AN ELLON veteran has shared his wartime photography with the world for the first time, a month after the 68th anniversary of the conclusion of World War 2.
Jim Magee, who stays at Castle Park, served in the Merchant Navy prior to the war and was drafted into the Royal Navy when hostilities commenced. Serving as a petty officer onboard the aircraft carrier HMS Striker, Jim accompanied flotillas bringing vital war materiel to the USSR as part of the Allied war effort to win the war in the East. Strafed by the Luftwaffe, and dodging mines, the flotillas performed their duties with horrendous loss of life, particularly among the airmen flying from the carriers.
“We set out with 32 pilots - all around 20-21 years old - and returned with two”, Jim told the Times. “They were the best of men, the salt of the earth, and they took horrendous casualties. It was a difficult thing to do, landing on an aircraft carrier. You were stopped by a cable and if you missed the cable, you went into the sea.
“We were part of a flotilla carrying huge quantities of ammunition to the Russians at Murmansk, so that they could fight the Germans more effectively.”
He added that the Russians, though grateful for the assistance, were reluctant allies.
“You could see in their eyes that they didn’t trust us,” he said. “They weren’t friendly. They had been indoctrinated to be good communists, believing that we were evil and part of a coalition to destroy Russia.”
Jim, who was a keen photographer, was lucky to have been allowed to take his camera on board, given restrictions on wartime photography.
“Officially we weren’t allowed to take photographs,” he said. “The rules for merchant sailors were more relaxed than for RN sailors, so I was allowed to keep a photographic record of life on the ship.”
Originally from Ayrshire, Jim moved to Ellon thirty years ago with wife Jean and their children to start a career with the Wood Group at a time when the company still employed ten people. Despite retiring 12 years ago, he continues his involvement with the company in an informal capacity, and also works as a recruitment officer for Kafer Offshore.
“The group employs around 42,000 people today,” Jim said proudly. “It’s come a long way from when I started. There are still many, many opportunities in the oil industry for those looking to do something other than university, and I’m always happy to speak to youngsters about their careers.”