The Sinking of the Lancastria by Jonathan Fenby
The Twentieth Century's Deadliest Naval Disaster and Churchill's Plot to Make It Disappear

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews



On June 17, 1940, just after the Dunkirk evacuation had supposedly ended in success, several thousand of the many British troops still left in France boarded a five-decked cruise liner called the Lancastria. Right after they boarded, the ship was dive-bombed by the German Luftwaffe, and a short time later the 17,000-ton Lancastria sank. German fighter planes strafed the oil slick sea, setting it ablaze as British troops banded together singing “Roll Out the Barrel” in the hopes of mustering any hope that still remained. In the end, with 4,000 soldiers, women, and children dead—with some estimates as high as 6,000—the disaster would eclipse that of both the Lusitania and the Titanic.

Although the story was picked up in the United States a few weeks later, it was reported only once by any British news outlet, and as the war progressed the tragedy eventually vanished. Author Jonathan Fenby argues that this was the result of a ruthless but necessary kibosh put in place by Winston Churchill in order to preserve British morale. Through firsthand interviews with survivors, some of whom had never spoken about it to anyone until being interviewed for this book, Fenby reconstructs the entire tragic saga.

About Jonathan Fenby

See more books from this Author
Jonathan Fenby is a former editor of the "Observer" and the" South China Morning Post", and is a former bureau chief in France for the" Economist" and "Reuters." He is the author of ten books, including the acclaimed biography "Chiang Kai-Shek: China s Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost" and "The Sinking of the Lancastria", which tells the story of the greatest disaster in British naval history. He was made a commander of the British Empire and a knight of the French Order of Merit for services to journalism. He lives in London.
Published April 28, 2005 by Carroll & Graf. 320 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Sinking of the Lancastria

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

So much was going wrong at the time—France was suing for peace, invasion forces were massing on the other side of the Channel, the Luftwaffe was clearly getting ready to bomb British cities—that he feared for the British spirit.

| Read Full Review of The Sinking of the Lancastria...

Historical Novel Society

It is not widely known that after the Dunkirk evacuation 150,000 British servicemen remained in France, mainly second-line troops stationed around Nantes and cut off by the German advance further north.

| Read Full Review of The Sinking of the Lancastria...

Reader Rating for The Sinking of the Lancastria

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review