HMT Lancastria, a cross Atlantic cruise liner requisitioned as a troop transport April 1940.
The Lancastria Bombed and Sunk, Thousands Dead
Two weeks after Dunkirk, HM Troopship Lancastria – a former Cunard liner and cruise-ship that had been requisitioned by the War Office – was taking part in Operation Ariel, the evacuation of British nationals and troops from France during World War Two. Yet for 75 years, the sinking of the Lancastria has been largely forgotten – to the ongoing anger and grief of relatives of those who lost their lives and a dwindling number of survivors.
On the morning of 17th June 1940 HMT “Lancastria was anchored some miles off St Nazaire, a port on the French Atlantic Coast. Along with a number of other ships, she had been ordered to assist in the repatriation of many British servicemen and civilians who had been left in France after the evacuation of Dunkirk. By mid-afternoon of that day almost 9000 people were packed aboard the ship when she was hit four times by enemy bombs. Within thirty minutes she had sunk, suffering a loss of life equal to the combined losses of the “Lusitania” (1200) and the “Titanic” (1513).
The news of her loss was not made public in Britain until 26th July, 1940.
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