Rms Lancastria

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Jdbbooklets, Aug 19, 2021.

  1. Adrian Figis

    Adrian Figis Member

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  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    As you say, signing up is easy and free. I've just downloaded the file and it's quite interesting. The date covering the sinking is classic understatement - "bombed. Reported sinking, position unknown. Sunk.
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  3. Adrian Figis

    Adrian Figis Member

    Been on the National Archives site again - by typing in Lancastria, some 283 references come up and while not all refer to the ship, a fair number do - albeit some would need a trip to Kew or a request for them to be copied. From the 'headline' write-ups, there looks to be some fascinating material if one wished to personally review original documentation.
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  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    'Dressed for bed' ? Does he think that the BEF were issued Pyjamas ? Many of the casualties were not BEF anyway. The total included MN, RAF and civilian...as for 'Kept secret' ...Few families knew precisely how their loved ones had died until after 1945.

    What is it about Lancastria that attracts all the fruitcake conspiracy theorists ? It's up there with St. Valery.
    Roy Martin likes this.
  6. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Writing after the war, Churchill, who is not the most reliable source may have sown the seed.

    At Brest and the western ports the evacuations were numerous. The German air attack on the transports was heavy. One frightful incident occurred on the 17th at St. Nazaire. The 20,000-ton liner Lancastria, with five thousand men on board, was bombed and set on fire just as she was about to leave. A mass of flaming oil spread over the water round the ship, and upwards of three thousand men perished. The rest were rescued under continued air attack by the devotion of the small craft. When this news came to me in the quiet Cabinet Room during the afternoon I forbade its publication, saying: “The newspapers have got quite enough disaster for to-day at least.” I had intended to release the news a few days later, but events crowded upon us so black and so quickly that I forgot to lift the ban, and it was some years before the knowledge of this horror became public.

    Their Finest Hour : Churchill S. Winston : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

    Some accounts refer to a D-notice, which didn’t have the force of law, but only amounted to a request not to publish with which editors and proprietors generally obliged. I’m not sure whether or when one was issued, what its terms might have been nor when it might have been lifted, but a cursory search reveals that the story was being carried in the press by the 26th, with the Express publishing photographs of the capsizing ship in the following days.

    Daily Herald, Friday, July 26.

    Daily Record, Friday, July 26

    Daily Telegraph, Friday, July 26

    The Times, Friday, July 26.

    Express, Monday, July 29

    Sunday Express, Sunday, August 4
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2021
  7. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I have never heard of a D notice being raised relating on the loss of the Lancastria.

    The loss of the vessel and lives was only made known to the public on the evening of Thursday 25 July 1940.By Friday's morning editions, the account was published by the leading national newspapers.

    The Daily Mirror headlines led with "2823 Lost in Bombed Liner" to report ...."Of the 5300 people on board the Cunard White Star Liner Lancastria (16243 tons),when she was sunk at St Nazaire,2823 are missing. Lancastria had just completed embarking personnel when enemy aircraft attacked her". (I would think that an in depth report of the loss would be from the official debriefing of her master Captain Sharp and would not be open to the public.)

    Regarding the reference "dressed for bed",....a misleading statement regarding the time and such attire being available in a serviceman's kit. The vessel was being loaded with personnel, many exhausted, from early on 17 June. Those on board early were treated to a good lunch selected from the menu card...the intention being that the Lancastria would sail early in the afternoon. Embarkation was continuous from a holding area situated on a nearby airfield and described by one survivor as a masterpiece of "packing" personnel on board.
  8. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    ADM199/2133—Survivors Report: Merchant Vessels. 1940 June-August (contains the Master's report) I have part of the ADM199/2133 file but unfortunately I dont have page 55 which is specific to LANCASTRIA.

    The question about the 100 year rule on LANCASTRIA records was answered in 2006 - whether there are any more, I don't know. Lancastria Bombing (1940)
  9. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    The 'D-Notice' website has the answer:
    From: History – The DSMA Notice System
  10. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Here are some examples of authors claiming that a D-notice was used Harry, but as I said, I can’t vouch for the claim.
    lancastria "d-notice" - Google Search
    This information is incorrect David.

    From the Guardian:

    It was finally created in 1912 in the runup to the first world war, when the fiercely anti-German press barons of the era were only too happy to prevent the enemy from accessing useful intelligence.

    At the outset, therefore, it was largely viewed as a sensible and pragmatic arrangement that did not inhibit press freedom. Editors and journalists appear to have accepted it without demur up to and including the second world war, when self-censorship was the order of the day for Britain’s press.

    And an example from the War Cabinet minutes for 24 April 1942, CAB 65/26/13:

    A D-notice provides a potential explanation for the initial 5-6 week delay in publishing and perhaps its discretionary nature explains why the editors and publishers weren’t prosecuted when they did publish - had this been on a statutory basis they surely would have been. But of course this doesn’t fit Churchill’s post-war narrative.
  11. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Well that is a puzzle then; disbanded I posted citing the official website and you provide a War Cabinet Minute, even one that says 'probably by the issue of a 'D' Notice. So I have just emailed officialdom to ask. Perhaps the answer is in the Official History, being published in 2009, at nearly £50 a book for the few. If they reply I will add an update.
  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    As my post stated
    “Another story”

    Many on here know the many stories of family members in WW2 either serving or not serving.Some true many as we say now urban myths

    Every action where a person lost their life or was affected by the war is terrible

    Sadly with many of the WW2 major events surfacing from time to time stories or misplaced family memories are added not in a malicious way but told as it is by family members who possibly dont have an interest in WW2 and pass on what stories they remember or even misremember from times past.
    Add in a local paper reporting it as a bit of news to fill a column many of the journalists do not fact check and it goes to print as told.
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  13. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    As you would expect TNA have a number of references to the evolving press censorship regime. Minute 9 of the War Cabinet minutes for 18 July 1940 addresses the existing weaknesses and proposals for tightening up the system in our time frame.
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  14. Adrian Figis

    Adrian Figis Member

    One event which the BBC since claimed was covered up was the April 1942 'friendly fire' incident at Imber where some 25 soldiers were killed and 71 injured when an exhibition of RAF firepower, given in bad weather, turned to tragedy. The incident actually was fully covered in the press at the time including casualty reports, obituaries and write-ups on the inquest, and the Courts Martial.
  15. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Just had a reply from the DSMA Secretary, Brigadier Dodds and he has kindly agreed that it all can be posted here:
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  16. Jdbbooklets

    Jdbbooklets Member

    Maybe Sir my book called Ship557 may take you into new realms. Its detailed yes but not as detailed as Brian Crabbs, but I have researched thoroughly and put with the Forward 16 chapters within, Im now designing the outside back page and most of inside been completed but now have today outing the order of preference. I have thanked the authors before me in the Forward section and Im hoping the number of pages will equal 208-212 not quite sure yet.
  17. Jdbbooklets

    Jdbbooklets Member

    Hello Sir, sorry I haven't responded Ive not been well and now Im catching up please tell me your story and Im sure it can go in the book, Im looking forward to it and Thank you.
  18. Jdbbooklets

    Jdbbooklets Member

    I can fully assure you its not in disrespect to anyone and certainly not to families and descendants of the lost souls. Its a story about what happened as near to facts as possible, their is no fiction. My bibliography tells all and ©held by the photograph as well as my associate designer and myself and from stories given and from the CWGC and The RAF.
  19. Jdbbooklets

    Jdbbooklets Member

    Thankyou for this I will check the London Gazette very kind of you,
  20. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    All I am saying is stories
    the word stories sums it up

    with time family members who get told stories which were already a bit shaky in their telling then make it even worse in their translation

    "great uncle Bill jumped off X ship and saved the ships cat and when he was in the water the ship got attacked by a Stuka and he wa the only survivor "

    etc etc

    so stories this late in the day without accurate corroboration muddy the water

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