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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 00:38 GMT
Recognition for Lancastria dead
Lancastria survivors
Survivors aboard the destroyer HMS Highlander
Victims of Britain's worst maritime disaster are to be officially recognised for their wartime sacrifice after a long campaign.

An estimated 4,000 people died when the Clyde-built liner the Lancastria sank during World War II.

About 400 Scots were among the death toll, which was higher than that of the Titanic and Lusitania combined.

The Scottish Government confirmed a commemorative medal was to be struck for those caught up in the disaster.

The Lancastria was lending support to the war effort when it was attacked by German bombers on 17 June, 1940.

The ship had been evacuating British Expeditionary Forces from France.

'Pressure on'

Details of the troop ship's sinking was hushed up on Churchill's orders over fears it could affect public morale during the conflict.

Families of the victims and survivors of the attack have since campaigned for those who died to receive some form of recognition.

Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell said the move for Scottish victims would end years of neglect and also mark the unique scale of the disaster.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame, who had been involved in the campaign, described the move as "wonderful".

Troop ship Lancastria
Thousands died when the Lancastria was attacked off the French coast

She added: "I am absolutely delighted that at last there has been official recognition given to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those survivors who endured the horrors of the sinking and the decades of official silence.

"The pressure is now clearly on the British Government to ensure that all those who were aboard, regardless of their nationality, are properly and formally recognised.

"This is a significant day for the campaigners and Scottish ministers have demonstrated real stature in moving to recognise a tragedy which has been ignored and forgotten by successive British Governments."

Fiona Symon, whose father Andrew Richardson from Kirkcaldy was one of the estimated 400 Scots killed in action aboard the Lancastria, added: "The medal is a tangible acknowledgement of the sacrifice of the victims and endurance of the survivors.

"Despite the passage of 67 years since the loss of the Lancastria the pain and heartache of families is still very real and was made worse by the official cover up and lack of recognition.

"The Scottish Government has moved to address that and I do hope now that the British Government will follow the lead taken here and ensure UK-wide recognition for all those who were aboard the Lancastria that day."

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