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Thread: The Sinking of the Laconia

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    Senior Member John Doh's Avatar
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    Default The Sinking of the Laconia

    I'm curious about the lack of comment here about Alan Bleasdale's drama (See separate Thread). Kong has voiced his very negative views there, but it might be interesting to see what other opinions and memories can be offered on this topic by other old sea-dogs (and others). Alan himself believes that the story was so embarrassing to all the nations involved that it's been conveniently forgotten by everyone.

    There's a documentary on BBC2 tonight at 7.30 pm on the event that has the testimonies of six of the survivors that might be worth comparing with the drama.

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    Captain Kong captain kong's Avatar
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    Hey JD, CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT A VERY NEGATIVE VIEW IS????????????????

    I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE WHICH IS SOMETHING YOU SEEM TO BE LACKING.

    Everyone is entitled to his view, as all film Critics do and in this one Bleasdale was certainly out of his depth on seafaring matters. As I said, the story was already written in all the Reports, all Bleasdale had to do was to write a credible story line to link the characters in a credible situation. This he clearly failed to do, so just in case you failed to understand.

    Here is like wot I wrote.....................

    I and all the Seafaring men on the Merchant Navy site thought the film was rubbish. The story is indeed a true one, I wrote a Bio, for "some one`s" book on `Cunard Captains since 1838`, on Captain Sharpe who perished, He had survived the sinking of the Lancastria where between 4 and 9,000 men died. That is only an estimate. There were no records of the number of people on board, I sailed with `Nutty` Curran, a well known Liverpool boxer and ships Fireman who survived, he said they were all told and had to sign the OSA not to tell anyone anything about that disaster.
    So I did know the true story.
    But Bleasdale should get his facts right. He obviously knows nothing of Seafaring, when he writes about the Sea he is clearly out of his depth, even the way seamen speak, the way a ship operates, and the markings of rank on an officers uniform.
    I saw a man described as a Junior Third Officer, He would probably have been a senior Cadet. He had three gold stripes on his uniform, a Junior Third would have only one thin stripe. He has a Red badge with two crossed anchors on his left sleeve, and three brass buttons on each cuff of his jacket, He had more decorations than a Japanese Admiral.
    The Chief Officer had two and a half stripes, he would have three. The Third Officer traditionally does the 8 to 12 watch in the evenings, and is certainly not permitted to enter a lady passengers cabin. This guy who should have been on the Bridge on watch is in a lady`s cabin and is actually baby sitting for her while she goes to the bar and dance. Unbelievable. He also went into the lady`s cabin and rooted through her personal effects on her cabinet while she was out, then she came in. This is a serious offence for an employee of Cunard to do, He would have been sacked from the Company, if the events to come did not happen. The way the "scouse" fella was speaking was nothing like I have ever heard any "scouse" seaman speak. also what was he doing dragging an Itie POW through the passenger accommodation?. The Radio Officers, who are the only true `Officers` on a ship are all wearing RN ratings uniforms. They were employed by Marconi Company.
    The Commander of the Sub and a couple of his men must have climbed down into a dry dock and walked past a newly painted modern ship with a bulbous bow, [ these did not come in until the 60s] and then would have had to climb out of the dry dock to get to their submarine. Why would they do that?? The Submarine then pulled of the quay and was about thirty feet off when the Engineer phoned the Captain to say the engines were now ready, unbelievable.
    Lifeboats, there was no lifeboat drill or muster at all, it seemed to be a mad house of people leaping over the side. I sailed on the Laconia`s sister ship, the old Franconia, 56 years ago, so I do know what goes on with a ship like that.
    The acting was wooden, long drawn out conversations that were completely boring and non relevent.
    The only decent actor was the U-boat Commander.
    A story like the that should have been very easy to do.
    All the documents of the `Laconia Incident` were well recorded by the British, German, Italian and American authorities, so Bleasdale didnt need to do so much research into that as it was all there for him. He should have had some Seafaring man who knows his job to advise him on ships and Seafaring men.
    It should have been quite easy for him to join a few characters together.
    Mr Bleasdale should confine himself to land based plays.

    So the original and tragic story is cocked up by a writer who has no idea of what he is writing about. All he had to do was to get some advice from a qualified Seafarer and he could have made a good film.
    Now What would you have done JD???

    ---------- Post added at 02:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:48 PM ----------

    Thanks for that Pennylane,
    The film lost a lot of drama, what happened to Captain Sharpe, and the Chief Officer?? It was never mentioned. Captain Sharpe was already a well known War Hero, He survived the sinking of the Lancastria, another Liverpool Cunard ship with anything up to 8 or 9,000 people killed. Unfortunately he did not survive the Laconia. Why did Bleasdale concentrate on a nonentity like a fictitous Junior Third Officer, with more badges than the Captain, who goes baby sitting instead of being on watch on the Bridge. This was wartime, a Ship with that number of people on board, not in a convoy but sailing independently and a Navigation Officer can go babysitting?
    Bleasdale is insulting the intelligence of the viewers and insulting the memory of the British Merchant Seamen who died.
    Also what happened to the survivors? If they were picked up by the Vichy French ship they would have been taken prisoner as that is what the Vichy French did, They transferred many, many British Seamen to the Germans and they were POWs in Malaig in Germany.

    ---------- Post added at 03:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:37 PM ----------

    There are two good videos on UTUBE by neilpendo, these include original films of the event and comments by two survivors,
    Bill Peet and Davi Jones also by crew members of the U156


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lknR2nc6--A

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7INatXt5Fjs

    See the real thing.

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    Senior Member gregs dad's Avatar
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    I think it was too long, turned it off the first night after 20mins flicked over the second to see if it had improved .it hadn`t ,switched off
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Doh View Post
    There's a documentary on BBC2 tonight at 7.30 pm on the event that has the testimonies of six of the survivors that might be worth comparing with the drama.
    One of the survivor's interviewed tonight lives in Wallasey. There was an article on him in last night's Echo.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."... ... ... Mark Twain.

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    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregs dad View Post
    I think it was too long, turned it off the first night after 20mins flicked over the second to see if it had improved .it hadn`t ,switched off
    I didn't fancy watching it.

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    Captain Kong captain kong's Avatar
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    All Bleasdale had to do was Call me, and I would have advised him for free, no charge, no probs. just for once to get a seafaring story right for once., I sailed on the Laconia`s sister ship in 1956. It would have been easy to do a proper story line. I have done it before a few times both in the States and in *Great Britain advising some very famous authors on their books. Including `Mr Liner Man`, Bill Miller, of New Jersey, a great author and lecturer on shipping and Cunard Liners, I told him of the true story of the `Laconia Incident` when I sailed around the world with him in 2008. He knew nothing of the story even tho` he lectures on Cunard Liners. This was three years ago.

    The story was never forgotten as JD, says. It has always been there for people who care. There are thousands of tragedies at sea including those with a bigger loss of life, but most people are just not interested in the deaths of men and women who gave their lives so someone can have the freedom to make snyde remarks

    I say *Great Britain because I am British, some one has changed my nationality. we are now UK, No one informed me. so now I am UKISH.
    What a funny nationality, Ukish. I guess we are all now Ukish.
    Cheers
    Brian


    ---------- Post added at 08:40 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:35 PM ----------


    I have just watched the programme with the interviews with the survivors. Fantastic stories of the real happenings of the tragedy. That programme could have lasted more than an hour. We learned more from the survivors in 30 minutes than we did from Bleasdales mindless meanderings in over three hours. Maybe Bleasdale should have watched the survivors stories first before he wrote a load of fictitious crap.
    He should have got the real story from the real people who were there.
    He is obviously one of those people who having no experience of anything out of the ordinary does not believe the stories of real people who have real experiences or adventures because they live such tedious and boring lives.
    He did nothing good out of this. The real story was there in front of him.
    All the official reports were there. the actual story was already written.
    The personal stories were already there by the people who survived. again the story was already written.
    A cretin could have written that script.
    If it was fiction, it wasnt even a good fiction.

    What are your comments now Mr JD.?

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    ck, how true. The real life accounts tonight were the best bit. I am left wanting to know more. Like where the blue-blazzies did they go next? Although there are probably a great many such tales to tell.

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    Captain Kong captain kong's Avatar
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    This is part of an account from a Mrs Stoneman who was one of the survivors.............................

    Luckily for the hundreds of helpless men, women and children, the U-boats had delivered them, to a designated spot – and the Vichy French cruiser, ‘Gloire’ was en route to pick them up from Casablanca.
    The survivors, in about eleven lifeboats were told to keep together … they would not have long to wait.
    That same day the old French cruiser picked them up and, after a refuelling stop at Dakar, delivered them to Casablanca.
    The survivors thought they were as good as home, but in many ways they were just beginning an ordeal that in many ways was worse than the one they had endured.
    ROTTEN


    “The French were rotten,” said Mrs. STONEMAN. “That’s the only word to describe them. We ended up thinking of THEM as our enemies and not the Germans. They treated us like animals most of the time.”
    On the journey to Casablanca the men were separated from the women and children and spent most of the time locked up in steel holds that rapidly became like pressure cookers.
    Mr. STONEMAN said: “They really treated us rough and that journey was one of the worst I made in my life. We had little food and hardly any water.”
    The STONEMANS were interned in a camp at a place called Sidi El Ayachia, an insect-infested group of mud huts on the edge of the desert.
    All Mrs. STONEMAN can remember were countless days of terrible food, little water and killing heat.
    They lived on lentils and dried peas mostly boiled into a kind of soup.
    Once a day they were given a square of hard bread and a cup of strong coffee.
    “It’s quite impossible for me to describe the filth of that place,” she said. “We were infested with lice and fleas and almost everybody suffered almost permanently from dysentery.”
    “We were a burden to the French and they made it quite clear that they hated us. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of some of the missionaries, life would have been unbearable.”
    The STONEMANS stayed in the camp for almost two months and they were finally released following the American invasion of North Africa.
    Mrs. STONEMAN and June were the first to go. They went by hospital ship to Gibraltar and from there to Liverpool. Husband, George, followed a few days later.

    They said that they were a lot better treated by the more friendly Germans who were very caring.

    Stuff France I say.

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    Senior Member John Doh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oudeis View Post
    ck, how true. The real life accounts tonight were the best bit. I am left wanting to know more. Like where the blue-blazzies did they go next? Although there are probably a great many such tales to tell.
    Now that makes me wonder if you or 'the Captain' actually watched Bleasdale's drama at all! No doubt CK was too busy checking on the details of uniforms, RN etiquette, etc., etc., to be able to follow the actual story line. But may I point out that in every respect the survivors' accounts agreed with Bleasdale's, even down to such details as the panic that ensued when the lifeboat muster was called. Kong is clearly a man who perhaps (luckily) has never had to face such a situation, but I challenge him to watch both accounts again and then tell me that Bleasdale --- or I --- have got it wrong.

    Yes, I too would like a sequel as to what happened to the survivors on arrival in Vichy France -- curiously lacking from both accounts... Fair Stood the Wind for France and all that?

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    There was a good deal of romance stitched in to the tale and a trial dive. "The play's the thing" as I mentioned earlier. There are documentaries, docu-dramas, mock-umentaries...all the way down to fanciful tales.
    This reminds me of a great fun war series that hit the TV screens in the UK some years ago now called 'The Desert Rats' this involved a team of yanks pootling about the Sahara righting wrongs and getting into and out of sticky situations...until those ex-army guys who had fought in the desert pointed out to the BBC that the yanks were never in the desert. The programme was pulled. This sad little chap grew up and all lived happily ever after...ahhh.

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    Captain Kong captain kong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Doh View Post
    Now that makes me wonder if you or 'the Captain' actually watched Bleasdale's drama at all! No doubt CK was too busy checking on the details of uniforms, RN etiquette, etc., etc., to be able to follow the actual story line. But may I point out that in every respect the survivors' accounts agreed with Bleasdale's, even down to such details as the panic that ensued when the lifeboat muster was called. Kong is clearly a man who perhaps (luckily) has never had to face such a situation, but I challenge him to watch both accounts again and then tell me that Bleasdale --- or I --- have got it wrong.

    Yes, I too would like a sequel as to what happened to the survivors on arrival in Vichy France -- curiously lacking from both accounts... Fair Stood the Wind for France and all that?
    What a cynical person you are JD. YOU KNOW NOTHING OF WHAT i HAVE EXPERIENCED.
    I can tell you I have been in many life and death situations, I have barely escaped with my life on many occaisions and seen many people including close friends die. Maybe you shouild get a little experience of life and death first before you make your stupid and purile comments. I find you a very juvenile spiteful little person. GET A LIFE.

    ---------- Post added at 11:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:29 PM ----------

    Yes, I too would like a sequel as to what happened to the survivors on arrival in Vichy France -- curiously lacking from both accounts.. JD

    If you read the statement of Mrs Stoneman above you would know what happened to many of the survivors. Many Merchant Seamen were interned by the French and badly mistreated. That is very well known. they also killed many British Seafarers including many Liverpool ones.
    You just have not got a clue of what has gone on have you.
    Just get wise to yourself.

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    Senior Member John Doh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by captain kong View Post
    What a cynical person you are JD. YOU KNOW NOTHING OF WHAT i HAVE EXPERIENCED.
    I can tell you I have been in many life and death situations, I have barely escaped with my life on many occaisions and seen many people including close friends die. Maybe you shouild get a little experience of life and death first before you make your stupid and purile comments. I find you a very juvenile spiteful little person. GET A LIFE.

    ---------- Post added at 11:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:29 PM ----------

    Yes, I too would like a sequel as to what happened to the survivors on arrival in Vichy France -- curiously lacking from both accounts.. JD

    If you read the statement of Mrs Stoneman above you would know what happened to many of the survivors. Many Merchant Seamen were interned by the French and badly mistreated. That is very well known. they also killed many British Seafarers including many Liverpool ones.
    You just have not got a clue of what has gone on have you.
    Just get wise to yourself.

    I have indeed read the statement of one Mrs Stoneman and I thank you for this. But unless you know her personally, it seems reasonable to me to ask for its source. Any proper research, like that undertaken by Bleasdale, always insists on this and I have quite enough experience of life to know that the only truth one can rely on is that that is supported by verifiable citations. That's not being cynical, it's just a sound approach to academic inquiry.... And that is all I've asked you for... So what causes you to fly into such a rage? STONEMAN is a new name to me and I would like to know more about her and her husband, that is all...

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    Gentlemen, let us not get carried away and lead with our chins.
    Many of the posts on this thread appeared at about the same time, how they are laid out is down to the wire and assessed rather like Olympic sports to the millisecond.
    Perhaps there is more to the saying my mother often used than just deep sea fishing; "Worse things happen at sea."

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    Captain Kong captain kong's Avatar
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    Mr and Mrs Stoneman are now deceased. after all it was 68 and a half years ago.
    It is very difficult to interview the deseased

    The Vichy French were notorious in their treatment of British prisoners. .
    The sailors of the British Ships SS Criton and SS ALIENDE were forced to travel a thousand miles from Conakry and the Ivory Coast through the jungles and deserts to Timbutu, Many dying on the way with disease and then locked in a POW camp. the graves are there and are looked after by the CWGC. After the war, the French Government gave the British , LABOUR GOVENMENT A LARGE SUM OF MONEY AS COMPENSATION but no appology. The Labour Govenment kept the money, No Seaman or family recieved a penny. This shameful Labour Government kept every penny. I guess nothing changes.
    ---------- Post added at 10:02 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:50 AM ----------

    It is not printing???????????????

    Laconia survivor Mrs Stoneman.

    from GOOGLE PAGE.
    "Saved By A U-Boat" - The Laconia Incident told from survivors ...14 posts - 7 authors - Last post: 24 Nov 2009
    Mrs. STONEMAN said: “When we reached the boat deck we could see that ..... We do know that before the Laconia incident his actions towards ...
    Saved By A U-Boat" - The Laconia Incident told from survivors ...14 posts - 7 authors - Last post: 24 Nov 2009

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    Newbie Billy Wizz's Avatar
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    I fully agree with the comments made be Captain Kong.I was not at sea as long as C.K. However I also was on a few Cunard ships Passenger and cargo,but having watched part one for 1.hour I had seen enough the facts remain it was a bit distorted.When you write a drama based on fact for T.V.or a film,your skatting on thin ice.In defence of Alan Bleasdale Im sure he did some fact finding.But it just did not come across as one of his best.That said,may I say to J.D.I dont know what your little game is but I think your comments are nebulus and wooly(now look that up in the dictionary) Move on,get over it.Lets be adults and not like kids in the bloody playground.Billy Wizz.

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