Recognition for 4000 BEF Lancastria victims

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by captain_nonsensical, Oct 31, 2006.

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  1. On the 17th of June 1940 the troopship Lancastria was sunk by German bombers off the French coastal town of St. Nazaire and sank in just 20 minutes. 4000 troops of the British Expeditionary Force lost their lives. Its the worst single loss of life in British maritime history and the worst single loss of life for British forces in the whole of World War 2.

    The MoD are refusing to designate Lancastria an official maritime war grave even though internal emails from MoD legal officials show the wreck could be designated an official maritime war grave under the Protection of Military Remains Act (1986). Survivors, veterans and relatives are now campaigning to force the MoD into recognising this loss and have started a petition which has attracted signatures from across the world. They will submit the petition to Downing Street early next year.

    You can electronically sign the petition by visiting and then clicking on the petition link.

    There are many penpushers in Whitehall who would prefer to forget the sacrifice made by these men, but I hope you will not.

  2. 4000 in one pop :(

    RIP guys.
  3. Jesus Christ what a loss!

    Petition signed with humility.
  4. Signed.

    RIP guys.
  5. One of my Grandfather's was a Sgt in the in the RASC during this time, he missed the boat due to staying too long at a French lady friends house where his mobile workshopped was parked up....

    For missing the boat he was demoted to Cpl and posted to Hackney hospital to spend the rest of the war head butting hienkel and Dornier droppings

    Demoted for not being dead
  6. I may be being very dim, but I thought that as a troopship it automatically was covered? There was an item in the news recently about two sisters who had campaigned to have the merchant ship their (navy) father died in made into a war grave, and the problem being that it had been a merchant and not RN ship. If the Lancastria was requisitioned, surely it should automatically be a maritime war grave?
  7. Thanks Exmoorgirl,

    Yes Lancastria was requistioned, BUT the MoD's public line has been that "because she does not lie in British waters she cannot be covered by the Act" and therefore she is not covered. Until July there were only 17 wrecks designated INCLUDING a German U Boat. The wreck you mention was the Storaa which was a merchant vessel sunk off the South Coast. The relatives had to take legal action and recently won that at the High Court, despite the MoD trying to appeal the decision... The relatives of Storaa are now in contact with us and regretably we may also have to take legal action. We managed to get an email from MoD legal officials under Freedom of Information which said after quoting parts of the Protection of Military Remains Act and despite the public statements to the contrary, that "It seems, oddly, that Lancastria could be designated under the Act".

    We think they are worried about the costs of monitoring the wreck and the additional responsibility. The Commissioner for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has backed our call and many of the survivors feel, as I do, that we shouldn't have to fight for this at all - that the wreck site and remains should have automatically been covered by the Act and proper recognition afforded.

    The designation as a War Grave must come from the Secretary of State and at present there is nothing automatic about that, sadly. We hope the petition will rectify that.

    Lancastria doesn't fit with the propoganda of the period, one reason Churchill banned all news coverage of it and why most people know nothing of it. It takes the tinge off the miracle of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain as it landed right in the middle of these two events and no amount of spinning can portray it as a victory or win - but the sacrifice made by those men was as ultimate as any other. Last year when we were out for the pilgrimage the French had a full guard of honour, a military band, colour party, French naval vessel all the local French dignatories and veterans and no one official from the British side despite being specifically invited. The MoD said they only commemorate 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries... ! Hopeless.

    Hope you can sign the petition.
  8. Signed, and with enormous Respect for them.
  9. Just randomly came across this story elsewhere while researching St Nazaire. Glad it is already being addressed on ARRSE, and quite rightly so as this is a huge loss that is still almost unknown in the UK. A third of all BEF casualties, effectively best part of 6 battalions lost, more casualties than titanic and lusitania combined, four times more deaths than British focres lost on D-Day (thankfull obviously they were lighter), and yet no recognition from our government.

    I cant comprehend how we can spend billions on hosting a two week sporting event, millions widening a road, millions on immigrants, and yet zero on remembering this tragedy where 4000 of our sevicemen lost their lives.

    67 signed so far. Sure we can do more to raise the profile on this and get some action for our fallen forefathers. This should be bumped and kept alive, and hopefully their memory will be finally recognised with dignity as an official wargrave site.
  10. Would have signed, with utmost respect for those on the ship, and contempt for those that refuse to recognise it.....But it appears to have closed now.....

  11. Signed, the petition is still open
  12. I'm obviously being useless, but I can't find the petition link on your website and I've searched the 10 downing street petitions without sucess.
  13. Thanks Crabby, I was obviously being a mong.......
  14. I would have thought Lancastria being a Troopship would automatically have enjoyed war grave status?

    Has an application ever been made to protect Lancastria in this fashion?

    There is also the UNESCO charter for protection of Maritime sites.