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Lakonia 50th anniversary: 6 December ceremony in Gibraltar

December 2, 2013 – 10:04 pm
The Lakonia commemoration ceremony will honour those who died when the cruise ship caught fire in December 1963.

The Lakonia commemoration ceremony will honour those who died when the cruise ship caught fire in December 1963.

Fifty years ago, a tragedy occurred which profoundly affected the inhabitants of Gibraltar, but which has been all but forgotten – until now.

December 1963: a Greek cruise ship, the TSMS Lakonia, is carrying hundreds of British and Irish passengers on a Christmas voyage to the Canary Islands. Off the Atlantic island of Madeira, on the night of 22 December, a fire breaks out onboard. Almost 100 passengers perish and many of their bodies are brought back to Gibraltar on a British aircraft carrier, HMS Centaur, arriving on Christmas Day.

Nearly 50 years later the maritime disaster is finally being marked with a plaque in Gibraltar Cemetery, where 13 graves of Lakonia victims remain – most were repatriated. On Friday 6 December at 12 midday the plaque will be officially unveiled in the presence of our own Managing Director, Chris Chaplow – it was a post on Andalucia.com’s Forum exactly five years ago which triggered the epic, 137-post thread, connecting victims’ relatives and friends around the world, with survivors and rescuers, each recounting their emotional memories and stories, and culminating eventually in a request for a memorial.

Guest of honour will be the Hon Steven Linares, the Gibraltar Government’s Minister for Sport, Culture, Heritage and Youth; and the plaque has been commissioned by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust, whose chairman Keith Farrell will host the ceremony. The memorial will be located on the wall by the main entrance of the North Front Cemetery.

Also present will be the Forum member who placed that first post – Benidorm, aka Gordon. He will bring his own personal recollections of his role as a 17-year-old in recovering the victims from the scene of the disaster, as so movingly related in the Forum thread. Other rescuers, as well as survivors of the tragedy, will also be attending, and all are welcome.

  1. 3 Responses to “Lakonia 50th anniversary: 6 December ceremony in Gibraltar”

  2. Fiona, Thanks for the update. We have now published the 50th Aniv Commem. Brochure ahead of the commemoration ceremony in Friday. You can download it here http://www.andalucia.com/image/photos/LAKONIA-50-ANIV-BROCHURE-WEB.pdf

    By Chris Chaplow on Dec 4, 2013

  3. Hi
    Unaware of your event, I had planned a “gathering” of (forty) Radio Officers of the Merchant Navy at the Irish Naval Service at Haulbowline,Cobh, Co.Cork.7th. December 2013.
    At this event, I took the opportunity to honour the work of Marconi Radio Officer, Patrick Gleeson of the M/T.”Montcalm” His story of the “Lakonia” was published in our Association book 2012. ” The Radio Officer Story — The Long Silence Falls 1900-2000……

    My friend, Pat and his wife and family reside in Limerick City,Ireland.

    Pat done a marvelous job on the December days of 1963 and I was delighted that he was honoured.

    Remembering all those who lost their lives and to those who survived and to their families.

    God Bless

    Sincerely on behalf of Patrick Gleeson.

    Colman

    Colman J. Shaughnessy, Vice- Chairman, Radio Officer Association. http://www.radioofficers.com

    By Colman J. Shaughnessy on Dec 17, 2013

  4. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/radio-officer-recalls-dramatic-rescue-50-years-ago-1.1635133?page=2

    Attached link. Radio Officer Patrick Gleeson of m/t “Montcalm” story.

    By Colman J. Shaughnessy on Dec 21, 2013

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