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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 09:27 GMT
Lancastria disaster memorial call
Thousands of men died when the Lancastria was attacked

Relatives of victims of Britain's worst sea disaster are to campaign for a permanent memorial in Scotland.

The Clyde-built Lancastria was carrying about 9,000 troops when it was sunk by German bombers off the coast of France in 1940 during a mass evacuation.

The Lancastria Association of Scotland is to lobby the Scottish Parliament in the new year for a memorial to the estimated 4,000 people who died.

The wreck lies five miles from the French coastal town of St Nazaire.

Campaigners have also received a boost in their campaign to have the area where the ship sunk designated as a formal war grave.

There's no formal memorial to the Lancastria anywhere in the UK, so it would be good to get one in Scotland somewhere
Mark Hirst
Grandson of a survivor

Mark Hirst, 36, whose grandfather Walter Hirst was a Lancastria survivor, is among those campaigning for a memorial.

He said: "We're going to be handing in a petition to the Scottish Parliament for a special medal and, or, a permanent memorial for the victims.

"There's no formal memorial to the Lancastria anywhere in the UK, so it would be good to get one in Scotland somewhere."

The site of the current HCI hospital in Clydebank is one possible site being mooted for the memorial.

Mr Hirst added: "That's where the ship was actually built so it would be fitting to have it there, maybe somewhere in the hospital grounds."

Protected from divers

The wreck of the ship lies about five miles from the French coast in about 20m of water.

Campaigners want it to be recognised as a formal war grave and protected from divers.

Labour MP Alan Meale has now written to the prime minister's office on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, asking that the government changes its current designation as a maritime grave.

The Lancastria Association of Scotland has members in Tayside, Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross, Ayrshire, Stirling, France, Canada and New Zealand.

Earlier this year, it held a special exhibition about the disaster in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament.

'Secret' disaster remembered
11 Jun 00 |  UK News
Lancastria in pictures
01 Jun 00 |  UK News


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