Four survivors of the Lakonia disaster told us about their memories of the fateful night when the Greek-owned cruise ship caught fire, with the loss of over 100 lives. These three men and one woman, some children at the time and some adults, all have very clear recollections more than half a century later. Their stories are, by turns, moving and hair-raising. In most cases, they were lucky to survive where others did not.
"We were in the lifeboat for 10 hours - it had no oars or engine."
John Hynes, Irish, aged 19 at the time, was a medical student, and was travelling with his family - parents, brother and two sisters, plus nanny, all of whom fortunately survived. More>
"I thought we wouldn't have to leave the ship, which is why I had a few drinks in the bar."
Phillip McGovern, Irish, aged 34 at the time, was a vet travelling with two fellow Irishmen, one of whom, Enda McGuire, sadly perished, and whose grave is in the Gibraltar cemetery. The third of the group is Owen Burke, now aged 92. More>
"My stepfather jumped into the sea and I thought I'd never see him again."
Carol Woolnoth, English, aged 10 at the time, was travelling with her mother and stepfather.
"There was chaos among the crew - they unrolled the hoses, attached them, and then when they turned them on, nothing came out. The ship looked fine on the surface, but its faults were covered with a layer of paint; the lifeboats' cables were rusted, but had been painted over. The crew had to hack at them to get the boats down. George Herbert, the Entertainments Director, did a great job of organising the women and children into the boats. More>
"I felt I was going to go under, when I heard a voice saying, "My name's Tony, what's yours?"
Joseph Benveniste, Greek-English, aged 21 at the time, was the hairdresser on board the ship. The fire started in the hairdressing salon (though nothing to do with Joseph - it was caused by an electrical fault). More>