TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

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Gordon Wilkinson
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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby Gordon Wilkinson » Sun Oct 26, 2014 7:20 pm

Hello Everyone, I am a new member of the forum bringing some information that may be of interest to existing members seeking to trace relatives lost in the 1963 disaster and who have not been traced in Gibraltar.
I hope I can be of special benefit to ‘Bernard’ who posted 14.11.2009 when looking for help to trace his grandmother. (See below, Plot 457.)
Firstly the background to my arrival on the forum. I regularly holiday in Madeira and a friend, knowing that I was going in May of this year, asked me to make some enquiries in regard to a distant relative of his called Ronald Scatchard, who had been on the Lakonia and was ‘possibly’ buried in the British Cemetery in Funchal, the capital of Madeira.
His information was uncertain and whilst I was eager to see what I could find, I was not optimistic. On this visit to the island I was travelling with my 28 year old grandson, who was also happy to be involved.
A couple of days after we arrived, and having located the British Cemetery we made a visit. It is a walled cemetery open to visitors during the day, and entrance is by ringing the bell at the gate and being admitted by the Superintendent, Joao Carlos Almada.
Upon telling him of our quest he unhesitatingly led us to a section of the cemetery and a collection of gravestones and burial plots. It was so exciting to see that the first gravestone was that of my friend’s relative Mr. Scatchard.
We took photographs of the graves, some of which are marked only by a plot number, and were then delighted to be able to examine and photograph the cemetery register.
Not all our photographs came out well, but I shall post them on the forum, or send them to individuals if I am asked.
The people interred or remembered in the cemetery as a result of the Lakonia disaster are as follows:
Plot No 449 No headstone. Guenther Mall or Hall, of Ausberg, Bayern, West Germany.
Plot No 450 No headstone. Werner Bobek, Austrian, the cook on board the Lakonia
Plot No 451 No headstone. Stewart Brame, British, Diss, Norfolk, .UK
Plot No 452 Kennether Edwin Bell, b. 9.2.1987, British, St Peter Port, Guernsey, and his wife,
Hilda Dorothy Bell, b 9.10.1898.
The wording on the gravestone appears to show that her body was not recovered, but could also be read as neither of their bodies were recovered.
Plot No 453 Ronald H Scatchard, British, Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, UK.
Plot No 454 No headstone. Colonel Ernest Schmedding, German Subject, Munster, W.Germany, Retired German Officer.
Plot No 455 No headstone. Irene Hooper, British, St. Helier, Jersey.
Plot No 456 W A Hills, b. 10.12.1888, British, Broadstairs, Kent.
Plot No 457 Helen Marjorie Scott, British, Glasgow.
All these people were buried on 26th. December, 1963, service conducted by a Chaplain whose details in the register were not decipherable and are not known to the cemetery superintendent.
Another gravestone commemorates
James R Scrimgeour, born 1.8.1897 at Auchterarder, Scotland, who died 7.1.1964, as a result of the Lakonia disaster.
I didn’t realise until examining my photographs later that Mr. Scrimgeour died after the others had been buried, and as a result I missed the opportunity to examine the cemetery register for the details of his burial.
I suspect many forum members will be aware that the owners of the Lakonia paid for many survivors of the disaster to be accommodated at Reids Hotel, in Funchal, and I think Mr. Scrimgeour died of his injuries in Reids, leading to his burial in the British Cemetery.
I have not found an explanation for why non-British nationals were buried in the British Cemetery, but perhaps it was a matter of expediency at the time bearing in mind that the disaster occurred just before Christmas.
If any forum members wish to pursue the Madeira connection further the superintendent’s address is
Joao Carlos Almada,
British Cemetery,
Rua Da Carreira 235,
9000 D42, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.
I am sorry I did not obtain a telephone number. He does speak quite good English.
In case Bernard is no longer accessing the forum, would anyone who has contact with him, please let him know of the information I have found.

Although I have no personal or family connection with the Lakonia disaster, I shall be more than happy to be contacted by anyone who thinks I may be able to help. I shall be returning to Madeira in May/June, 2015, with my friend who started all this off for me, and would be happy to try and seek out additional information for anyone.
Warm Regards to you all
Gordon Wilkinson.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby chrissiehope » Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:41 pm

Hi Gordon, and welcome to the forum :wave:

How very kind of you to take the trouble to post all that information :D :thumbup: I am sure people with an interest in this disaster will find it very helpful, especially those who were personally affected.
Alexandr for President (Squire for PM !)

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby BENIDORM » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:40 am

Hello Gordon W.,
Welcome to the A.Com forum and thank you very much for going to so much trouble to research and list this information.
It actually completes another big chunk of my 'Lakonia Disaster Jigsaw' and I'm sure it will be of great help to many other people who still have many questions.....Well Done.!
I would be most grateful for any other information that you find...

I have to say that I'm really pleased and humbled at the massive response to this project that now scans a long period of time, I still receive messages regularly with many questions and answers from families, friends and other interested parties.
Recently there was another report in an English paper published here in Spain, however some of the facts in the report were not correct, I'm not sure if it was 'sloppy' reporting or the failing memory of the interviewee.
Regards,
Gordon H.....( Benidorm )

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby bernard » Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:39 am

Gordon, thank you.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby richardturner » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:26 pm

I wish to inform everyone of the death of Richard Burca, who was a survivor of the Lakonia disaster. Richard, 15 at the time, was the eldest of the sons of the manager of Reids Hotel on Madeira.
He was returning home to Madeira, from school in England with Richard Blandy.
Richard Burca received a bravery award from his school, Milton Abbey, for his efforts in saving others in the water before he was rescued and taken to Casablanca.

Richard had been ill for some time and recently died early in August 2015.

http://www.madeiraislandnews.com/2015/0 ... burca.html

I hope this information is of interest to this blog.

Richard Turner

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby Enrique » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:46 pm

Hi richardturner,
Welcome to The Forum and thank you for Posting.

Unfortunately the site has problems with posting long URL's

Your link....................

http://www.madeiraislandnews.com/2015/08/richard-burca.html
UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby katy » Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:14 pm

Thank you. Very kind of you to post the information.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby dmaudsley » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:30 pm

Hello

I am a BBC journalist and have been researching the Lakonia for some months now after being contacted by a survivor earlier this year. Over the past few weeks I have been gradually been making contact with a number of survivors and rescuers and hearing some incredible accounts, which will feature in a programme due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live this December.

Before then, I'm still keen to speak to as many people connected to the Lakonia disaster as I can – including the crew or anyone who was involved in the rescue (especially on the Salta or Montcalm).

I've also been trying to trace the original photos published in Life magazine. The most elusive of these have been the pictures taken by 'Ian Harris of London' which were the shots taken on board the burning Lakonia. If anyone has any further details on Ian Harris I'd really appreciate any information.

I’ll post details of the programme nearer the date. I'm sure it will be of great interest to people who've already posted accounts here, as well as those who've followed the thread as many of the stories have not been heard before.

If you'd like to get in touch, I can be reached at dan.maudsley[at]bbc.co.uk (replace [at] with the @ sign) or by messaging me on here.

Many thanks

Dan

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby dmaudsley » Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:15 pm

An update on the above post. The live Lakonia broadcast will be on 5 live Daily with Adrian Chiles on 20th December. We’ll be on air from 10am till 1pm GMT. You can listen by radio on DAB or AM (909 or 693), via the BBC iPlayer or iPlayer Radio app, or online at bbc.co.uk/5live

If you’d like to call or text while we’re on air the number to call is 0500909693, text 05850. I can be reached before the programme by email at dan.maudsley [at] bbc.co.uk (replace [at] with the @ sign).

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby dmaudsley » Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:52 am

Let me share one of the stories that has come to light ahead of the programme, from the grandson of Ian Harris. It was Ian Harris who took the pictures on board the Lakonia that appear in the Life magazine article.

See Adam Gee’s blog here: https://goo.gl/huV9B5

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby Terry Tibbs » Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:37 am

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the info about the upcoming programme; I look forward to hearing it.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby dmaudsley » Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:00 am

For those who missed today's broadcast or would like to listen again, it is available here for the next month:

5 live Daily - with Adrian Chiles
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b085fz3n

The Lakonia coverage starts around 35 minutes in for 1hr and 25 minutes, and then again for the last 25 minutes of the programme. These sections will all be edited into a single podcast which should also be permanently available.
Last edited by dmaudsley on Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby dmaudsley » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:27 am

All the Lakonia parts of the programme have now been turned into a podcast available here: http://bbc.in/2hcz01P

You can also watch the moment we reunited Patricia and Robert here: http://bbc.in/2hZKrHa
Last edited by dmaudsley on Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby Terry Tibbs » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:43 pm

Hi Dan,

Thanks again for sharing these details. I thought the programme was very interesting, but sad and moving at the same time.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby Stelhaim » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:50 pm

Hello from Greece,
I am a new member here, my name is Stelios Haimantas and I am working as a journalist in a greek TV show called "PAME PAKETO". The concept of this program based on reunions. the reason I am contacting you is because I am trying to locate a person who had survived from Laconia ship in 1963. I have limited info...just a first name (JOHN) only.
In 1963 John was around 3-4 years (55-56) old and and he had been rescued by a 20 years old greek man called Charalambos (short name Charis). they were both 7 hour in the water (Charis was holding little Jonh in his arms) before Salta ship crew rescued them. The next day, when John's parents met Charis they wanted to take him to UK forever(!!!) to thank him for saving their son.

I know it's a hard one ....but Charis 77years old today had this great will to find John after 55 years.

If you know John.. or you can help me find a list of passengers so I can find John's full name I will appreciate that :)

my email is shaimantas@gmail.com

waiting for your news

Stelios

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby paulbridger » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:25 pm

Hi everyone. My father in laws story brought the tragedy of the TSMS LAKONIA to my attention some 12 years ago. He was talking about his days in the navy (merchant) and mentioned that the ship he was on - I believe it was the Montcalm (more on that later) went the the aid of the fire stricken cruise liner. He spoke about the feeling of dread when it came to retrieving bodies from the water, and babies having to be thrown into awaiting lifeboats.

Unknown to me at the time he had never mentioned this to anyone. So to keep this awful memory to himself for 43 years must have been so hard.

Even in 2007 he went on a cruise from Southampton to the Canaries, with Funchal in Madeira as it's first port of call, with his sister and her husband, and they too were unaware of his involvement in the tragic events in those very same waters.

In the last three years he has been diagnosed with Alzheimers and when he mentions the Lakonia, he refers to it as the catalyst for what he's going through now.

Being a playwright, I never imagined I would write his story, but late last year I made a start on it and the play, COERCIVE, will be part of the Camden Fringe this July.

I would love to know if anyone was on the same boat as he was, or knew of him through the rescue efforts. His name is Anthony (Tony) Gladwell and I know he had a varied life at sea, working on many vessels from cargo ships to cruise liners that took immigrants to Australia, which is why I'm assuming that he was onboard the MONTCALM. As the events upset him so much now I feel it's not right to bring it up in conversation with him, unless he initiates it.

Thanks to anyone reading this. My father in law was and still is a remarkable man, with humility and empathy, who is having to live with Alzheimers but keeping his dignity.

If anyone would like to read more about my play, if it's ok to post a link to my blog www.paulbridger.wordpress.com and any other info to come from this would be fantastic, but I wanted to write the play in tribute to him, all the rescuers, and all those who sailed the Lakonia, especially those unfortunate to lose their lives.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby BENIDORM » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:49 pm

Hello Paul and Welcome to the A.COM forum,

Since I first wrote about this incident I've been amazed as to how many people's lives it touched and I decided some time ago that I would fall back into the shadows and let other people tell their stories, but after reading your story about your father-in-law I feel I should come back to say that I really understand his thoughts and how he was affected by this traumatic event.
I also did not talk about it for many years, but it entered my thoughts very often and I believe this traumatic time and others that I was involved with affected my mind forever.
My interest in social history was probably heightened because of my involvement with this tragedy and I now spend much of my time trying to unravel traumatic events that have touched so many people's lives and so much forgotten in time.

Please ,if you can , shake your Father-in-laws hand and try to explain to him that it's on behalf of someone who shared with him a moment in time when it was difficult to understand such a harrowing experience.

I will read your transcript when I have a quiet moment....
Best Wishes,
Gordon..ex. H.M.S Centaur.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby paulbridger » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:58 pm

Gordon,
Thank you so much for your reply... when I find a moment I will indeed shake his hand for you. Thank you for sharing your story initially on this site as I found it years ago but never imagined I’d be conversing on here

Kind regards
Paul

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby EastMids » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:46 am

Hello, thanks to all involved in the campaign for the commemorate plaque. I'm not sure that anyone is still reading this thread but here goes... I have found the information on this site regarding the Lakonia fascinating but it has thrown up questions for me, as the direct descendant of a Lakonia victim. Is there anyone who has visited the cemetery? I was looking at the plaque online and the PDF produced, why do the Jewish victims not have numbered plots, is it a different system? It has occurred to me that maybe prior to DNA or indeed dental records that it might not have been possible to distinguish victims, though it's not something I would like to dwell on.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby paulbridger » Mon Aug 27, 2018 10:07 pm

Hi everyone, I just wanted to update you all after my play, Coercive premiered in Camden. We had one reviewer in, see link https://viewsfromthegods.co.uk/coercive.shtml

I was really pleased with what they said and lol forward to performing it again this Thursday, 30th August in Faversham, Kent.

Hope you all don’t mind the update.

Best
Paul


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