Published: Saturday, June 21st, 2014
Memorial service for Britain's worse maritime disaster
Members of the Lancastria Association of Scotland – set up to remember and honour all those who were present or who lost their lives in Britain’s worst maritime disaster – will tomorrow (Saturday 21 June 2014) commemorate 74 years since the Clyde-built troop ship was bombed and sunk off the coast of France.
A service will be held at the Lancastria memorial which has been erected on the symbolic site of the former William Beardmore and Sons shipbuilding yard where the Lancastria was built. This is now the site of the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.
Launched as the cruise ship Tyrrhenia, the Lancastria was taken over as a troop ship in 1939. After evacuating troops from Norway, the Lancastria found herself heading forFranceto rescue many of the 150,000 troops left behind after Dunkirk.
HMT Lancastria was sunk by a German bomber off the French coast at St Nazaire, two weeks afterDunkirk, on 17 June 1940. Four bombs were dropped on the ship at 3.50pm, sinking her within 20 minutes. Less than 2,500 of the estimated 9,000 on board survived in what was the greatest loss of life in British maritime history – greater than the Titanic andLusitaniacombined or, to give a modern comparison, twice the lives lost in the Twin Towers attack.
Fiona Symon, Chair of the Association, said, “This annual commemorative service provides support for survivors, their families and the families who lost loved ones during the sinking of the Lancastria.
“It took a long time to erect a major memorial in our country to tell the story of such enormous sacrifice. However, we are grateful that the memorial is freely accessible to all at any time and hopefully will bring some comfort to so many families who have no known grave to visit inFrance. It is also fitting that the memorial is situated, not only where the Lancastria was built, but also on the site of a national hospital that helps save lives on a daily basis. “