Lancastria a bigger disaster than Titanic and Lusitania put together


Ian Bland

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May 31, 2009
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Hello Stuart

I agree. It is difficult to take in the scale of the Lancastria and what happened. To understand and appreciate that 5,000 families lost a loved one is hard to comtemplate.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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The fact that the Lancastria is all but forgotten may be in a small way due to the fact that it was taken down during a wartime instead of a peactime crossing. The main reason is probably due to the secracy mentioned in the link above. If the disaster wasn't really in the public's eye at the time it occurred, that could be a factor to it being forgotten. Still, it is incredible that it's never really heard from.
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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THERE is a new book out in hardback called "The Sinking of the Lancastria" by Jonathan Fenby, a highly distinguished author and editor.

Needless to say, he knows how to marshall his facts and how to pace a ripping yarn. Very reminiscent of Walter Lord's style.

It reflects the fall of France in 1940, and would have similarities to Lord's Miracle at Dunkirk [another good book], except that it reflects, possibly for the first time in this genre, the fate of 150,000 BEF troops left behind after the Dunkirk evacuation.

Bet you didn't think there were that many?
Churchill lied for wartime propaganda purposes that the entire BEF had been lifted from the beaches.

But a whole army was still left to fall back to the ports on the west coast.

* Apparently, Jeremy, they changed the name because passengers didn't like it and didn't know how to pronounce it. Thus they wouldn't book.
Crew used to call her the "soup tureen," and kept this nickname after she became the ill-fated Lancastria.
Incidentally, changing a ship's name is regarded as an ill-omen... but then sailors have so many superstitions that it hardly matters.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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"Very reminiscent of Walter Lord's style."

Oh dear!

"Bet you didn't think there were that many?"

There seems to be a spate of revisionary historians purporting to reveal what has hitherto been common knowledge among the cognoscenti.

"Incidentally, changing a ship's name is regarded as an ill-omen..."

In my experience - if you can trust that - ships names got (and still get) changed all the time for various ownership and operational reasons; nobody gave a ####!

Noel
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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Hi Noel,

I said Walter Lord's style (he is a magnificent sytlist) - not Walter Lord's work!!

As I said to someone only yesterday, Gruyere cheese comes to mind in the latter regard.
 

James Hill

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Feb 20, 2002
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I`m surprised I have not found any material on RMS/ HMT Lancastria. For my birthday I received a recent publication "The Sinking of the Lancastria"
I thought I would start a discussion for us too share or views and theories on the Lancastria. How many people do you think died in the Lancastria ? If any of us live until 2040 we may find out more darker material of the disaster when the British Government releases documents about the sinking.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hello James
Did you know there was a Lancastria Historical Society? I do know they have a webpage. You might want to contact them.
Mike
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Dec 3, 2000
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From the Herald Scotland:

Lancastria legacy scars Scotland 70 years on

quote:

It was the worst single loss of life in British maritime history and a Second World War tragedy that claimed upwards of 4000 lives — more than the combined losses of the Titanic and the Lusitania.

For the rest of the story, click here.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Dec 3, 2000
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From BBC News:

Lancastria: Britain's forgotten disaster

quote:

Britain's worst ever maritime disaster, the 1940 sinking of the troopship Lancastria, which claimed the lives of between four and six thousand men, has all but been erased from history. But survivors and campaigners are keeping the memory alive.

For the rest of the story, click here.
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Thanks for that link, Jason.

Completely agree that one of the reasons so few have heard about it is owing to Lancastria being a wartime casuality - and one that wasn't used for progaganda purposes, but shut down for propaganda purposes.

Most people on this board will know about the sinking of MV Wilhelm Gustloff, with the loss of 9,000+ lives including thousands of women and children. However, despite it marking the largest loss of life from the sinking of one vessel in maritime history, it's another little known tragedy for a variety of reasons including being at the tail end of WWII and not a tale to be told be the victors.
 

Ernie Luck

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Nov 24, 2004
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>>>and one that wasn't used for propaganda purposes<<<

Unlike the sinking of the Lusitania which backfired spectacularly.
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Jason, that second site has some excellent - and chilling - photographs. The simple timeline and history has me interested in knowing more, and I'll be keeping an eye out for the Fenby book at the library now.

You've lost me there, Ernie. Everything I've ever seen/read shows that the sinking of the Lusitania did cause considerable anti-German sentiment, a lot of it fomented by over the top editorialising pushing the barbarity of the Hun rather than the truth. (Even if if wasn't the oft-cited direct cause of the US entering WWI.)
 

Ernie Luck

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Nov 24, 2004
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Hi Fiona.

Yes sorry, I should have indicated to what I was referring to. It was the tasteless medal made in Germany to celebrate the sinking of the Lusitania. It may have been good for home consumption but garnered a lot of ill feeling towards them. In fact a copy medal was produced by the British and used as counter propaganda.
 

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