens.

At the time of Captain Conway's death in September, 1969 he was President of the Cosmopolitan Shipping Company and the Home Lines Agency and Chairman of Commercial Tankers of Liberia. Cosmopolitan owned and operated oil tankers and were agents for a number of steamship companies including the passenger ship owner and operater, Home Lines.


In addition to his Merchant Marine and war decorations, he was awarded the Order of Olav, Knight 1st Class by the Norwegian Government, the Officer, Legion of Honour from France, the Officer, Order of Leopold I, Military from Belgium, the Commander of Orange Nassau from the Netherlands, the Commander of the British Empire and the U.S. Presidential Medal for Merit.

The Medal for Merit, the highest ranking civilian award at the time of war, was signed by President Truman on July 16, 1947 and awarded on his behalf by Conway’s good friend, Navy Under Secretary W. John Kenney in a ceremony at the Navy Building in Washington, D.C. on November 3, 1947. The Citation which accompanied the Medal for Merit stated:

"GRANVILLE CONWAY, for exceptionally meritorious Conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the United States throughout the period of the recent war. Mr. Conway, who served successively as Atlantic Coast Director, Deputy Administrator, and Administrator of the United States War Shipping Administration, and as Special Expert and Special Assistant to the United States Maritime Commission, as Shipping Advisor to the President at the Yalta Conference and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Quebec Conference, was singularly outstanding in the accomplishment of the movement of millions of tons of military cargo and millions of military personnel in vessels of the Merchant Marine. His sound judgment in cooperation with the Army and Navy Transportation services in the Allocation of available ocean shipping to the multitude of tasks facing the country both for military purposes and for the war-making capacity of the United States will always stand out in transportation history. Further, his knowledge of merchant ship capabilities and characteristics, ship operations and shipping control proved invaluable in the successful accomplishment of ocean transportation. He also rendered immeasurable assistance in the expeditious demobilization of the Army and Navy by promptly making ships available for an enormous troop lift in all theaters, thus utilizing all merchant ships to the maximum of their capabilities. In these accomplishments, Mr. Conway contributed to a most successful and outstanding transportation operation with a spirit of loyalty which is in keeping with the highest traditions of American citizenship."


"THE WHITE HOUSE""July 16, 1947."

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