A fortnight after the evacuation at Dunkirk some 150,000 British troops were still stuck in France. As the German advance thundered west these Allied soldiers and airmen were faced with a mad dash to the coast in the hope that a troop-ship awaited them there. One such vessel was the 'Lancastria', a 16,000-ton liner pressed into service and now anchored off the port of St-Nazaire. On 17 June 1940, ready to head for home, the ship was bombed by the Luftwaffe. As she sank, between 3,500 and 4,000 of those on board lost their lives. Re-creating this extraordinary episode with great narrative flair, Jonathan Fenby shows us not just the human stories behind the disaster but the cover-up that followed -- as Churchill ordered a blanket ban on news stories for the sake of the country's morale. Gripping and moving, LANCASTRIA tells one of the great forgotten stories of the Second World War.
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Jonathan Fenby is a former editor of the OBSERVER and of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. He is the author of several books including the acclaimed ON THE BRINK: THE TROUBLE WITH FRANCE and GENERALISSIMO: CHIANG KAI-SHEK AND THE CHINA HE LOST.From Booklist:
On June 17, 1940, the Lancastria, a former Cunard liner turned into a troopship, sank in the harbor at St-Nazaire, France, after being hit by four bombs dropped from a German plane. On board were more than 6,000 people, mostly soldiers, although some were civilian women and children. At least 3,500 on board were killed. Eight hundred Royal Air Force men died when a bomb hit one of the holds, and another ripped through the ship's hospital. Some of the people in the water went mad. Many choked on the 1,400 tons of oil that poured out of the liner's tanks. Fenby reveals that Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the sinking not to be reported in the press for the time being, but in the rush of events, "he forgot to lift the ban." It was the greatest loss of life in any British maritime disaster, a tragedy that Churchill tried to conceal. The book, based on accounts by survivors and other documents and diaries, is a gripping chronicle of this catastrophe. George Cohen
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Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110743259300