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MAUD THORDÉN mutiny 1939

TimoSylvänne's picture

Courtesy: Joel Dinda

News accounts generally reported the number of mutinous crewmen as 14, not 19; the ship carried 14 sailors and 6 officers.

Contraband, to some extent, is in the eyes of the beholder. It's important to recall that World War II had just been launched when Mr. Borucki took this photo. The crew members were concerned that the newly-warring parties (particularly Britain) might seize the Sweden-bound ship, its cargo, and its crew. They were also concerned about mines in the North Sea. The Finnish Counsel agreed that the cargo was risky, and intervened in their favor. They were granted 60-day visas, and hoped to find work on a Caribbean-bound vessel.


copyright: Joel Dinda

Captain Armas Engstrom was able to recruit a mostly-American crew in Detroit and Cleveland, retaining two mutineers who had returned to the ship. (Some of the press coverage mentions $1000 bonuses, and Mr. Borucki hints at them.) The ship cleared the Welland Canal on September 29.

Maud Thorden would again appear in American news accounts the next summer, as she carried Red Cross supplies to Finland in June. In August she'd join her sister ship, Marisa Thorden, to carry refugees from Europe to New York City. While the press treated these as fully separate events, Captain Engstrom seems to have been a brave man.

This ship was built in 1921 as Older, then renamed Maud Thorden when she joined the Thorden fleet in 1935. She had several other names after being sold in 1955, and was scrapped in 1961. Still under a Finnish flag and evidently out of Thorden control, she'd been seized by the Allies in 1944, but was returned to her owners after the war.

The Thorden fleet's ships mostly had names which looked like this--a woman's name followed by Thorden--but that seems to have been a naming convention and they evidently didn't honor specific women. Gustaf B. Thorden was born in Sweden, but built his business in Helsinki; he'd retreat to Sweden in 1944 when it appeared that the USSR would dominate postwar Finland. He remained in Sweden until his death in 1963.

Most of Hastings Street was urban-renewed out of existence; the Chrysler Freeway has largely swallowed it up. This location was likely in the current RenCen parking lot.

Read the Milwaukee Journal September 21, 1939 (browse down left side "Americans Take Risk)

My father told in his memoirs that he sailed on ship called "Marisa Thorden" to USA before II world war, and escaped from ship in USA to seek his fortune there (which he did not found and made his way back to Finland to fight in WWII in Finnish Navy). It´s interesting that here is no sign of "Marisa" Thorden but other Thordens. Could this be a misspelling?