Jews in the Merchant Navy in the Second World War

Last Voices

Sugarman, Martin

I would encourage anyone, of any religion (and indeed no religion) to read their stories of service and survival in some of the world's harshest seas.--Commander James Cohen QVRM RD VR RNR, formerly SO1 Maritime Trade Operations ***For those who served in the Merchant Navy in the World War II there has always been some resentment that they were disregarded as the 'forgotten 4th service,' yet the extremely dangerous job they did on the front line was crucial to the war effort. Their slow, vulnerable, and poorly defended vessels were open to attack by land, sea, and air as they carried essential cargoes and troops. Living conditions and weather were frequently appalling, and the pay was poor. Tens of thousands were killed outright or, if their ship was sunk, suffered terribly in open boats where survival rates were low. Aside from officers, for those sailing under 'the red duster' there were no glamorous uniforms, parades, badges, or attachment to historic regiments. Indeed, on leave they were often subject to abuse as 'not being in the forces' since nothing marked them out from civilians until the Merchant Navy lapel badge was created. Jewish participation was out of proportion to their share of the population. Many won awards, some were ships' masters, and the recruits came from all over the Commonwealth and Palestine, the latter being especially obscured. As Jews they were often subjected to racial discrimination from other crewmen. Sugarman details the 'hidden heroism' of these volunteers, their sacrifice, and the service they gave. Nothing has been written about Jews in the Merchant navy until now. This book is a tribute to them. [Subject: Military History, Naval History, Jewish Studies, WWII]


260 pages

Due: 10/16/2017