Roderick MacDonald Smith, 2nd Mate, died in WWII on the Caledonian Monarch on 14/1/1942

Hi Mac,

I hope you can help me. I found a picture of my grandfather Roderick MacDonald Smith, 2nd Mate, who died in WWII on the Caledonian Monarch on 14/1/1942.

I am trying to find some references for the badge that he is wearing on his cap. I have looked around the net a bit and it doesn't seem to be the standard merchant marine badge, but then I am not sure when the picture was taken.

Roderick MacDonald Smith

Any info you could give me would be much appreciated.

Best wishes
Craig Smith


The cap badge worn by your Grandfather is certainly not the normal Merchant Navy one, I am wondering if the shipping line that owned Caledonian Monarch had their own distinctive badge for their officers.

I will try some research in that area and be back to you.

Meantime in case you do not have this record, here is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Site entry for Roderick:

     No Surname Rank Service Number Date Of Death Age Regiment/Service
Nationality Grave/Memorial Ref. Cemetery/Memorial Name
     1  SMITH, RODERICK MACDONALD  Second Officer   14/01/1942  Unknown
Canadian Merchant Navy Canadian Panel 20. HALIFAX MEMORIAL


You will note he is listed on the Halifax Memorial at Panel 20.

     In memory of
     Second Officer
     who died on January 14, 1942

     This date may be wrong. Mac.

     Military Service:
       Force: Merchant Navy
       Unit: Canadian Merchant Navy
       Division: S.S. Caledonian Monarch (Glasgow, Scotland)
     Additional Information:
     Commemorated on Page 230 of the
     Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance.


     Burial Information:
     Nova Scotia,Canada

     Grave Reference: Panel 20.

Location:The HALIFAX MEMORIAL in Nova Scotia's capital, erected in
Point Pleasant Park, is one of the few tangible reminders of the men who
died at sea. Twenty-four ships were lost by the Royal Canadian Navy in the
Second World War and nearly 2,000 members of the RCN lost their lives.

This Memorial was erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
and was unveiled in November 1967 with naval ceremony by H.P. MacKeen,
Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, in the presence of R. Teillet, then
Minister of Veterans Affairs.

The monument is a great granite Cross of Sacrifice over 12 metres
high, clearly visible to all ships approaching Halifax. The cross is
on a large podium bearing 23 bronze panels upon which are inscribed the
names of over 3,000 Canadian men and women who were buried at sea.

     The dedicatory inscription, in French and English, reads as follows:

     1914 1939
     1918 1945

On June 19, 2003, the Government of Canada designated September 3rd of
each year as a day to acknowledge the contribution of Merchant Navy

 It was U-588 that sank his ship, and some details of her are listed here:

     Operations information for U-588
     08.01.1942 - 30.01.1942
     First Sailing - active patrol
 U-588 left Kiel under the command of Victor Vogel on 8th Jan 1942 and
arrived at Lorient on 30th Jan 1942 after just over three weeks.
 Victor Vogel hit one ship on this patrol from convoy SC-63.
 a.. On 22nd Jan 1942 he sank the British 5,851 ton Caledonian
Monarch, sailing with convoy SC-63.

    Type VIIC

     Laid down 31 Oct, 1940 Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
     Commissioned 18 Sep, 1941 Kptlt. Viktor Vogel
     Commanders 18 Sep, 1941 - 31 Jul, 1942   Kptlt. Victor Vogel

     Career 4 patrols 18 Sep, 1941 - 1 Jan, 1942  6. Flottille (training)
     1 Jan, 1942 - 31 Jul, 1942  6. Flottille (front boat)

     Successes 7 ships sunk for a total of 31.492 GRT
     1 ship damaged for a total of 7.460 GRT
     Fate Sunk 31 July, 1942 in the North Atlantic, in position 49.59N,
36.36W, by depth charges from the Canadian corvette HMCS Wetaskiwin and the
Canadian destroyer HMCS Skeena. 46 dead (all hands lost).

You can see it was Canadians who sank her, with all her crew lost, some
small compensation for the sinking of Caledonian Monarch.

The ship:

Did you see this discussion from my AHOY Forum?

Caledonian Monarch, 5,851grt, (Raeburn & Verel Ltd. Monarch SS C0. Ltd) had
loaded a cargo of wheat in Halifax, Nova Scotia and joined up with the
homeward bound 27 ship Convoy SC-63 which left Sydney, Cape Breton on the
3rd January 1942. During the crossing the Convoy was forced to disperse on
the 9th January due severe bad weather in position 54' 00N 42' 22W. The
Caledonian Monarch had been struggling to keep up with the Convoy and was
last reported on the 7th January. After that she was never seen again. The
ship was officially reported missing/untraced on the 25th February 1942. A
Joint Arbitration Committee considered her loss to be 80% War Loss, 20%
Marine Loss. A Missing Ship Committee considered her lost 14th Janaury

Even German records are not 100% clear on the loss. First it was thought
that this ship was sunk by U-333 at 13.15 hours on the 18th January in
position 47' 30N 40' 30W. U-333 reported sinking a steamer of 8,000 tons.
But according to Lloyds it is inconceivable that the Caledonian Monarch
would have been in the same position as the U-boat. So the victim of U-333
if any, is still unidentified.

The second possibility was at 04.11 hours on 22nd January, U-588 torpedoed a
steamer of 6,000 tons and sank her by coup de grace after 35 minutes along
the approaches to Loch Ewe via the Minch. Assuming that the Caledonian
Monarch had not been lost and had continued to Loch Ewe, she could have
crossed U-588´s path. What ever the truth maybe, Captain Stewart and all 40
crew perished.

Caledonian Monarch, on a voyage from Rosario (Nov. 24-1941) for Loch Ewe
and London with 8075 tons of wheat, and last reported on Jan. 7-1942, is
believed to have been torpedoed and sunk on Jan. 22 by U-588. She had a
crew of 48 - there were no survivors.

Best wishes.


Hi Mac,

Thank you very much for your assistance in this.

I did indeed find the Commonwealth War Graves information and that he is mentioned on panel 20 at Nova Scotia.  I found your web site by searching on google for information on the Caledonian Monarch and it led
me to that discussion on your pages.

I uploaded some pictures to the war graves site that I have of him as well as the letter from the King informing my grandmother of his passing.  We still have the original envelope. It must have been horrible for her to get.

My father is dead as well so this is a bit hard to track this stuff down. We originally thought that my grandfather was Scottish because that is where he is from. During the war my grandmother and father (2 at the time) moved to Canada. Do you know in those times whether people had passports and how they defined their citizenship? I was wondering if he changed citizenship before or after my grandmother moved to Canada or whether he gave his address as Canada and that is how his citizenship was defined. I guess i need to do a bit more genealogy research to properly figure this out.

I hope something comes from your further enquiries and I really appreciate your help.

Best wishes
Craig Smith

Roderick MacDonald Smith

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