TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby anne murat » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:46 pm

I was one of two nursing sisters on board the Lakonia together with Dr Vesiroglou. My future husband whom I met on the Lakonia was one of the pursers on board. He swam and saved the life of one of the passengers a Mrs Wilkinson, who unfortunately lost her husband. He maybe buried in Gibraltar. It was a terrible disaster. I was picked up from 8 hours in the sea by a sailor called Bernard Purcell one of the crew from the Montcalm, half dead ! If only I knew about this ceremony you are having on the 6th December, I would have been there.! but it is too late ! I will be thinking of you all there tomorrow. How would I be able to get a memorial brochure if there is one ? Happy ending for me, as I married the purser George Murat, and had three lovely children, all adults now of course with children of their own.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby andalucia » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:54 pm

Anne,

So sorry you can not be with us in Gibraltar tomorrow, but thanks for timely sharing this important information with us. We shall ensure you message is read out tomorrow.

At least there will now be plaque for those that stumble upon this thread in the future.

According to our list of burials
http://www.andalucia.com/history/tsms-l ... urials.htm
Walter Wilkinson was buried in North Front in Gibraltar but repatriated in 1965.

You can download and print a brochure here
http://www.andalucia.com/image/photos/L ... RE-WEB.pdf
or send Holly your postal address in an email, like you did when you joined the forum just now, and she will ensure you receive a copy.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby andalucia » Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:37 pm

Hi members of the forum,

Gordon and I, are pleased to report a very successful 50 year anniversary ceremony this morning at North Front Cemetery.

A series of photographs have been posted on the andalucia.com facebook page.
Here is a link
https://www.facebook.com/andaluciacom

and also on Twitter
https://mobile.twitter.com/andalucia_com

https://mobile.twitter.com/search?q=%23lakonia50&s=typd

We then made a visit to the Garrison Library to view copies of the Gibraltar Chronicle of the day.

Three survivors from the ship joined us with their family and friends for a grand afternoon tea at the Rock Hotel.

I am sure we will post more reflections to this thread in due course.

All the best,

Gordon and Chris from the Rock Hotel.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby BENIDORM » Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:47 am

Friday 6th December,2013 will be a day that will be forever in my memory.

I had very mixed feelings and emotions about attending the ceremony but with the support given by my wife Pauline and our good friends Bob and Jane it turned into a most memorable and special day for me and I hope for everyone else who attended.

A very special time for me was when I was able to meet and talk with the three survivors who were able to attend along with their lovely families.
Carol, Philip and John ( the survivors ) gave most vivid and moving accounts of their escape from the burning inferno of the doomed ship' Lakonia',and they were able to talk and renew friendships with each other and I'm sure that they were able to achieve great comfort from this.
For me, personally meeting the survivors filled a gap in my mind and heart where previously I only had visions of people who had perished on that fateful day,50 years ago.
I left Gibraltar that day feeling much calmer and at peace with the tragic event that I had witnessed so many years ago, and that was made possible by the people at the ceremony who showed so much understanding and care and compassion to all concerned.

I have to express sincere thanks and gratitude to all of the people involved with making this day possible, especially Keith Farrell of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust who personally guided me around the graves of the victims.

And a Very Special Thank You to Chris and Michelle Chaplow of Andalucia.com who showed such great professionalism and care and understanding to everyone and made this special day possible.

Best Wishes to Everyone,
Gordon and Pauline Holme.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby PerryBarr » Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:31 am

It was an honour to attend this ceremony with Gordon & Pauline, we hope to hear from more people touched by this tragic event, and maybe like Gordon some peace can be achieved.
Thank you to everyone involved it was an occasion that will stay deep in our minds.
Jane & Bob

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby shadowmother » Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:54 pm

For those who were unable to attend, I would just like to say what a very moving and emotional day it was on Friday. There are photos on Andalucia.com Facebook page. It is wonderful to have the commemorative brochure prepared by Andalucia.com and I am truly grateful for the efforts they have made to have this plaque installed. I was very lucky to discover this forum just in time to be able to attend the ceremony.

I am a survivor of the Lakonia, I was 10 years old when the disaster happened and I was called Carol Shaw then. I was able to go and met Philip McGovern, and John Hynes both TSMS Lakonia survivors. Gordon Holmes, (aka Benidorm), who was a rescuer and instigator of this forum thread, was also there and I was very pleased to be able to share the day with them.

Thank you to all those who made this day possible, Gordon, of course, and Keith Farrell; Chair of Gibraltar Heritage Trust, and Chris Chaplow, founder of Andalucia.com.

I know I am correct in saying it was a very meaningful day for those of us who were involved in the tragedy and those who wish to visit the North Front cemetery and view the remaining graves will now be able to see the memorial plaque too. The plaque was blessed by representatives of the Church of England, Roman Catholic and Jewish faiths.

Due to the arrival in Gibraltar of the Governor, the The Hon Steven E Linares, Gibraltar Minister for Sport, Culture, Heritage & Youth was somewhat delayed but did manage to join us at the plaque.

It has decided me that I must write my personal account of what happened to me and I will share this on the forum when it is done. I cannot believe that almost 50 years have passed since the events of the 22nd/23rd December 1963.
I was rescued by the British cargo ship, the Montcalm and taken to Casablanca. I am retracing my steps on a cruise this Christmas which will take me both to Casablanca and to Madeira this time, I hope!
John, if you are reading this post, dont forget to call to arrange to have dinner together before you go home. Now that we have made contact, we must keep in touch.

Carol

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby GeneGenie » Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:36 pm

Hi all,
I'm a newbie but am desperate to jump in here,
Until a few days ago I knew nothing of the Lakonia (or so I thought). My ten year old son had been doing some topic work about a ship that sank 50 years ago after a dreadful fire.
I didn't pay much attention to what he was telling me (bad mum I know) I have Fibromyalgia and am strongly medicated for the pain I in and had a lot of Oramorph that particular day.
It happened seven years before I was born but that night, when I couldn't sleep for the pain I was in, I came across this forum an read all I could.
I saw the surname Wilkinson mentioned, I became more interested as since I was a child, I had been told about my great Uncle Roy Wilkinson, part owner of Cadwell Park motor racing circuit (along with his brothers and sister), who had been aboard 'a' foreign foreign cruise ship with a His wife, My Great Aunty Bish (shortened form of Elizabeth) and their two sons when fire broke out. The children were locked in their cabins whilst their parents dined. The boys died from either the fire or smoke inhalation, they were approx 6 and 8 years of age and called Peter and Simon. (My Aunty recalls playing with the boys in their Grandma and Grandads orchard at Mount Pleasant in Louth. The Wilkinson's all came from Louth in Lincolnshire and as well as part owning Cadwell Park (a favourite place amongst fellow bikers like myself prior to my fibromyalgia), Great Uncle Roy was a millionaire estate agent who went to live in Banbury, then moved to Guernsey and then all the way to Vancouver where they went on to have another child, daughter.
I know from my own Aunty who I'm particularly close to. She seemed under the impression that the fire was started by a cigarette whereby I have since read it was faulty wiring.
Thank you so much to Benidorm for everything on here. You're an absolute star. If I hasn't asked my Aunty the name of the ship which my great a Uncle & Aunty were on, as I looked through online lists, I'd never have found that my sons topic was coincidentally linked to the family as I had always assumed 'their' ship to be much longer ago.
I shall have a time out and reflection over Christmas.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby Margo » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:17 pm

We're just getting back to normal now after our very memorable visit to Gibraltar last week.

Firstly, can we say thank you to you Gordon, both for making the event on Friday happen, but also for giving a very eloquent and moving account of your part in the recovery operation. We are glad to hear that the recent event has brought some peace to you. By starting this thread, you have brought a lot of people together and allowed others to add to the story on Andalucia.com.

It was also great to see Carol meeting John, a pure coincidence, considering she had made friends with his sister on board the Lakonia. Carol, we hope the cruise goes well for you and look forward to hearing about it.

All this could not have happened without Chris and Michelle Chaplow, both with this site and also their organisation of the brochure and time they spent putting it together. It is much appreciated and a big thank you for all you've done. Finally, thank you to Keith Farrell, of Gibraltar Trust for his time and efforts with the plaque and on the day.

Philip is delighted he went and glad to have met everybody to share their stories. He has been going over the events since.

We will keep watching Andalucia.com!!

Regards to everybody.

Margaret and Philip

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby GeneGenie » Sat Dec 14, 2013 4:45 pm

It sounds as you had great 'reunion' if you can use that term. So pleased many of you had closure by making the journey.
Sadly I only had just found out of the Lakonia's family link a few days prior to my message above. I had read through the forum for my son for additional information as I always like to compare info- such as my deceased mother said it was electrical and my aunt thought to be a cigarette caused it but she was only 8 herself when it happened as she lost her playmate cousins. It was all family chatter and horror at the time. For example, I'm 43 now but my mother when alive NEVER put any lights on our Christmas tree and when I asked why, she replied 'they cause fires', so maybe that stuck in her mind even though she would've been 23 when it happened.

I have just received my bargain book by Geoffrey Bond called Lakonia. I got a bargain used Hardback for just £4.38 including post but as I'm sharing it with my dear Aunty who have me the information and my 10yo sons school topic is looking good. So proud of him although he's tearful when he thinks of Peter and Simon dying in their cabin.
I doubt any child from his class will go to sea, and yet he was eager to join the local sea cadets, he has now changed his mind. No idea why their class are working on it. I think the teacher maybe has an interest plus the half centenary of the sinking.
It's certainly struck something within me of wanting to find out more and more plus this forum shall be read many times by myself .

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby andalucia » Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:22 pm

Hi there,

We are pleased to report that the Lakonia hairdresser Joe Beveniste and wife Vivian, visited the Andalucia.com offices this week. Joe recounted his story of that fateful night. Naturally he was disapointed to have missed the plaque unveiling having only just discovered this thread. Joe showed us his large collection of newspaper cuttings form the day. He was rescued from the sea by the Montcalm and taken to Casablanca.

We have now prepared a short video of the ‘TSMS Lakonia disaster’ 50 year anniversary plaque unveiling which took place on Friday 6th December 2013 , 12pm, North Front Cemetery, Gibraltar.
View the video on our blog posing here

http://blog.andalucia.com/?p=12799

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby GeneGenie » Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:48 am

Having quiet time before more sleep.
Just thinking of everyone who was on board TSMS Lakonia, 50 years ago on this grim evening and the events unfolded as smoke was noticed from the hairdressers. Thinking of not only those who lost their lives but also those who escaped but were mentally scarred. The rescuers who were amazing. Especially thinking of 2 special little boys who aged 6 & 8 had everything to live for but sadly had their lives taken. I hope to find out someday if they perished in the fire or by smoke inhalation but what a crap price to pay for going to bed early like good little boys.
This has affected me far deeper than I initially thought.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby Mummies123 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 5:11 pm

Today is a very special day for all the family as my husband Joe was flying home from Casablanca
50 years ago after surviving the Lakonia ship disaster
He was the manager of the hairdressers 21 years old
We only just found out about this wonderful forum . And so sorry did not know about the ceremony
We where made so welcome by Chris at Andalucian Forum .We hope in the future to be be able to make contact with survivors .
My husband was saved on the Montcalm after jumping into the sea and spending 5 hours in the water .he began to feel very weak as he had swallowed so much water .A miracle happened and someone called Tony swam by my husband side and saved his life as the next thing he knew he was on the deck of the Montcalm having had his stomach pumped out
We have tried for years to find the person called tony unfortunately no luck
Anyone who would like to make contact please send message

Vivian &Joe Benveniste

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby GeneGenie » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:21 am

Hello Mummies123,
I'd like to find out any family information too but only knew anything at all about the family connection at either the end if November or beginning of December. I think that with two young boys from my family losing their lives that the fire has never been discussed and the family seem to know what is in the public domain, but I want more.
Sadly afaik the Uncle & Aunt have now passed away after retiring to Vancouver (They were English, he was originally from Louth in Lincs)
I'd love to find a list of survivors. I'd like to know how they were rescued. I don't think Wilkinson is a common surname. I did come across it on this forum but that was a lady whose husband had died.

I hope @mummies123 that you find who saved your husband on that night. I hope they're still alive too. This forum is definitely the best. I was amazed when I started reading some stories, I almost imagined myself in the thick of it but that's the theatrical side in me. :wave:

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby BENIDORM » Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:09 am

It is interesting to note more people now coming forward with stories of personal and family involvement in the 'Lakonia' incident.
For me the last piece of my 'jigsaw' quest has been put in place and I'm really grateful for the help given by everyone in achieving this, however I can see that this will be very much an 'ongoing' story, and I do hope that all concerned will eventually find the answers to their questions.

Good Luck to 'Lostatsea', Genegenie and Mummies123 and anyone else researching connections with the "Lakonia".

On Christmas Day I sat down to dinner with friends at the exact time that HMS Centaur arrived in Gibraltar with the 'Lakonia' victims,I didn't mention it to anyone at the table, but I had a quiet moment of reflection and remembered the event, and I have to say that I felt much more at peace with my thoughts than previous years.

Today I've just watched the report about a fire on a North Sea Ferry, luckily dealt with very quickly, but it does emphasize the necessity to be always watchful and vigilant when traveling , not worried or scared..just be aware.

May I take this opportunity to Wish Everyone a Happy, Safe and Prosperous Year for 2014.

Best Wishes,
Gordon Holme.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby GeneGenie » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:19 pm

Many thanks for your reply Benidorm. I've been fascinated reading your posts on here. I have been quite disturbed by the Lakonia and with the 50 year 'anniversary' of her going down.
I don't suppose I will find what I'm looking for. I think you opened the chapter and now it has closed. If only I had known sooner and not found out the horrors from my 10 yo son with verification from my aunty that the Lakonia was THE ship.
I was very worried with the North Sea Ferry but thankfully the fire was out within 15 minutes with no loss of life.
Good luck and much love to you Gordon and I thank you for all of your information.
All the best for 2014. I hope it brings you good health and happiness.
:wave:
Genie x

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby shadowmother » Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:06 pm

For the information of all those I met at the memorial plaque unveiling and anyone else interested on the forum, I promised to look into the possibility of Lakonia victims in a Casablanca cemetery. I was taken to Casablanca by the Montcalm and I know that there were quite a few dead brought to Casablanca on this ship but have never known what happened to them.
Sadly, I have still no news, as the British Consulate in Rabat, (Casablanca consulate only deals with trade matters apparently), could not give me any information at all and passed my enquiry on to the current Chaplain of Casablanca but I have not even heard from him.
As many of you know I have just taken a cruise over Christmas to the canaries and found it very spooky to discover that we were sailing towards Madeira almost to the hour, 50 years after the Lakonia disaster. It was very odd to be eating dinner on 22nd December and go to bed normally afterwards about 8 hours sailing from Madeira. I am delighted to report that we arrived in Funchal the following morning without incident and I confess to being somewhat emotional upon discovering that all was well when I woke up.
If I do find out any more about Casablanca I will post results but it does not look promising, I have to say. All good wishes for 2014
Carol

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby GeneGenie » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:05 am

Interesting Carol,
I think I'd have been petrified though. Even the North Sea Ferry incident has put me off going on a ship of any kind. My Husband plans to take me away next christmas but I won't fly, won't go under the sea and now I won't go over either. I've suggested we hire a camper and stay in the UK.
I have no idea where the Wilkinsons of my family ended up, either the parents as survivors or their sons who lost their lives.
It appears my family only know what is already out in the public domain, although my aunty thought it was started by a cigarette, she was closest to them as the boys were her cousins.
I was never told much about this, not the ship name/year or anything. My ten year old son came home with that information from school so I asked my aunty if it was 'the one'.
My mother, who I no longer have dealings with (long story) always gave us a cr4p Christmas as children (a sister and myself) but the Lakonia was just 7 years before I was born yet of assumed many years earlier. We never had a pretty tree as 'lights cause fires', she just wasn't bothered about the niceties that friends had, everything was an effort, now I wonder if the Lakonia was the cause for that. She is emotionally repressed so I gave up on her years ago but I do think, maybe it screwed her up as she was close to her uncles, inc the one who lost his sons.
Oh well... I'm not likely to ask her anything now and it would be nice to know more. I've not had much chance to read my Lakonia book over christmas, plus my favourite chihuahua decided to have a nibble of it's corner while it was tucked at the side of my mattress :crazy:

Wishing 2014 a successful year to all the Lakonia information hunters. The 50 year anniversary brought about information I never knew (from my youngest son) but I found this forum at what seemed to be a time of closure and it saddens me.

Love to all
Genie

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby Margo » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:33 pm

Hello All

Now that the Christmas season has ended and a new year has started, we'd like to wish everyone best wishes, peace and good health for 2014.

We have been reading all the recent posts and it's interesting to continue to hear new stories such as those from Genegenie and Mummies123. It's great that the thread is here for those people coming across it now so that they can share their own story. Hopefully more will continue to come forward.

Gordon, good to hear Christmas went well for you. And Carol, nice to hear about a positive ending to your cruise although I'm sure retracing the steps at the exact time made the 50 years melt away. Thank you for updating us.


Happy New Year

Margaret, Philip and family.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby andalucia » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:45 pm

Hi there,

Fional our editor has written interviews with John Hynes, Carol Woolnoth and Philip McGovern, and Joseph Benveniste the Hairdresser.

You can find them here
http://www.andalucia.com/history/tsms-l ... tories.htm

Sorry to read Corol did not have much luck in Casablanca.
The forum has a new member who, I hope will post shortly, some photos of Lakonia graves in Maderia.

best wishes for 2014 to all forum members.

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Re: TSMS Lakonia Disaster.1963

Postby BENIDORM » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:14 am

Just a quick message to mention that I have had another 'family' contact me regarding the 'Lakonia' incident.
Apparently their parents where on the Lakonia and successfully rescued, unfortunately they have both now 'passed away', but the family knew most of the details about the incident.
They have already made the trip to Gibraltar to visit the graves and view the commemorative plaque and they stated that it was a very moving experience, and they added that they wanted to pass on their thanks and appreciation to everyone involved in the ceremony and research etc..

Regards,
Gordon.


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