John Remembers The Crew Of The MV Magdala on VE Day

MV magdala_1931_1945

I served as radio officer on two Dutch ships during the Second World War.  The first of these, the New Holland was a large Dutch liner, previously registered in Indonesia but during the war was partly manned by Dutchmen and served the allies as a troopship.  The second was a petrol tanker Magdala, owned by Anglo-Saxon Petroleum and employed in carrying high octane aviation spirit on the North Atlantic convoys between New Jersey and Glasgow.  I had by now been promoted to second sparks. Both ships had a small handful of British sailors to make up the crew.


Most of the Dutchmen’s families were in German occupied Holland.   One of the crew had a wind-up portable HMV record player and it was in great demand.  Their great generosity introduced me to classical music.  Friendships were formed, and I became aware that they lived mostly for the day when we would have victory in Europe and they would return home. From the conversations I became closely aware of their intense feeling about their family lives and their desperate longing for an early victory in Europe.

Subsequently finding myself hospitalised after a particularly arduous convoy fringing the arctic I discovered on my discharge that the Magdala had sailed without me. It was some time after VE Day that I discovered that the ship had been sunk with all hands.


  1. Katy

    My great Grandad served on this ship and when it was torpedoed, he managed to survive and was picked up and taken to Texas.
    I’d be interested to know more about MV Magdala if you’re able to help, as I’m struggling to find information online

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