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On This Day - June 17

1930Proteus (N29)Completed
1940LancastriaGreat Britain suffered its worst maritime disaster when German Do. 17 tactical bombers sank the troopship LANCASTRIA, Captain Rudophe Sharpe, Master, during Operation AERIAL, the evacuation of troops from Saint Nazaire, France.

LANCASTRIA was a converted Cunard liner. She arrived off St. Nazaire at 0400 on 17 Jun and anchored in the Charpentier Roads. Destroyers and other craft were used to ferry people out to the troopship.

An estimated 6,000 servicemen and a number of civilian women and children when onboard, although some reports indicate that as many as 9,000 people may have been in the ship when it was hit by four bombs at approximately 16:00.

One bomb was a direct hit, which went down the ship's large single funnel and exploded in the engine room. The ship capsized at 16-15 and sank soon afterwards. The bomb explosion in the engine room ruptured one of the ship's bunkers and flooded the sea with heavy fuel oil, making rescue operations extremely difficult.

Fewer than 2,500 people survived.

The large liner ORONSAY was also bombed but she remained afloat and reached port safely.

News of the disaster was suppressed by the British Government because of the impact it might have had on the country's morale. It was announced over a month later.

Captain Sharpe survived the sinking and went on to become the master of the liner LACONIA. He was with her when she was sunk on 12 Sep 42 by U-156, KptLt Werner Hartenstein, CO, off the coast of West Africa. Captain Sharpe was among the more than 2,000 lost in this event, making it the second worst British maritime disaster.
1944Stoic (P231)HMS Stoic sinks two small Japanese sailing vessels with gunfire and demolition charges off Penang.
1944Truculent (P315)HMS Truculent sinks a Japanese sailing vessel with gunfire in the southern part of the Malacca Strait.
1944Universal (P57)HMS Universal torpedoes and sinks the German merchant Canosa off Cassis, southern France.
1945Taciturn (P334)HMS Taciturn sinks a Japanese sailing vessel north of Surabaya, Java, Netherlands East Indies.
1945Thorough (P324)HMS Thorough sinks a Japanese trawler and a Japanese sailing vessel off Surabaya, Java, Netherlands East Indies.

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