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HMT Lancastria

The Sinking of HMT Lancastria

17 June 2015

The precise number of people on board remains unknown, but is estimated to be between 6,000 and 9,000. Lancastria was hit by bombs from German aircraft, and sank quickly. Only around 2,500 of those on board survived.

The details of the incident were kept secret at the time, for fear of harming morale. It was Britain's worst maritime disaster.

The bodies of many of those who died were washed ashore along the western coast of France, and were buried in communal cemeteries and churchyards.

Those whose bodies were never recovered are commemorated by name on memorials for those with no known grave.

Around 700 members of land forces are commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial, while missing sailors are commemorated on the Naval Memorials at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth.

The Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill, London, includes the names of the merchant seamen who were serving on board, and members of the air forces lost in the disaster are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.