HMS Lancastria

  • 21 November 2010

Most people know of the sinking of the SS Lusitania or the RMS Titanic. Few know of RMS Lancastria and her fate. I was among this group until yesterday. Janet Dempsey tells about the sinking of the ship while it served as a troop transport evacuating the 2nd British Expeditionary Force from France in June 1940.The abstract of her podcast explains the impact of the disaster.

„…HMT Lancastria was sunk by a German bomber while evacuating troops from St Nazaire; over 9,000 troops were packed on board. The exact number of soldiers who died that day will never be known, though even the lowest estimates rank this as the worst British maritime disaster in history, with losses exceeding those of the Titanic and Lusitania combined. This talk attempts to explain why so many who were lost will never be accounted for.”

The British governenment imposed a ban on reporting about the sinking. This was due to the flow of bad news from the continent following the German invasion of France. The troop ship was bombed by a German Junkers Ju 88 bomber. Three of four bombs hit the RMS Lancastria, exploding below deck, and causing her to sink within 20 minutes. Only 2 of the 32 lifeboats could be launched. Nearby ships rescued thousands of troops, but many more perished in the sea.

The Lancastria Association of Scotland continues the tradition of a parade and remembrance service every year.

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