Letter: Enemy aliens

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In your obituary of Ernest Zobole (7 December) you state that in July 1940 the Arandora Star was "a boat in which hundreds of `enemy aliens' were being deported back to Italy".

On 1 July 1940 the Arandora Star, a transatlantic liner of the Blue Star Line, left Liverpool for Canada.

From records available, there were 374 British military personnel on board with 174 members of the crew, and 1,190 civilians of whom 712 were Italians, and 478 Germans, many of whom were of Jewish origin.

On 2 July the liner was sunk by a German submarine; of the 712 Italians 236 survived, one of whom was my late father. After many hours on a raft in the Atlantic he was picked up by a Canadian frigate, the Gloworm.

Many of these so-called "enemy aliens" were prominent members of industry in the UK, and had taken residence here in the early 1900s, and had little political affiliation.

With the Germans in Calais the atmosphere at that time was of panic, and anyone who had a foreign accent was under suspicion.

Being British born I completed my military service in HM Parachute Regiment.


London W8