MORE VICTIMS, AND A SURVIVOR
Then, another forum member, Bernard, posted a message, looking for information about his grandmother, who had died on the Lakonia. He was unsure if she was buried in Gibraltar. Another poster, Muriel, told how her ex-husband had been serving on the Centaur, and had worked, like Gordon, at unloading the bodies in Gibraltar. Two members reported relatives working on the aircraft carrier at the time of the tragedy; another recalled seeing the Lakonia at Tilbury Dock as a young boy, in the early 1960s. In addition, Gordon was contacted personally by the children of another victim. They had no first-person account of the scene of the disaster where their father had lost his life, and they told Gordon that his letter, about his memories of what happened that night, "was written as if it was from their father", and that he had used words and terms that their father had always used.
Then came an extraordinary development. Another forum member, Margaret, revealed that her husband, Philip was one of the survivors. He was on the Lakonia with two friends, one of whom survived, but the other perished (they found his grave in Gibraltar). Philip had spent five hours in the water, having been one of the last to jump ship. Margaret told how Barbara's father, the ship's doctor, had looked at the passenger list to see if there were any fellow Irishmen, and had contacted Philip and his friends on the ship.
In May this year, nearly four years after the thread was started, in yet another amazing turn of fate, Gordon happened to hear a programme on BBC Radio (from 33min 20sec to 45min 10sec) about the Lakonia, which featured an interview with surviving passenger Owen Luder, who survived along with his wife and two children.
It's safe to say that when he first posted a request for information about this acutely human story, Gordon never could have dreamed he'd make contact with so many people involved in this terrible tragedy. Both Gordon and Barbara said that they had found the forum very comforting. Barbara is campaigning to have a commemorative plaque for the victims erected in Gibraltar.
Throughout the thread, an integral, interactive part of andalucia.com, many other members commented that this story was a perfect example of the positive power of the internet - bringing together people intimately connected by the past, yet who would never have found each other, and allowing them to share deeply personal details which have helped them immensely to deal with their own private grief.
The thread continues, and no doubt more intriguing and moving stories about the Lakonia will come to light.