‘The Sinking of the Laconia’ to hit our screens soon

The Laconia

The Laconia

I’ve just been watching BBC1, and seen a trailer for their upcoming Dramas. Among them is the two-part story of The Sinking of the Laconia. It stars Brian Cox as Captain Rudolph Sharp.

The Laconia was a Cunard Liner, pressed into service as a troop ship in the Seond World War. She was torpedoed in 1942, in what became one of the most moving stories of the war.

I have a keen interest in this programme, as my great-uncle Leading Stoker Thomas Daly was onboard when she went down. He survived and was rescued by the Vichy French. He was interned in Morrocco, and contracted Dysentry. He was liberated, only to die after returning to England in 1943.

Leading Stoker Thomas Daly

Leading Stoker Thomas Daly

Here’s the blurb from the BBC website:

Andrew Buchan and rising German star Ken Duken are joined by Brian Cox and Lindsay Duncan in The Sinking Of The Laconia, a powerful new two-part drama for BBC Two from acclaimed writer Alan Bleasdale. The drama tells the true story of the amazing heroism shown by ordinary people in the face of extraordinary adversity during the Second World War. Brian Cox plays Captain Sharp, whose armed British vessel, the RMS Laconia, was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat 156 on 12 September 1942. Also on board was 3rd officer Thomas Mortimer (Buchan), who heroically risked his life to help the passengers reach the lifeboats.
Six hundred miles from the coast of Africa, the mixture of English civilians, Allied soldiers and Italian Prisoners of War faced certain death until U-Boat Commander Werner Hartenstein (Duken) made a decision that went against the orders of Nazi High Command. The U-boat surfaced and Hartenstein instructed his men to save as many of the shipwrecked survivors as they could. Over the next few days the U-156 saved 400 people, with 200 people crammed on board the surface-level submarine and another 200 in lifeboats. Hartenstein gave orders for messages to be sent out to the Allies to organise a rescue of the survivors but, in an unbelievable twist, they were spotted by an American B-24 bomber who moved in to attack. The Sinking Of The Laconia takes a look at the human side of the remarkable events that took place: the friendships that developed, the small acts of heroism,and the triumph of the human spirit in the most incredible of situations. The cast also includes some of Germany’s biggest names, including Matthias Koeberlin, Frederick Lau and Thomas Kretschmann.

No idea of when it will be on yet, but you can be sure as soon as I know you will read it here!

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154 Comments

Filed under Family History, maritime history, Navy, On TV, Uncategorized, World War Two

154 responses to “‘The Sinking of the Laconia’ to hit our screens soon

  1. my dad was on this ship sss laconia sep 1942 he was a butcher on the ship laconia he is 86years old partley blind he lives in wallasey merseyside and with is son barry he has a good memorey about the ship no one has not been in touch with him a bout the flim sine barry johnson

    • Gillian

      HI My family contacted the producers as my father and his family were on board. Sadly his parents did not survive. He also has an excellent recollection and no-one was interested. Very disappointing. Gillian

      • James Daly

        Hi Gillian, sadly this seems to be a recurring thread with the Laconia drama. I wonder just what they have based the programme on. I guess we will have to wait and see, if it ever reaches our screens!

        James

      • Peter

        Hi. I too contacted the producers back in 2008 with an story about my uncle who perished on Lifeboat No.9 (Doris Hawkins’ boat). He was travelling back to England with “Mary” (also mentioned at length by Doris) and they both died, entrusting Doris to take mementoes back to their families. I have the silver cigarette case inscribed with his initials that she brought back to England with her. I also have a letter he wrote to his mother in New Zealand over a year before in which he describes the cigarette case when he bought it. I find it very powerful to hold that same artifact that spent time in the Laconia and somehow survives to this day. I got no acknowledgement from the producers, and I am interested to know how many liberties they have taken with the story in order to ‘entertain’ viewers.

        I have a full transcript of Doris Hawkins book if anyone is interested.

        • Elo

          Hi Peter – How amazing to hear that you have a cigarette case from your uncle. Incidentally, ‘Mary’ in Doris Hawkins account of the Laconian, was my great aunt Lady Grizel Mary Wolfe Murray. Doris was known as ‘Freckles’ by the family, and they stayed in touch till she died. We also have the account. So were your uncle and Grizel friends? I thought she was primarily traveling with Freckles. How amazing!!I am sad to hear that the producers have not been seen to be paying much attention to these personal accounts. It will be interesting to see how it pans out

        • Tony Leggett

          I am amazed that the producers did’nt acknowledge your contribution to this important piece of history. The BBC are going to transmit part 1 in an hour’s time. I shall be thinking of you and your relatives

          • Brenda Crook

            I,too have been awaiting the programme with interest. My brother RN Leading Seaman Hector Lionel Culver was ‘on passage’ on the Laconia having survived three bombings whilst serving in the Malta convoys, only to meet his doom just 2 weeks short of his 21st birthday, whilst being transported back to the UK. I can only think that he may have been sent home through injury? It seems unlikely that he would have been required to take such a journey away from the action otherwise.Can anyone describe to me the type of accommodation the men ‘on passage, might have had please?

            • Evelyn

              Hi Brenda

              Im sorry that your brother died, it sounds like my great uncle Donald James Brown who was a squadron leader with 104 RAF in Malta had much the same story as Hector. The Military Dr recommended the sea voyage home after he was injured, as it would ‘do him good’. The rest of his squadron flew home, arriving safe and sound in England the same day. It seems madness to send them on a long voyage doesn’t it? I wish I could find out more about what happened to him on that day.

        • Carol Aleknavicius

          Hi Peter,
          My Grandfather, Frank Beardsall was a baker on the Laconia, and was lost at sea, though we never knew if he died when the ship sunk or whether he made it onto a lifeboat…
          Frank was 36 and my father, Peter was back home aged 7 and never saw his father again.
          Peter is now 75 and was looking forward to, but was very disappointed with the BBC dramatisation. He enjoyed the survivors’ story much better last night. I “enjoyed” though harrowing at times, though it was a pity that some of the detail was missing or misrepresented. Whenever I am in London I visit the Tower Hill Memorial and it never fails to move me – the sheer numbers of names, so tragic.
          In the meantime, how may I get a copy of Doris Hawkins book, I would love to read it?
          Kind Regards,
          Carol (nee Beardsall)

        • Shirley Philpott

          Hi Peter, I read in your article of the 3rd Jan.2011 that you have a full transcript of Sister Doris Hawkins’ book “Atlantic torpedo”, I have been trying to get a copy for years, after I heard she had written it. Unfortunately it was after I had left London & Engl and, infact after she had died!! I had the privilege of training as one of her “Pupil Midwives” at The British Hospital for Mother and Babies Woollwich London, of which she was Matron. She was a wonderful women, and a great Matron. I together with many of her nurses kept in touch with her right up until she died. Do you know how I can get a copy of her book? I now live in Brisbane Australia. I did read with interest also of the articles from relatives and survivors of the Laconia,

          • Tony Large

            Dear Shirley
            If you are computer competent go to Abebooks website and key in Doris Hawkins’ ‘Atlantic Torpedo’. And prepare for a shock! Vendors want a king’s ransom for this simple little work but if you shop around the booksellers on the web you may, with luck, find a cheaper copy.
            I met Doris H in Lolndon in early 1943 when we compared notes on the Laconia’s sinking and our survivals and I didn’t see her again. After the war I was a medical student at Guy’s Hospital and little did I know that she was not far away at Woolwich. Life is full of regrets for I would have gone to see her, but it was an era in which the last thing most of us wanted to talk about was the war.. I bought my copy of ‘Atlantic Torpedo’ for two shilings an sixpence in ’43 and have now mislaid (hope not lost) it!
            About ten years ago I wrote a book called ‘In Deep and Troubled Waters’, largely focussed on the Laconia Affair, and have some copies at my home in Tasmania if you want to read it.
            Cheers, Tony Large

          • Cynthia

            This is many moons after you posted this but I’ve just been reading Sisters of the East End by Helen Batten and was so thrilled to read about BHMB. I was a pupil midwife there in the early sixties and have very fond memories of my training. I also come across women who had their babies there and loved the ‘home’. I treasure my copy of Atlantic Torpedo signed by Matron herself. What a wonderful woman.

        • Sue

          Dear Peter,
          I’d love to get a copy of the transcript you have of transcript of Doris Hawkin’s book. My email is sioux_30@yahoo.com

          Many thanks,
          Sue

        • Hello Peter,

          I’ve been reading the tragic accounts of the sinking of the Laconia, and I was quite fascinated with your post! It is absolutely incredible that you have a physical item from your Uncle that has made its way to you via Doris Hawkins! If any story related to this tragedy should be documented on film, then yours certainly should have been among the first. For you have REAL physical evidence linking this historical tragedy with the present. Having your lost Uncle’s personalized cigarette case made this story so REAL to me – like nothing else I’ve ever read about it before!

          I’m certain viewers would have been touched to see your Uncle’s items as much as anything else. How the producers missed this amazing opportunity, to humanize this story with your evidence, is beyond comprehension! It’s certainly a shame we all had to miss out because of their lack of judgment.

          Thanks for sharing your story with us!
          Sincerely,
          Mark
          mark77301@yahoo.com

        • Andrew Stevens

          I have just finished reading the Sinking of the Laconia, my interest in the story having been aroused when family tree research revealed that my great uncle, Arnold Seymour Stevens was one of the British servicemen who perished aboard this ship. I would be very interested to read a transcript of Doris Hawkins’ book if you still have it available.

      • WOW my relative has just told me this is on, im related to the family it would seem, how exciting.Spencer Wells

    • Carol Aleknavicius

      hi Barry,
      great to hear about your father.
      If you feel it’s OK, would it be possible to ask if he ever came into contact with the bakers on the Laconia?
      My grandfather, Frank Beardsall, from Oldham, was a baker on the ship and I wondered, as your Dad was a butcher, if they ever met?
      Frank was 36 at the time, but died in the incident.
      Kind Regards,
      Carol

    • I have just now found five mins to sit down and read this….so Rudolph was my great grandads sisters son……how amazing, as a Wells we seen to have some great people in our family, guess i should have gone into the navy instead of choosing a life in the Music Bizz, i will be watching this and also attending the Family Wells gathering later in the year, my relative was certainly a hero………….Spencer Bradley Wells

  2. James Daly

    Hi Barry, many thanks for your comment. I would be very interested to hear more about your dad. Have you considered interviewing him and writing down his recollections?

    Its a shame that they did not get in touch with him about the film. I’m looking forward to seeing what accounts they have based the film on and how accurate it is.

  3. Jo Pratchett

    I was a 15 year old girl on board the Laconia when it was torpedoed and was very lucky to survive with my family. We also ended up in an internment camp in Morocco. I can remember the kindness of the U-boat Commander and his crew. He really did not know that there were women and children aboard the ship when he torpedoed it.

    • Mrs Helen Charles

      I am the youngest survivor of the Laconia and was only 5 months old then. I would like to contact Jo Pratchett as she left a note on my BBC digital story “Luck of the Logans” to say that she sat next to my parents on the lifeboat and so would have ended up with them at camp Sid El Ayashi, in Morocco. There is a society, International Submarine Connection Plauen, (I.S.C.P. see website) formed in honour of Werner Hartenstein, of which I am a member.I have visited Hartenstein’s home city 4 times and met his nephew, also named Werner, always being most warmly received.
      I give talks on the Laconia Incident to various organisations, to further good relations between nations who were former enemies. I too am very much looking forward to this TV Drama which will be shown in Germany at the same time.

  4. James Daly

    Hi Jo, many thanks for your comment. It is fascinating to hear from somebody who was on the Laconia, especially with my personal connection with the incident.

    I really hope that the programme coming up on the BBC will make more people aware of what happened. I have been giving talks on my great-uncle recently and virtually none of the audience had ever heard of the Laconia.

  5. Carol

    hello,
    My Grandfather, Frank Beardsall, was a baker on the Laconia – he did not survive – I was not born so never met my grandfather.
    Looking forward to the BBC dramatisation,
    Carol

  6. James Daly

    Hi Carol, thank you for your comment. I might be wrong but I think I can remember reading your Grandfather’s name somewhere in a book about the Laconia, I will have a look!

    James

  7. Carol

    hi James

    Yes – I saw my grandfather’s name listed in a book also.
    Do you know when the BBC are showing the drama – my father and I are looking forward to watching this very much?

  8. James Daly

    Hi Carol, I keep checking the BBC website for this, and so far all they have is ‘coming soon’ – as soon as I know I will post the time and date up here!

  9. Looks like an interesting programme. Good to see the Beeb CAN still produce quality.

  10. Pingback: The sinking of The Laconia...on BBC... - World War II Forums

  11. Jacques

    Greetings from Cape Town – I worked for about 20 days on the movie – conditions were hectic out on the sub – night shoots was long – the assistant director (and line producer Sebastian Werninger) an absolute PIG! Treated the extras on set like dogs. All in all, as bad as the experience was – lets hope the end product makes up for the days we had to spend on the ocean!

  12. James Daly

    Hi Jacques, thats an interesting insight.

  13. neil pendleton

    My great uncle Walter died in a lifeboat following the sinking of the Laconia. I have a group on Facebook about the Laconia dedicated to the memory of those involved in the incident. It would be good if relatives would look it up and add their relatives photos as a memorial; we are small so far but have had some relatives of Italian POW’s join as well as merchant seaman from Liverpool. Tony Large, author of one of the survivor accounts recently posted on the site. Look forward to seeing some of you on there Kind Regards, Neil

  14. James Daly

    Hi Neil, I’ve joined up – I expect i will get lots of interest once the programme airs on TV!

    James

  15. mick avery

    My uncle died during the laconia sinking, probably when it was torpedoed as he was 2nd engineer,his name was norman moir, he also was mentioned in one of the several books on this interesting story.

    • Adrian Moir

      Mick Avery

      i was interested to see your blog refering to Norman
      Moir being your Uncle.

      He was in fact my Grandad and was a 3rd junior engineer on board the Laconia.

      His brother Ronald was on the Queen Mary

      My father Normans son also an engineer for Cunard

      Please could you contact me as ive not heard on you before, the only Avery i think is from my Granmothers
      side Gladys

      my contact mobile no is 07944312302

      email address is adrianian.moir@googlemail.com

      regards

      Adrian

  16. James Daly

    Hi Mick welcome and thank you for your comment, its always interesting to hear people’s family stories.

    It looks like the upcoming Drama on the BBC is raising the profile of the Laconia Incident, I’m getting a lot of hits from Laconia-related searches at the moment.

  17. John Swift

    My grandfather, Edward James Burke of Sunbury Road, Anfield, was a steward on the Cunard Line and died when the Laconia was sunk. I was 2 at the time of his death ( he was in his sixties) and will be most interested to learn more about the reasons for the destruction of the ship and the incident generally. Thos Swift and Co were Master Porters and Stevedores in the Ports of Liverpool and Birkenhead from 1860.

  18. James Daly

    Hi John, welcome and thank you for sharing your family connections. I think the Laconia Drama has to be one of the most eagerly awaited TV programmes of the year, so many people have family connections with it, yet it is virtually unknown.

    From what I can gather, when she was torpedoed the Laconia was not zig-zagging, as was standard practise for avoiding U-Boats. Her old engines also belched out thick black smoke, which obviously made her very visible. She was on her own and not in convoy, as it was thought that she was fast enough to be too difficult to catch.

  19. Paul

    Hi James, in researching what happened to my Grandfather in WWII I discovered that he was lost at sea on SS Laconia. I have very little information other than his name was Gerald Brodrick, he was in his twenties and was a Stoker (Fireman). I have subsequently read a few books on the incident and now looking forward to the dramatisation.

    • Michelle Clarke

      Hi paul,

      this is a bit frantic, Laconia on tonight on BBC, great uncle gerald was on it. Search for him & it brought up this forum. Is your nan called Shelia & your dad kevin. If so would love to hear from you…. I would be you cousins daughter……..
      ps my nan geralds sister is still alive & kicking well….

  20. James Daly

    Hi Paul, thanks for your comment. Was he serving in the Royal or Merchant Navy? Depending on which you my be able to get hold of his service records. Naval service records are relatively brief, however. In terms of books, if you haven’t already I would definitely reccomend the book by Jim Mcloughlin.

    James

  21. Sonny McPherson

    Hi James; My grandad (James McPherson) was allso lost on the Laconia. He was badley wounded in the right shoulder in North Africa R.A.S.C and was being sent home. He was 45years old.His son Adam; my father allso served in the R.S.F., and just before his death in 2002; he told me how his CO, came and informed him’ that his father was lost at sea, K.I.A. My dad was just 18yrs old then.As my dad spoke his eyes weld with tears… Evan at 77yrs of age; he still struggled with the loss of his dad. Grandad allso served in WWI, And; recently we had our ANZAC day rememberance march in Australia, and i was proud to lay a reath in his Honer. I have all of his medals and records, telegrams sent to his wife (My Nanna) and his own Mother… I am very proud of my grandad… He is my Hero.. Cheers Sonny McPherson.

  22. James Daly

    Hi Sonny, thank you very much for sharing your story. I hope the new programme on the BBC raises the profile of the Laconia incident, it affected so many people. I hope you guys down under get to see it.

    James

  23. Graham Stanbridge

    James,My father aunt & uncle survived the sinking of the Laconia but there father&mother where lost.my grandfather was a serving british soldier returning to the UK with family.all three children are still alive with the oldest 80 years of age being my father.The family name is Stanbridge.The upcoming program will be very emotional for our family when it is shown eventually in australia.

  24. James Daly

    Hi Graham, thank you for sharing your story. I’m amazed by how many people the Laconia incident has affected.

    Graham and Sonny, if it takes a while to be shown down under, you will be able to watch it on BBC iplayer once it is shown over here. When it is available online I will post up links here.

  25. Sonny McPherson

    James; has anyone considered a wreath laying memorial on the site… Allso there is a surviveiing member still living in Tasmania.. He wrote a book on the sinking.. I will retrieve the book from my sister and let you know his name. I agree with Graham; it will be very emotianal… I have read a couple of books, and i had to put them down…awsome. Also James is there any way to attach photos ect… I dont know if Graham or anybody els knows; my grandads name is on memorial at Brockwood memorial in Surrey UK. There relitives could be there as well… Just google commenwealth war graves, and follow the prompts.. i like your site james, i will follow it with great interest..cheers mate.

  26. Gillian Uncles

    I have a friend who was a little girl aboard the ship when she was torpedoed. She was with her mother and father at the time.
    She has phoned a number given, asking for anyone with any information, and she has twice left messages, but alas, no reply forthcoming.
    If you would like her story, I know she will be only too pleased to tell you.

  27. James Daly

    Hi Gillian. I would be honoured to write about your friend’s story. I think its so important to find out what happened to the people who were on the Laconia, it would be such a shame if their stories were lost forever. And of course I have a personal connection with the Laconia that makes it all the more poignant.

    Feel free to email me via the ‘contact me’ button.

    Regards

    James

  28. sue wellstood

    I would just like to say that my mother who was an 11year old girl at the time has embrace the t.v drama with mixed feelings. someone got in contact with her and through them she has been in contact with another lady whom she was friends with as a child. This was wonderful for her as she has someone to share experiences with. We mustn’t forget though that many of the people who are still alive were small children at the time and lost parents and siblings and have had to come to terms with this over the years. I do hope that it has been dramatized with the compassion that the survivors
    deserve.

    • Hi Sue, I was living with my mother in a hotel in Cape Town in 1942 when a girl the same age as myself (11) came there, a survivor of a sinking. Not sure who she was with. She had been in a life boat and seen a baby die, or known of it. The name I have in my head is Susan but again it was long time ago. I have never forgotten our conversation, sitting on a wall outside the Regent Palace hotel…since pulled down. My name is Margaret Thomas (nee Hutchison) and spent 6 years of the war in Cape Town, ultimately returning to Britain. I wondered if your mother might have been that 11 year old girl? Did she return to Cape Town after being picked up?
      I live in Canada now and my email address is magmum80@hotmail.com if you, or she, would like to be in contact. I thought of this meeting after watching the TV series. I travelled twice during the war between East Africa, India and South Africa by sea..once in convoy but, thank God, was neveer torpedoed. I was interested to read how little notice was taken by the BBC of the survivors who have been written about on this forum.

  29. James Daly

    Hi Sue, thank you for your comment I think thats a very important point. My Granddad lost his brother – indirectly due to the Laconia incident – when he was very young, so it cant be easy for him to watch the programme. Even my Dad is conscious of the uncle that he never got to know. But I guess also if you multiply the thousands and millions of awful experiences that come from war, then we have a duty to learn from them and make sure that they never happen again.

    James

  30. Maggie Sloggett

    My dads uncle was a survivor of the larconia inccident. He was named Mech, Evan England and was from padstow. We found a diary of the days following the u-boat attack up until they were released from POW camp in casablanca,,

    he also served on hms valiant

    • James Daly

      Hi Maggie, that sounds like a very interesting diary, especially as so little is known about what happened in the camp in Morrocco. I think Jim Mcloughlin, who wrote and published a survivors story, was also on HMS Valiant.

      James

      • maggie sloggett

        I am going to copy his diary to my pc,, it is interesting. i’l keep you all posted :)

      • maggie Sloggett

        Hi James, took me hours but iv’e finally managed to copy word for word his diary and a 1000 word newspaper clippin, along with 2 photos of him. Mech 1st class evan england was also with two other serving gents from cornwall, Stoker p.o salt of Looe and Able seaman Geach of Foxhole. All is to see in my notes on Facebook. if anyone wishes to see it and they dont have Fb i can email, maggie

        • James Daly

          Hi Maggie, well done thats a nice piece of work, its a lot harder transcribing something onto computer than people realise!

          If anyone hasnt noticed, there is also a Laconia group on Facebook with loads of documents, pictures and other info. Anji Hartenstein – the daughter of Werner Hartenstein – has recently joined.

  31. Gillian Jones

    My parents, Douglas and Violet Logan, and elder sister, Helen, were survivors of the Laconia incident. My father was a corporal in the RAF and had a posting home. My sister, a baby of five months at the time, was pictured in my mother’s arms on the front page of the Sunday Pictorial as being the youngest survivor.

    On my parents fiftieth wedding anniversary they video recorded in graphic detail the events leading up to the sinking of the Laconia, their rescue, life in Camp Ayashi, Sidi el Ayashi, Morocco, being liberated by the Americans and their eventual separate arrival at the village of Ynysybwl, my father’s home.

    Both my parents have died, but my sister, Helen, gives talks about the incident to various organisations. She has done much research on the historic event and visits Germany to meet up with a group who share the same interest.

    Gill Jones (Helen’s younger sister)

    • James Daly

      Hi Gill, welcome and thank you for sharing your story. There are so many personal stories about the Laconia incident that are coming to the fore recently, hopefully the TV programme will raise its profile as at the moment its such a little-known story.

      James

  32. Margaret Lewis

    My Dad survived the Laconia incident too.
    Loking forward to seeing the programme

  33. Richard Jones

    My mum is Gillian Jones (see the post above) My Grandparents Douglas and Violet Logan and their baby daughter (my auntie) Helen were survivers of the Laconia.

    My Auntie Helen has made a short Arts Video for BBC Wales about the sinking and her subsequent life. Worth a look, copy the below address into your address bar.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/arts/yourvideo/media/pages/helen_charles_01.shtml

    Richard Jones

  34. Marco Pizzillo

    Hello, my grandfather was part of the Italian army, participated in the Battle of El Alamein, later captured by the British and transferred to Laconia in my profile I posted some photos on facebook of him during his military service, if there is any survivor would recognize. I read that the BBC will broadcast the film “The Sinking of the Laconia” but will not be broadcast in Italy, someone record this movie?

    email: pizzom@gmail.com

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=544511220

  35. James Daly

    Hi Marco, thank you for your message. You may be able to watch ‘The Sinking of the Laconia’ on bbciplayer after it has been shown on TV, I will try and find out and let you know.

  36. Jim Hanlon

    After reading and watching the documentary about the Laconia Incident I always hoped and prayed that someone would make a film about this tragedy.
    If the BBC do this correctly it could be a powerful weapon for the anti-war movement of the future. This story tells us everything that is wrong with war but it also teaches us that the human spirit can rise above it. In a strange but paradoxical way it gives us all hope. God bless to all the family’s who are still involved.

  37. James Daly

    Hi Jim, thank you for your very pertinent comment. I quite agree, the Laconia incident is exactly the kind of story that should make us all realise that we all have a common humanity between us that goes beyond any kind of division – politics, religion or whatever.

  38. Louisa Johnstone

    Hi, my name is Louisa Johnstone. I was so happy to see this site. I have been trying to find information on my uncle who died on a lifeboat as a result of the attack on the Laconia. His name was Thomas Lloyd (Tommy), he was in the RAF. All i know is there were several men in a boat and each promised that they would let each others families know what happened if they were not to survive. A man came to my grandparents home and did just that, he kept his promise, i wish i knew who he was. My grandfather kept the information to himself. If anyone has my uncle Tommy’s name in a journal or knows who this kind man was that visited my granparents in Surrey i would greatly appreciate the information. This is wonderful that we are able to have a site to share information and feelings of this incident that has made history. Thankyou. I now live in America and am womdering if this T.V. show will be coming here. I would love to see it. Thankyou so much. LOUISA JOHNSTONE.

  39. My grandfather AB Lancelot Hallwood served on and survived the sinking of the Laconia. He too is listed in at least one book with the crews manifest in the back and I believe is pictured in two separate ships crew photos in the book. Unfortunately he passed away when I was about 15 years old before I could talk to him about his experiences on ship. For years he suffered respiratory problems that he claimed it came from the asbestos pipe lagging damaged on the ship. What truth there is in that I don’t know, however I do remember he suffered and my lasting memories of granddad where his wheelchair trips to the pub.
    Looking forward to seeing how the BBC portray this event and hopeing my Mum gets to see some old footage or pictures of her Dad.

  40. James Daly

    Hi David, thank you for sharing your story. As you probably noticed my great-uncle was on the Laconia when it was sunk, and whilst he survived the sinking he didn’t survive the effects of captivity in North Africa. My grandfather worked for the Dockyard in the 50’s as a lorry driver and he later died from asbestosis after dumping asbestos ripped out of ships.

  41. Barry C

    My Father was on the Laconia and in one of the lifeboats that made it to north africa spent 32 days in open boat started with a full boat ended with just a few alive when they reached the coast.
    He was in the RAF and is now 92 years old and living in Boston Linconshire, he was on the SKY program that was done 10-15 years ago, and is supposed to be having a film crew vist him next Sunday 10/10/10.
    Any Idea when it is being shown.

    • James Daly

      Hi Barry thank you for your message. There’s still no clue as to when it will be on. It was originally supposed to be on in the spring and then got pushed back. There are a lot of people waiting for it, hopefully it will be soon. As soon as I find out when it will be on I will post up the time and date.

      James

  42. Brendan Brice

    My grandad was on the Laconia when she was sunk. He almost survived too – only dying a couple of days before the lifeboat made it to shore. Hopefully the BBC will announce the showing well in advance as I don’t want to miss it! Put’s the current economic woes into perspective!

  43. Alan Milne

    I was also a part of the shooting of the movie out on the ocean for 8 days on and off would desperately like to know when the movie will be shown or made available to get the true picture of what really happened.When you are an extra you dont get told in detail what the shoot is about you are just there to make up the numbers to get the job done because time is money even though they waste it like water you are just a porn and they let you know that all the time. I would appreciate an e-mail if possible with a screening date thanx in anticipation Alan

  44. Carol Aleknavicius

    the latest on the BBC dramatisation is that production will complete this month so hopefully we’ll see it soon!
    in the meantime I always visit the Merchant Navy memorial at Tower Hill every time I am in London. seeing Frank Beardsall’s name, my grandfather, never fails to move me.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/kesandcarol/Laconia?authkey=Gv1sRgCPznoPD-qMHAygE#

  45. audrey tiller

    i was on the laconia as a 13 year old girl and remember it well my father was in the RAF both him and my mother survived i remember the pantomine the children put on in the camp

  46. Maria Baker

    Our grandfather, Joe Brice was Master at Arms on the Laconia. He was mentioned as “the Irishman, no longer young” in the book “Atlantic Torpedo” written by Nurse Doris M Hawkins, SRN and published in 1943,
    who wrote a letter dated 22nd February 1943 to our grandmother Ellen Brice stating what he had done.

    Maria Baker and Dominic Brice

  47. Pingback: 2010 in review « Daly History Blog

  48. Colin MacNeil

    I was fascinated to hear that the BBC were doing a film about the Laconia, so I thought I’d do a google to see what info was around on it. My grandparents were good friends with Ben Coutts. I remember meeting him several times when I was younger, he wasn’t the prettiest of men, though one of the nicest. I found a photo of the chap portraying him in the drama. Oh dear! A bandaid across his nose?! I thought Coutts had most of his nose destroyed? This doesn’t bode well. And don’t get me started on this “actor’s” comments about Coutts on the BBC website. Posh, gentleman farmer indeed! Harumph!
    I will watch it however and try to be open minded about it, even though I get very narked about details in historical dramas.

    Rant over!

    Anyhoo, I shall keep an eye on this discussion as I think due to the many personal connections here that it will be fascinating to hear people’s opinions on the film and it’s depiction of an extraordinary time..

    Cheers

    Colin

  49. Eileen

    I am also interested in finding out more about this incident as I believe my uncle was one of the 200+ soldiers who lost their lives. Does anyone have a full list of all those who were on board?

    • Maria Baker

      Hi Eileen, there is a book called The Sinking of the Laconia by Frederick Grossmith and the ISBN No is 1871615682 and at the back of this book there is a list of all The Laconia Crew which spreads across 14 pages as it includes the Polish as well. It states whether the crew members were rescued or whether they were lost at sea. P.S my grandfather was on The Laconia and was Master at Arms and was lost at sea, he died in one of the lifeboats after drifting for 3 weeks but he isn’t listed in this book as he was originally down to go on another ship and at the last minute was asked to go on the Laconia.

      • Eileen

        Hi, Maria

        I think my uncle was a wounded soldier on his way back to England. His name was Warrant Officer II Francis Michael Looney, 1st Battalion, Bed & Herts Regiment. I would very much like to find out if lists of passengers include the British soldiers who, of course, weren’t actually crew members. We have his death certificate, and it looks like he died on 12th September when the boat was torpedoed by the U-boat.

        If anyone else out there knows anything else about any other Beds & Herts boys on the Laconia, I’d be glad to hear from them.

        Many thanks for your response!

    • Brenda Crook

      Frederick Grossmith’s book has a list of Laconia’s crew and some of the civilians, but not the servicemen on passage. A list of the Royal Naval personnel who were being transported on board can be found on the website http://www.naval-history.net but I have had no joy in finding the army casualties. I have found the IWM most helpful in my research – perhaps it would be worth contacting them? I would like to know whay so many service personnel were on passage – was it an evacuation from the proposed Operation Torch, or were they injured, or just needed for other operations in the UK?

      • James Daly

        Hi Brenda I looked in Grossmith’s book for my great-uncle without success. His service record however confirmed that he was on the Laconia, and his entry on the CWGC.

        I think the large number of servicemen on passage is simply a reflection of just how many men – and indeed women and children – were in places like North Africa, India, South Africa etc during the war. Remember that the Laconia picked up many passengers in South Africa too, people who were returning home from the Indian Ocean.

  50. Tony Leggett

    I wish to thank all of you contributors for your fascinating and moving stories. I hope Alan Bleasdale has taken survivors’ relative’s first hand accounts at face value to give us the true dramatic picture without ‘theatre’

  51. Rachael

    Hello,

    My grandmother and great grandmother were both on the ship and survived. My grandmother (molly Davidson) was 19 at the time and they have both been shown on the dramatisation. (they were separated in the lifeboats and ended up in the same submarine) their diaries have been used in previous publications and my grandmother was on the sky history channel documentary (about 15 years ago nearly). Really interesting to read everyone’s posts.

  52. Flora H

    I have no familial connection to the Laconia but I have been really touched by the story. I note that Peter says he has a full transcript of Doris Hawkins’ book – how would I go about getting a copy? Many thanks and fascinating to read all your stories – this is what the internet is great for. Flora

  53. Graham Calderbank

    Found the programme difficult to watch; facts not allowed to get in the way of the drama, I felt.
    Prior to watching I read a summary of events, taken from and quoting diaries, logs and personal accounts, and wonder how much research was done in the making of last nights show. “The Real Cruel Sea; the Merchant Navy in the Battle of th Atlantic 1939-1943″ by Richard Woodman, well worth a read for those who prefer history to drama. I spent a lot of years, 1965 to 1998, in the Merchant Navy, and served with many men who went through WW2, both MN and RN, listened to their stories, always without drama, just telling what happened them and their ships and shipmates, and admired them all.

  54. JILL GILLINGHAM

    Hi,James, i have just finished watching the bbc2 programme, i have read the doris hawkins account of the indident as she sent it to a gentelman that i worked for whose brother who was a ships doctor on the larconia, was on the same lifeboat as doris but did sadly died just before they sighted land. i found the account very moving, and look forward to seeing the survivors accounts being screened on saturday,

  55. a turner

    What happened to Officer Mortimer handed over as a prisoner of war??

    • Brenda Crook

      Frederick Grossmith’s book ‘The Sinking of the Laconia’ gives an account of the experiences of Third Officer Thomas Buckingham, and it appears likely that the character of Mortimer was based on him, Buckingham was a POW at Bremen until liberated on 29th April 1945

  56. joan sargent

    Hi it was very moving to see the 2 part movie, a relative of mine I think my great Uncle was a surviver of the Laconia he was Father Dunstan Sargent and had served under Kitchener he had been in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Egypt, I myself was in Afghanistan for 5 years and was interested in finding out about Father Dunstan Sargent I wonder if anyone remembered him. The story of the Laconia is inspiring.

  57. Thomas

    British-german propaganda about good decent Germans and bad cruel Poles.

    Wikipedia says:”The efforts of the Polish guards were instrumental in controlling the chaotic situation on board and saved many lives.”

    • James Daly

      That’s one element of the Drama that I was worried about… I knew that there were Polish Guards on the Laconia. The drama did portray them as being rather brutal, and I have never heard or read anything about them behaving like that. Particularly the one hulking great Pole who looked more like a gorilla than a Pole. Has anyone ever heard about the incident of the Poles beating up an Italian POW? If not, it is an unforgiveable fabrication.

      In terms of controlling the POW’s, sadly I have to say I don’t know what choice they had but to keep them restrained. 1,800 Italians running around would have caused chaos and hardly anyone would have survived. Its easy for us to look back now and cast judgement, but 1942 was a war situation, with difficult decisions and unpleasant consequences.

      • Isabella Ambroglini

        Dear James, restrained is an understatement. I cannot imagine any reason for having to board that number of POW’s on a single ship, having to handle them like animals, caged down like criminals. They were only young men in their 20s, full of life and loved. I lost one uncle, he was a very skilled and decent man, my mother’s brother. I posted it already on FB, I am lucky that my father was fortunate enough to be on another ship, no cages, no brutality. The words I read around, referred to our people on the Laconia are very lightly spent. The Italians may run around a cause chaos, then let us put them down in cages (600 per cage, so they will have good company). After all I read, I am sort of happy as I imagine my uncle’s cage did not open and he went down quickly, and was spared the sharks, the shooting, the axes, and passing out fast enough with his prayers, his tears disperding in the ocean.

  58. Alan Williams

    Hello I served with a chief officer in cunard his name was Buckingham and i belive he was a 3rd officer on Laconia and made a p.o,w after being taken of a lifeboat onto a u boat they thought he recognized the new radar on the conning tower, can any body confirm this.

    • jennyusa100@gmail.com

      Email: jennyusa100@gmail.com

      Message: hello i wondered if you could help me, my friend’s uncle was on the laconia, his name was thomas robert buckingham, my friend never know his uncle and he would like to find out further info about him. we know he was a 3rd senior chief officer and we just wondered if any one could tell us a bit more about him for e.g. is there any photos of him,how old was he, the date of birth and death, where’s he buried and is there any friends living, also we watch the sinking of the lacoina by alan bleasdale could any one tell us why if it was real why did the writers change his name to thomas mortimer and put him as jr officer. i would be really greatful if any one coud help with any info jenny usa

  59. Audrey Lecoustre

    Found the drama of the Sinking of the Laconia very moving but wonder if anyone who was sailing with the ship remembers my father-in-law Engineer Ivor Lecoustre, I would be very much obliged. Thanks again for all the comments that I have been reading, three cheers for the internet.

  60. elaine mcneil

    a relative jenny walker (maclachlan) and her 5 year old daughter Doreen were on board the Laconia sadly Doreen didn’t survive. does anyone have any information or know wher I can find info as my mother can only remember a little of the story as she was only 9 at the time. My mother was very disappointed iin the drama.

  61. Peter Derych

    My Dad was a Polish officer on the Laconia (sadly,he died 4 years ago; his memories would have put Bleasdale right!). We eventually persuaded dad to write a short book about his wartime ordeals, including exile to Siberia (literally living in a hole in the ground with his mum for a while), his 1500 mile trek alongside other Poles to join the re-formed Polish “army” at the Caspian sea, aswell as the shipwreck and his winning of the Virtuti Militari. Sadly all copies of the book are with friends & family but we are trying to find ways to re-print it.
    Dad’s account tells of no brutality by any Poles. Most Poles went to fight in North Africa, but those on the Laconia were mostly 18/19 yr olds who’d passed Oficer exams and taken to S Africa for training. This assignment was their first involvement and Dad remembers trying to prise open the grilles holding the Italians in place, to help them escape. It may be that in other parts of the ship people were being shot or hit, but there were no orders about what to do in the event of shipwreck, so I suppose the guards reacted differently according to gut instinct. However, my Mum was in tears for some time after episode 1 because of the way it portrayed the Poles in the film. We will be writing to the BBC; it was good drama, but if they want to do drama, they should ensure it is fictitious – if they want to recount a historical event, they should keep it accurate. There was not even any mention of the “Laconia Order” which Admiral Donitz sent to all U-boats as a result of this incident and which made it such a controversial event. He forbade all ships from helping survivors for the rest of the war, and was indicted for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials after the war.
    I hope these thoughts put the incident in context and help to balance things out. Peter Derych

    • James Daly

      Hi Peter thank you very much for sharing your fathers experiences. It sounds like he was a remarkable man, along with many of his comrades. Deep down I suspected that Bleasdale had been very shabby in his portrayal of the Poles. Sadly the Poles in British service have had a very bad press, right back to the smearing of Sosabowski after Arnhem, which to my mind was one of the most shameful incidents of the war.

      At the same time, we need to remember just how much the Poles had suffered at the hands of the Germans since they were invaded in 1939. I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say that due to their experiences most Poles in allied service had a slightly different attitude to the war and the enemy than most Brits would have.

      • Peter Derych

        Appendix – I’ve just remembered that a fuller account from my dad was posted on a BBC website in Feb 2004. You can visit it on bbc.co.uk/WW2People’sWar/stories. It was posted by a librarian who read dad’s book; the Beeb could have looked at their own sites for extra research!

        • x

          My sympathies to your mother. The completely incorrect, near hateful, portrayal of our Polish allies was disgusting. Unfortunately today’s BBC is more about representing the ideas and values of a left leaning political elite that is about representing the truth.

        • alberto magnani

          Mr. Derych: I’m an italian historian and I am working about Laconia sinking, so I’d like to know something more about the Poles. The books I read never speak of them as they speak very little of the italian POWs. Alberto Magnani

  62. john royal

    My name is John Royal — now retired at close to 90 and living in Melbourne, Australia. Early in 1939 I joined the R.N.V.R. in London and was called up when war broke out. I trained as a telegraphist and went to sea in the light cruiser HMS Enterprise in early 1940. I became friendly with another Telegraphist, Harold Wheeler who had also served pre-war in the volunteer reserve.
    The Enterprise saw operational service in the North Atlantic, Norway, the Med, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Singapore etc . In September 1942 we docked at Durban and Harold and I, having been recommended for commissions, were tansferred to the troop ship Laconia for onward passage ( as we thought ! ) to the UK for officer training. On the night of the Laconia sinking we managed to stay together and left the ship by walking down the steeply sloping port side of the hull. We realised we needed to get as far away from the ship and as fast as we could before she went down to avoid being sucked under. Harold was not much of a swimmer so it was a good opportunity for me to put into practice some of the life-saving techniques I had practiced at boarding school in the 30’s ! I guess we were in the water for an hour or more before we found a life boat prepared to let us climb aboard. At the helm was a tough old RN Petty Officer together with a couple of young seamen from the Laconia, an RAF Sergeant, Harold and I and about 20 Italian prisoners of war. Although they outnumbered us they were extremely docile and were obviously happy and relieved just to have survived. Little did we realise at that stage that they would prove to be a highly valuable life insurance policy. I won’t bore you with any further details of our time afloat. Suffice to say it wasn’t very pleasant — what with our very limited supply of water and food and the extreme heat from the equatorial sun by day and the chilly nights. But we survived — and on day 4, I think it was, we were hauled up on to the deck of one of the German U-boats and fed black bread and soup and a drink of water before being transferred again to our life boat which was then towed in line with other boats behind the sub. They told us on board the sub that a ship would be coming out from Vichy French Dakar to pick us up and on day 5 it arrived. Like the other allied survivors we were taken to Casablanca and interned in a German and Vichy French controlled prison camp. They dressed us in French Foreign Legion uniforms and, without razors, we all grew beards ! After about 10 weeks in the Medouina camp the Americans landed in N Africa and we were released – but not immediately back to the UK. The Americans had other ideas ( and no doubt a spare ship or two ) and after all, we were the first allied prisoners of war to have been released by the Yanks in WW2. So they whisked us on to a waiting empty troop ship and within hours we were back at sea heading for New York. The ‘ deal ‘ was — if they dry-cleaned our Foreign Legion uniforms would we agree to being paraded in a double decker bus through the streets of N.Y. How could we refuse ? But .. soon after the ticker-tape parade had concluded the dear old R.N. got wind of our presence and in next to no time we were re-kitted and popped back on yet another bloody troop ship which transported us home to the U.K. where Harold and I went on our respective courses, training to become officers and gentlemen in H.M’s senior service !
    We met up again at the end of the war in Sydney where we both decided to apply for our naval discharge in Australia. Through Harold’s uncle, a Sydney resident, I met my wife to be , Elizabeth, and, happily, 65 years on we are still together . Sadly, Harold, who, incidentally, was best man at our wedding, is no longer with us. He died far too young in the 1970’s.
    I spent most of my working life at the A.B.C. where I read news on both radio and TV and did a fair amount of commentary work in sport and major public events. My professional name was Martin Royal. When I joined in 1946 there was another news reader named John Royle. He was senior to me so the General Manager,( Sir ) Charles Moses told me to change my name. He wasn’t going to have two John Royals reading his news !
    Greetings and congratulations to all the other living survivors of the Laconia sinking from one lone old codger in Oz.
    Fare thee well,
    John Royal.

    A.B.C.)

    • James Daly

      Hi John, thank you very much for your fascinating account. You might have noticed from my account that my great-uncle Leading Stoker Thomas Daly was on the Enterprise from June 1940 until he boarded the Laconia in South Africa.

  63. Tony Large

    John Royal rises from the dead! Well I’ll be damned!I was sitting next to you in the naval messdeck of Laconia when the first torpedo hit. And, what with hurried exits by everyone in that large cavern, I lost sight of you.
    See my book ‘In Deep and Troubled Waters’ page 77, third last and second last paragraph. John Royal gets two mentions.
    I live in Ulverstone, Tasmania and will be coming to Melbourne in a few months time to go to the ‘footy’. We must meet.
    Phone me or email me! I’m in the book.
    Tony Large.

    • James Daly

      It’s great to see you guys making contact again after so many years!

    • john royal

      Heavens above … or something similar ! Remember you vividly and was greatly relieved when your amazing tale of survival hit the news-stands here some years ago now, of course. Is your book still available ? I must have it ! Can I have your email address ? Mine is : john.liz.royal@bir.net.au . When did you migrate to Tasmania ? So many questions . Answers soon, I hope ! Our youngest daughter Pam who has been an interested observer of today’s dramatic revelations has gone off to check on your phone number. She lives close by. We have 2 boys and 2 girls rapidly approaching middle age, 15 grandchildren and 10 great g’kids.
      In answer to your last query ; yes, we were in Enterprise on that occasion together with a couple of P class destroyers — Panther and Palladin, I think. More anon — without doubt !
      Cheers, JR.

    • Cathy Park

      Hi Tony,
      I am one of John Royal’s daughters and note with interest, among far more important things :), that you will be coming to Melbourne for the footy. Any chance (seeing that you are from Tassie) you are a Hawthorn supporter? Also any chance you have a relative Ian Large living in Woodend? Bless the Internet!
      Cathy Park

      • Tony Large

        Dear Cathy
        No to Hawthorn. Our elder son is a fanatic, however, from about the time he came off the breast half a century ago. I’m a Lion, a Fitzroy relic, who travelled north when the Roys went bust.
        English viewers will be scratcing their heads!
        Tony

  64. Tony Large

    John Royal again. Were you still in Enterprise on Easter Monday, 1942 when she fished me and several hundred other HMS Cornwall survivors from the sea? Japanese bombers had sunk us about mid-day on Easter Sunday.
    Cheers, Tony Large

  65. john royal

    Hi Tony,
    Hope you got my earlier reply. Am afraid I’m not too crash hot at juggling with all this latter day technology ! Pam ( my daughter ) has fastened on to a Facebook contact – name of Maggie Sloggett – who has posted an interesting diary account and pictures, some obviously taken by u-boat crew members. Maybe you’ve already seen them.
    Cheers, JR.

  66. Tony Large

    Just to let your subscribers know that the joy of Happy Endings is not entirely a thing of the past. I’ve just talked on the phone to John Royal for 30 minutes or so, our first words since the evening of Saturday, 12th September, 1942 when Laconia was torpedoed and our then conversation was rudely interrupted by the Germans
    John Royal and I shall be meeting again soon.
    Tony Large

    • john royal

      An amazing, heartwarming re-union, indeed. This story, of course, has a distinctive Australian flavour. Unbeknowns to either of us we both opted to settle here after the war. Happily, we both happened to have a fiddle on the internet … and , lo and behold , here we are – in touch with each other again after 69years ! Thanks to our facilitator, James Daly, by the way. Such deeds are worth their weight in gold.
      Cheers all, John Royal.

      • James Daly

        Dear John and Tony – I’m so glad that you managed to make contact again all this time, if helping this happen is the only thing my blog achieves then I will be very happy with that.

        Best wishes to both of you, and I’m sure everyone will join me in hoping you have a great time when you catch up again. Do keep us updated, its almost worthy of a newspaper article!

        Regards

        James Daly

        • Adrian Ryan

          Greetings James Daly, Iknow Tony Large and John Royal, surely the only 2 survivors of the Laconia in Australia. Both in previous lives, John (Martin) Royal reading the ABC national news on radio, and as a country pharmacist in Tas, Tony Large as a member of a nearby medical practice whose scripts I have dispensed. Ihope to attend the meeting in May in Plauen Germany of the ISCP and meet more like minded friends in person.
          Cheers. Adrian Ryan

  67. Colin MacNeil

    I just wanted to say well done to James Daly. You can be justifiedly proud of your blog and it’s part in bringing together, after such a long time, people who have shared such an incredible experience.
    Despite the Historical inaccuracies of the drama itself, it has been a catalyst for much good. From those survivors who are still around to those family who come after keep telling your memories, keep remembering the truth, keep the story alive.
    Hats off to Mr Daly!
    You’ve done good, sir.

  68. I am from Malaysia and speak 6 languages including elementary German. It is now (30th Aug 2011) being shown on private TV station for the first time and what an excellent and moving tribute to the recollection of the ‘Laconia’ incident.
    It is also fitting that the Nazis were all speaking in German which adds authenticity to the movie.
    By the way, you forgot to mention Franka Potente – that stunning German actress in your write-up !
    Carsten Chandra

    • James Daly

      Hi Carsten, glad you enjoyed it. I agree, it adds to the authenticity to have the German characters talking in German. As a by-product, it also helps those of us trying to learn German too!

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  70. Robert Hatto

    I am an unusual survivor of the Laconia sinking. My Mother, a Royal Nurse with the British Army, was being repatriated to the UK from Egypt. She was seven months pregnant with me at the time of the attack by U-156. I was born two months later at a Vichy French Internment Camp in Casablanca, and eventually reached home three months later. In view of the horrific scenes described in Patrick Duffy’s book “The Sinking Of The Laconia & The U-Boat War” I guess every year since has been a bonus for both of us. Sadly she died in 1996.
    Robert Hatto,
    Tasmania, Australia.

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  72. jennyusa

    MessName: jennyusa
    Email: jennyusa100@gmail.com

    Message: hello i wondered if you could help me, my friend’s uncle was on the laconia, his name was thomas robert buckingham, my friend never know his uncle and he would like to find out further info about him. we know he was a 3rd senior chief officer and we just wondered if any one could tell us a bit more about him for e.g. is there any photos of him,how old was he, the date of birth and death, where’s he buried and is there any friends living, also we watch the sinking of the lacoina by alan bleasdale could any one tell us why if it was real why did the writers change his name to thomas mortimer and put him as jr officer. i would be really greatful if any one coud help with any info jenny usa
    :

  73. I have just spent the past hour reading this entire page after watching the first half of the movie. I am so interested in all of your stories and so pelased many of you have been able to catch up after all these years

    • John

      Dear James,
      I am a television cameraman, and about 15 years ago I shot some material, including interviews with Dr Tony Large, to be used on The Discovery Channel, about the Laconia incident. I worked with a man from London, I think his name was Lionel, but I may be wrong. He had produced the video tribute to Princess Diana a couple of years before. Tony Large was one of the few survivors of the incident, and I couldn’t believe my ears as the story unfolded in front of my lens! I don’t know whether or not the doco was ever produced, or whether it even went to air. It may have been used as part of a larger production, but I never heard any more about it. Perhaps you have heard of this Discovery Channel involvement? The BBC dramatisation just went to air in Australia last week. Cheers! John.

  74. T9ny Oarge

    John. Good to ‘meet’ you again after 14 years. The producer’s name was Nigel Turner, an Englishman, and the film he made was indeed shown on free-to-air TV as an entity, not absorbed into a ‘film’. We thought your camera work was great!
    Tony

  75. Andy mc

    My grandfather was a steward on the Laconia, he refused to talk about the incident and took his memories to the grave, I would love to know if anyone has heard or knew him, his name was Edward ‘ted’ smith. I do know he survived the sinking and was in a life boat, that is all anyone knew, he was reported as killed in action to my nan at the time before she was to.d a few months later he had survived. If anyone can help with any info at all I’d be grateful.

    • my dad was on the laconia he was a butcher he was in a lifeboat he survived he live in wallasey merseyside he is 89years old if you whant to ring him hear is our number it is 200 9707 my dad is ted edward johnson this is one of his son my name is barry

  76. paul buckingham

    Uncle Bunny as he was known to family
    Does any one know why Alan Bleasdale called
    senior third officer Thomas Buckingham
    Mortimer?
    Why was the conning tower of U156 never mentioned?

    07956102821
    Regards Paul Buckingham

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