HMT Lancastria


Book Reviewer
Book on it:

Step round any hysteria about the 'cover-up', it was militarily important to keep knowledge of the extent of the loss from our enemy, particularly when we were as deep in the hole as we were at the time.

The account includes both extraordinary heroism and some cowardice - none of us know what's inside us until we are put to the test; not for someone like me whose life has been pretty easy to be censorious about that.


Book Reviewer
You puzzle me, Sticky, my copy of Three Corvettes (6th edn, Cassell 1953) doesn't have this, only three short books that NM wrote during the war.
seaweed said:
You puzzle me, Sticky, my copy of Three Corvettes (6th edn, Cassell 1953) doesn't have this, only three short books that NM wrote during the war.
Seaweed, it's the cover title of what appears to be an expanded collection of short stories sailing under the same name as your original edition in the Cassell Military Paperback series published in 1975 as Monsarrat at Sea, and re-titled Three Corvettes in 2000. There are six other stories as well as the three original Corvette pieces.
Is the story of the Lancastria not in Monserrat's other WW2 classic collection of shorts, "HMS Marlborough will enter harbour"? Can't check I am away from the Cuddles Cave...
I only had my dad's old copy of 3 corvettes which is the basic collections of notes from the three "minibooks" he printed at the time. I do love Monserrat's writing style..


Book Reviewer
Thanks, I'm beginning to get it now, my HMS Marlborough is in with Heavy Rescue and Leave Cancelled in another compilation. Mildly annoyed that there's a Monsarrat work that I've missed! But the ref I gave from Amazon is VG in terms of accounts from those involved if not always well edited.
Seaweed, the Monsarrat piece is from 1970 and is only just over seven pages long and appears to be based on Major Petit's account. Petit died a year after Monsarrat published the book.

Cuddles, it would appear that Cassell have released several compilations. The copy I refer to contains:
The Longest Love, The Longest Hate
Three Corvettes (comprising HM Corvette, East Coast Corvette and Corvette Command)
I Was There
A Ship to Remember
HMS Marlborough Will Enter Harbour
It Was Cruel
The Ship That Died of Shame
instinct said:
While id heard of the Lancastria i'd never read into it, jesus what a horrible situation.
The episode contains much that is good and bad about human responses to danger but this bit really made me stop and think:

One bomb set her [The Lancastria] on fire; two or three went straight down into her holds, one of which held, or had held, 800 Air Force men. They had no means of escape; an RAF padre went down on a rope to lead the living in O God Our Help In Ages Past, just as Major Petit, who had been asleep in his cabin, came on deck.


Kit Reviewer
My Grandfather was on it. I have a Cigarette Box from the ship, pewter with a nice Art Decco glass emblem and RMS Lancastria stamped on it. My sister has the telegram that My grandfather sent to my grandmother telling her that he was safe. I used to make Airfix models and he froze up when he saw the Junkers 88 hanging from the ceiling, never showed them to him again.

This is a very good book on the subject which covers the hows and whys.

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