Friday 29 May 2015

The Lancastria - a forgotten disaster

On May 19, I blogged about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during World War Two, which resulted in the deaths of around 9,000 German civilians, soldiers and sailors. Now a campaign has been launched in the UK to properly commemorate the sinking of the British liner, Lancastria (pictured) off the French port of St Nazaire in June 1940.

The ship was carrying up to 9,000 British soldiers and French and Belgian refugees when it was attacked by German bombers the day before France surrendered to the Nazis. It is thought that about 4,000 drowned.

Today people such as General Lord Dannatt, former head of the British army, the actress Joanna Lumley and the author Louis de Bernieres say the British government should do more to preserve their memory, describing the loss of the Lancastria as a ‘forgotten disaster’.

They want the government to designate the wreck an official war grave, and they refer to reports that some documents relating to the disaster are still being kept secret. The government says the wreck is already protected under French law, and that all ‘contemporary’ documents have been released. 

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