The Great Bitter Lake Association goes global

When I came across the story of the ships stranded in the Suez Canal for 8 years, I felt that this little-known story of international solidarity should be better known. Now I believe it is.

I’d like to draw your attention to a range of materials. Many people have helped to give a place in history to the seafarers who developed a cooperative community in the midst of conflict.


GBLA book Peter Valdner
Peter Valdner’s stamp catalogue

The latest addition to the body of knowledge comes from Slovak author and stamp expert Peter Valdner. He has compiled an extensive collection of Great Bitter Lake Association (GBLA) stamps, memorabilia and photographs. They are reproduced in high-quality full colour in his stamp catalogue



Janusz Frackiewicz has produced a series of commemorative titles, full of details, letters and photos. Even if you don’t read Polish, you’ll appreciate the range of sources.

Book by Janusz Frackiewicz
One of Janusz Frackiewicz’s books about the GBLA


In late 2019, Al Jazeera produced a moving documentary, Yellow Fleet. Former crew members tell the story in their own words. They retell events from the day the ships were marooned at the outbreak of the Six-Day War to the release of the rusting vessels in 1975.

Al Jazeera Yellow Fleet
Al Jazeera: Yellow Fleet

The events took place in Egypt. Yet it seems few were aware until recently of the presence of the ships in Arab waters.

With increased interest in the Arab world, Egyptian translator Ahmed Mohammad is creating an Arabic version of Stranded in the Six-Day War.


One stranded ship was American – the African Glen. Yet America’s role in the story was little known in the USA. Then 99% Invisible picked up on it. With their talent for nosing out unnoticed places, objects and historical events, their podcast spread the word.

Screen shot of 99% Invisible podcast
99% Invisible podcast

Screen and stage

Others are exploring creative responses: US author Kyle Roesler is working on a treatment for a feature film. Jessica Hindsley of Denver, Colorado is developing an original musical set in the Great Bitter Lake during the Six-Day War. The guys on the Blue Funnel Old Timers’ forum have a question for Jessica? Would you like any of the original cast to participate?!

If anyone out there knows of other books, films, podcasts or plays about the GBLA, please get in touch with me.


2 thoughts on “The Great Bitter Lake Association goes global”

  1. Dear Cath, i read with interest your interest in The Yellow Fleet.
    My name is Ewa Larsson and I’m the daughter of one of the seacaptains on M/S Killara. One of the swedish ships that was trapt in the Great Bitter Lake.
    It would be great to get in touch with you and let you know what I was told by my father.
    Sincerely yours
    Ewa Larsson

    1. Dear Ewa Larsson

      Apologies for the delay in replying to you. How interesting that your father was a captain on MS Killara. I would love to hear what your father told you.

      Warm wishes

      Cath Senker

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