By Saul Yellin (Sidney’s brother)
Sidney grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and went into the Merchant Marines at the age of 16. When the war started he went to Officers Training School at Fort Trumbull and became a third mate. After about a year-and-a-half he became second mate and remained second mate until the end of World War II. He excelled as a navigator.
Soon after leaving the Merchant Marine in March 1947, Sid and I were asked to take the “illegal” ship “Hatikvah” to Palestine with Holocaust survivors whom we were to pick up in Europe. The “Hatikvah” was the fourth of ten ships manned by Canadian volunteers that attempted to break through the British blockade.
As planned, Sid became the skipper when the American captain left the ship at Port de Bouc, France. The ship was spotted, followed, and subsequently attacked by the British. Both passengers and crew members were disembarked at Haifa harbor and sent to Cyprus to await entrance to Palestine in line with the quota system.
Sid, Leo Schlefstein, Adrian Phillips and I were arrested by the British and sent to the Atlit Detention Camp. We were charged with involvement in the sinking of the “Empire Lifeguard,” which had been used to transfer refugees to and from Cyprus. We were transferred to Acre prison where we remained until our deportation.
Sid always felt very proud to have been able to play such a special role in rescuing Jews and taking them to the Promised Land. His love of Israel continued through his life.
He returned to the U.S.A. and became a general contractor, going into business with another “Hatikvah” crew member, Jerry Rubinstein.
Source: American Veterans of Israel Newsletter: Fall 2001.