Thursday, January 8, 2015 John Riddell Findlay (1921-1993)

John Riddell Findlay was born on 14 October 1921 at the family home at 31 Main Street in East Kilbride. His parents were John and Susan (Dundas) Findlay. He was their second child.

John Riddell became a merchant seaman during World War II about 1937. When the war started, he remained a merchant seaman performing convoy duties. His service number was R171701. During the war, he served on at least two ships. The S/S Katha arrived in New York on January 1943 from Trinidad and Tobago. John was a 3rd mate and had joined the ship in Hull, England, on 13 June 1941.

John was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. He had a scar on his left knee. Four months after arriving in New York, the S/S Katha was torpedoed and sunk 320 nautical miles west of Oporto, Portugal, while with Convoy OS 45. There were six casualties and survivors were picked up by the S/S Danby and HMS La Malouine. I am not completely certain John was on board at the time, but he likely was.

S/S Katha

John next appeared in New York with the S/S Fort Brisebois, which arrived 11 October 1944 from the port of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, via St. John's, New Brunswick. He had been promoted to 2nd mate and had joined the ship on 13 September 1944 in South Shields, England. His appearance was described similarly to his last arrival in New York the year before. The ship had been completed in March 1944 by the Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver, British Columbia. After the war its name was changed several times and it was scrapped in 1968.

A record from the Kew National Archives confirmed John Riddell's military service number and that he immigrated to Canada sometime after the war.

He married Edith May Gertrude Aird, whose parents immigrated to Canada in 1911 and settled in Montreal. He and Edith had two children.  His daughter told me that John was a sea captain until 1948 and then worked in the steamship business. In 1968 he started his own company, which dealt with international shipping and cargo. He retired in 1989 and he and Gertrude moved to British Columbia in 1990. His daughter confirmed that John Riddell Findlay died on 13 April 1993 in British Columbia.

Canada, personal knowledge from John Riddell Findlay's daughter
Lloyd's Register of Ships, 1939-1945
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, Extract of an entry from the Register of Births in Scotland 6484458 CE
S/S Katha,
UK, WWII Medals Issued to Merchant Seaman, 1939-1945, 1941, Findlay, John Riddell, R171701
US, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Year: 1943, Findlay, John Riddell
US, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Year: 1944, Findlay, John Riddell

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