The Capture and Subsequent Death of Captain Angus MacLennan

Here is a photo of Captain Angus MacLennan of the steamer "Aloe" which was sunk on 5 April 1943.  This photo was provided by great-niece Audrey Paterson who wrote to me after finding this site. 

Audrey writes:

"My great uncle Angus MacLennan was Master of the 'Aloe' and a crewman later wrote to the family to tell them that when she was sunk by U182, the Master and First Engineer of the 'Aloe' were taken aboard the U-boat and the rest of the crew took to the lifeboats - they were subsequently rescued by allied shipping."


"Angus had married a Miss MacKenzie in South Africa in his 50s but unfortunately, she died in childbirth along with her baby daughter.  His family had come from the island of Fladda, off Raasay, and he was a native speaker of Scottish Gaelic.  His father, Norman MacLennan, was also a merchant seaman and spent a considerable part of his life as a yachtsman for the families who owned Raasay House.  Angus apparently began his seafaring career working with his father."

However, I have since been contacted by a Mr. Billy McGhee who provided proof that the First Engineer of the "Aloe" was not taken onboard the U-boat.  

The only crewman captured by Clausen was the Captain of the "Aloe" Angus MacLennan.  

Mr. McGhee provided two documents to make his case.  The first was a letter from a survivor of the "Aloe" written directly to Captain MacLennan's sister.  

It states:

c/o S.A.R. & H. Shipping Office,
National Mutual Buildings,
Smith Street,
15th February, 1946

Dear Mrs. A. MacLeod,

Received your letter upon our arrival back in
Durban, regards Angus.  Well on the afternoon of the
fifth of April, 1943 we were struck by torpedo at 2:30pm
and of course there was the usual confusion, but by good
luck we all escaped into the lifeboat, Angus being the
last to leave the Aloe.  While coming aboard he
slipped and hurt his back.  By this time the sub had
fired a second torpedo, which fairly cut the old ship
in two and disappearing in a few minutes.  After that the
sub Commander commanded us to come alongside and demanded
to know where the Captain was, so there was nothing else
for it, but to obey as we were covered by tommy guns.
So he went aboard the sub, searched on deck and the ordered
up to the conning tower, he being sent below and that was
the last we saw of him.

The sub was one of the newest and largest type
with the name "Vestvart Ho - Deutchland".  We being more
fortunate being picked up four days later by an American
ship, 400 miles south-east of Durban.

We brought ashore with us in the life-boat his
most valued effects, ships papers and other articles,
they were deposited with the shipping manager at S.A.R.& H.
Of course his estate will amount to a fairly large figure,
as far as I know they are held by the bank in Durban.
But as regards his death, we cannot say as nothing has
been heard of him since, so it is up to the Master of the
Supreme court to get the certificate which our shipping
agent in Durban, Mr. Moran, was getting things moving before
his retirement.  So I should say that any further comm-
unications you write to the General Manager, Brigadier
General Hoffe, who would be the deciding factor.  There
are also two Captains of the Society of Master Mariners
in Durban, namely George Lindsay and Andrew Reid, harbour
pilots who are looking after his interests from the sea-
faring side.

I have also said that there was two things he
always spoke of, and that was his wife's grave kept as it
was when he was alive and his sister in Canada.  However,
what is revealed in his papers when they are inspected, I can-
not say.  So hoping this will meet with your request.
Kindest regards.

Yours truly,

Peter C. McMurchy
1st Engineer
SS Dalia

Additionally, Mr. McGhee provided an image of this letter from the Ministry of Transport to Mrs. MacLeod regarding the death of her brother, Angus MacLennan. 

Ministry of Transport
Berkely Square House
London, W.I.

Our reference M.3167/47


I am directed to state that your letter of 24th,
February, addressed to the Admiralty about the death of
your brother, Capt. Angus MacLennan, has now been forwarded to
this department for reply.

The Admiralty have also stated that an examination of-
German documents has provided evidence that the
S.S. "ALOE" was sunk on 5th April, 1943 by the German U-boat,
U-182, and the Master of the "Aloe" was taken on board the
U-boat, which was homeward bound.  This U-boat however, was sunk
on 15 May, 1943 in position 33 55'N, 2005 W, and there were
no survivors.

This information has also been sent to the High Commissioner
for South Africa.

Yours Faithfully,

(illegible signature)

Mrs. Alexander MacLeod
P.O. Box 10
Tofino, Vancouver Island, B.C.

Mr. McGhee spent 3 years trying to get Captain MacLennan's death certified by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission so that he could be added to the Casualty list.  He was ultimately successful in his efforts, writing: 

"You may also be interested to know. After three years of compiling documents and submitting to the CWGC, he has finally been accepted and his name is now officially recognized and will be added to the addenda section on Tower Hill."

A certificate is available honoring Captain MacLennan.

Finally, one of my correspondents obtained a copy of the U-182's war diary, as written by the German operations staff.  

According to these records, the "Aloe" was carrying a cargo of wheat (5000 tons), wood (5000 tons), lead (350 tons) and mail.

Return to the U-182 Page

Return to the USS MacKenzie Page

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