Glasgow Rangers-Ibrox Park Deadly stadium.

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Association Football also known as just Football or Soccer is the world’s most favourite sport.No sport united and divides fans like football. Legendary Dutch football coach Rinus Michels famously said that “top football is something like war. And unfortunately like war it has casualties.

There have been several well documented Football disasters over the decades, Hillsborough and Heizel are amongst the most devastating ones.

But very few stadiums top the deadly disasters like the ones in Glasgow Rangers stadium Ibrox Park in Glasgow Scotland.

During an international  football match between Scotland and England in Ibrox stadium on 5 April 1902,the West Tribune Stand collapsed, resulting in the death of 25 fans.

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A number of reasons have been considered for the collapse, including heavy rainfall the previous night and the large crowd stamping and swaying as the match progressed. One theory in a report following the event centered around Scottish player Bobby Templeton.bobby

Regarded as an exciting attacking player, he was making his debut for the Scottish national team and had gained possession of the ball moments prior to the collapse.

 

The investigation stated that the crowd’s desperation to see Templeton dribble with the ball caused them to surge forward which may have been a contributing to the collapse.

During 1963, concerns were raised about the safety of the stairway adjacent to passageway 13 (colloquially known as Stairway 13), the exit closest to Copland Road subway station. On 16 September 1961 two people were killed in a crush on the stairway, and there were two other incidents, in 1967 and 1969, where several people were injured.

Unfortunately worse was yet to come. On January 2,1971. 66 fans died in a crush among the crowd at an Old Firm football game.

In the 90th minute, Celtic took a 1–0 lead through Jimmy Johnstone and some Rangers supporters started to leave the stadium. However, in the final moments of the match, Colin Stein scored an equaliser for Rangers.

As thousands of spectators were leaving the ground by stairway 13, it appears that someone may have fallen ,possibly a child being carried on his father’s shoulders, causing a massive chain-reaction pile-up of people.

Among the dead were many children. The youngest child to die was  Nigel Patrick Pickup of Liverpool, age 9.

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Sheriff James Irvine Smith, in his damages statement, ruled: “The said accident was due to the fault and negligence of the defenders, Rangers F.C.”

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The forgotten disaster-The DSM disaster.

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Little did I know when I was aged 7, that 2 headlines in a regional newspaper would have links to my life in ways I could never have imagined.

On November 7,1975 2 events were in the Dutch newspapers. One event was a disaster which happened in a chemical plant, the other event was the release of a Dutch business man who had been kidnapped by the IRA.

The chemical plant was DSM, a petrochemical plant in my birthplace Geleen,in the Netherlands. The business man was Dr Herrema who was the Managing Director at the Ferenka steel plant in Limerick,Ireland.

43 years ago I did not think that 22 years later I would move from Geleen to Limerick.

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As the title of the blog is ‘the forgotten disaster’ I will focus on that fateful day 43 years ago where 14 people died.

I deliberately called it the forgotten history because there is really not much to be found on the DSM disaster on most historical sites.One site actually quotes the name incorrectly.

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On November 7,1975 at 9.50 AM  the naphtha cracker II-(Naphtha is a flammable liquid made from distilling petroleum, cracking, is a process in which large hydrocarbon molecules are broken down into smaller and more useful ones)-  was restarted after a revision. Unfortunately the restart didn’t go as planned due to a a pipe breaking in the compression unit.a mixture of liquids compressed was released under high pressure and flowed along the hot furnaces, causing a Vapor Cloud Explosion.

The extreme power of the explosion destroyed many installations around the cracker. In addition, fierce fires arose in pipeline streets and storage tanks.

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The explosion was felt in surrounding suburbs and nearby villages.It was not uncommon for windows to tremble in the region,  because there would be regular bangs after the start up of any of the naphtha crackers, but people quickly realized that this was different.

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As a 7 year old the experience was different of course. When you would hear a big bang or feel the explosion, there wasn’t a sense of fear but more a sense of excitement. Also the fact we were sent home early was a great bonus.

However soon after  you actually could see the reality.Men you would usually see going to work at the plant in the mornings, at the same time you’d go to school. suddenly weren’t there anymore.

After a while you’d get new neighbors  because families affected by the disaster moved out.

14 people died and 109 were injured that day.It would take 5 days for all fires to be extinguished.

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Yet in the wider world the disaster has been forgotten even Dutch historical sites barely mention it and sometimes when they do they have the facts wrong.

Many people of my age and older still vividly remember the disaster and the aftermath of it. Ever since that day there was always the fear that something like this could happen again.

I remember in 1994 or 1995 there was an incident where an US Airforce AWACS plane flew over the DSM. and it got into some difficulties.

AWACS

The pilot had called the air control at the nearest airport, which was Maastricht-Aachen Airport. They had to drop some kerosene in order to land safely at their base, which was nearby in Germany. The air controller gave the pilot the okay to do so, not realizing the plane was directly over the torch of the naphtha cracker 4 at the time.(a burning installation where the waste product of the naphtha is burned)

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Even though the AWACS plane was high above the area , if the torch had been operational at the time the kerosene still could have gone into it potentially causing a major disaster.Aside from that the code the pilot had given was a military code which also could have meant dropping bombs.although the AWACS planes do not carry any weaponry.

This incident was highlighted on a investigative current affair program on Dutch TV a few months after it happened.The show had actually been about mistakes made at several air control centres across Europe, and I had just watched it by chance, I had switched over from another channel during the commercial break.

Chemelot

 

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Sources

Limburgs Dagblad

DSM

Chemelot

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Challenger 28 January 1986

Challenger-crew

It’s hard to believe that it has already been 33 years  ago since the Challenger disaster happened. I still remember it as if it was yesterday.

One thing that I hadn’t thought of was that there was a group of children watching while their Teacher died. Looking back it make sense of course that the pupils of Christa McAuliffe would watch the launch of the Space shuttle since their teacher was on board.

37-year-old Christa McAuliffe was a social studies teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire. She was selected as a civilian and NASA’s first educator in space through the Teacher in Space Project, designed to generate publicity and inspire kids to reach for the stars. She was even going to teach a few lessons while in space.

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At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Christa McAuliffe is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel into space. McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew of the Challenger. She underwent months of shuttle training but then, beginning January 23, was forced to wait six long days as the Challenger‘s launch countdown was repeatedly delayed because of weather and technical problems. Finally, on January 28, the shuttle lifted off.

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The mission, dubbed Challenger’s STS-51L, marked pilot Mike Smith’s first spaceflight. Just before NASA lost telemetric contact with the shuttle, the crew’s voice recorder captured Smith saying “Uh-oh,” which proves that at least one member of the crew was aware something was going wrong with the launch before the actual explosion.

PILOT

Seventy-three seconds later, hundreds on the ground, including Christa’s family, stared in disbelief as the shuttle broke up in a forking plume of smoke and fire. Millions more watched the wrenching tragedy unfold on live television. There were no survivors.

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  • Francis R. Scobee, Commander
  • Michael J. Smith, Pilot
  • Ronald McNair, Mission Specialist
  • Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist
  • Judith Resnik, Mission Specialist
  • Gregory Jarvis, Payload Specialist
  • Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist, Teacher

May they rest in peace and may their souls be like stars shining at night.Challenger_flight_51-l_crew

 

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The RMS Atlantic- the “First Titanic”

RMS_Atlantic

RMS Atlantic, yard number 74, was a 3,707 ton four masted steam ship; only the second steam ship to be built for Thomas Ismay’s White Star Line.

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Sometimes referred to as White Star Line’s first Titanic, Atlantic sank  sank on April 1,1873 with the loss of around 562 lives, after striking rocks in Nova Scotia, the worst disaster in maritime history at the time – and White star Line’s second worst ever disaster, the other being Titanic.

Titànic Original

Like Titanic, Atlantic was one of the largest and grandest ships afloat at the time of her loss. Atlantic had sailed for New York on her maiden voyage just two years earlier in June 1871. Still rigged for auxiliary sail, her primary propulsion was steam. She was fitted with the newest generation of compound steam engines, cutting coal consumption in half. She had an extremely long thin hull (a length to beam ratio of 10 to 1) and some of the most luxurious and comfortable first class accommodations seen on the North Atlantic.

Atlantic left Liverpool under the command of Captain James A Williams on March 13, 1873.

Captain John A_ Williams 60%

It was her 19th voyage. From Liverpool, Atlantic sailed to Queenstown, arriving the next day, and upon leaving Queenstown, had abroad around 952 passengers and crew. The first few days of the voyage seem to have been uneventful – but the Captain later stated that they had endured heavy south-west and westerly gales, causing the ship to slow down.

On March 31, with an engineer’s report stating that only 127 tons of coal remained aboard the ship, there was a fear onboard that the ship might not have enough coal to reach New York. So, especially considering unfavorable weather conditions, it was decided to head the ship for Halifax, Canada, to load more coal.

At around 12am the Captain left the bridge to go to bed, and ordered that his steward should call him at 2.40am and that the deck officers should call him at 3am, or sooner if needed. Left in charge of the bridge were Atlantic’s second and fourth officers. Unknown to the crew, the ship, traveling at around 12 knots, was considerably off course to the west of where she should have been.

Despite the captain’s order to call him, his steward is said to have been told not to do so by the fourth officer, and it appears that, at 3am, the captain was not woken up.

At approximately 3.15am Atlantic smashed into a rock off Marr’s Head, Nova Scotia. The passengers and crew started making their way up on to deck – but the port side lifeboats were washed away by the sea, and soon after the ship keeled to port – causing the starboard side boats to be useless. This is believed to have helped cause the death of many people still below deck.

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It is said that Third Officer Brady, Quartermaster Owens and Quartermaster Speakman managed to tie a line to a rock – allowing those onboard to climb to safety; a long and perilous journey, which many drowned while trying to attempt. With the sea roaring around them and aboard the ship, those on the deck were also ordered to climb up the ships rigging or to get to a safe part of the deck.(picture of Quartermaster Speakman)John_Speakman,_Quartermaster,_SS_Atlantic,_ca._1873

After Third Officer Brady managed to summon help on shore, boats come from the shore to rescue the survivors. Around 562 of the around 952 people aboard died in the disaster – including all the women and children – except for one boy.

Many of the victims were buried on the shore near to the wreck site. 277 were buried in a mass grave – following a burial service led by the Reverend William Ancient – who had been involved in the rescue operation.

Located on the site is a stone memorial with the following inscription: “Near this spot was wrecked the S.S. Atlantic. April 1st 1873. When 563 persons perished. Of whom 277 were interred in this churchyard. This monument is erected as a sacred memorial by a few sympathetic friends.”

burial

April appears to have been  a cursed month for the White Star Line

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The fatal 90 seconds of The Herald of Free Enterprise

herald_of_free_enterprise

The Herald of Free Enterprise disaster occurred on 6 March 1987 after the Townsend Thoresen car ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise left her berth at Zeebrugge, Belgium, with her bow doors open, capsizing soon after leaving the harbour.The ship left its berth in Zeebrugge inner harbour at 18:05 (GMT) with a crew of 80 and carrying 459 passengers, 81 cars, 3 buses and 47 trucks. She passed the outer mole at 18:24 and capsized about four minutes later.

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When the ferry reached 18.9 knots (35.0 km/h; 21.7 mph) 90 seconds after leaving the harbour, water began to enter the car deck in large quantities. The resulting free surface effect destroyed her stability.

In a matter of seconds, the ship began to list 30 degrees to port. The ship briefly righted herself before listing to port once more, this time capsizing. The entire event took place within 90 seconds.The water quickly reached the ship’s electrical systems, destroying both main and emergency power and leaving the ship in darkness.

The ship ended on its side half-submerged in shallow water 1 kilometre (0.5 nmi; 0.6 mi) from the shore. Only a fortuitous turn to starboard in her last moments, and then capsizing on to a sandbar, prevented the ship from sinking entirely in much deeper water.

Crew aboard a nearby dredger noticed the Heralds lights disappear, and notified the port authorities. The alarm was raised at 18:26 British time (or 19:26 Belgian time). A rescue helicopter arrived within half an hour, shortly followed by assistance from the Belgian Navy, who were undertaking an exercise within the area.Wolfgang Schröder, a German Captain, was commended by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and received a medal from King Baudouin of Belgium for his heroic efforts in rescuing passengers.

The disaster resulted in the deaths of 193 people. Many of those on board had taken advantage of a promotion in The Sun newspaper offering cheap trips to the continent. Most of the victims were trapped inside the ship and succumbed to hypothermia because of the frigid (3 °C) water.

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The rescue efforts of the Belgian Navy limited the death toll. Recoverable bodies were removed in the days following the accident. During the rescue the tide started to rise and the rescue team was forced to stop all efforts until morning. The last of the people left on board died of hypothermia.

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The Secretary of State for Transport ordered a formal investigation in to the capsizing of the Herald using powers granted under The Merchant Shipping Act 1970. The investigation was presided over by the Hon. Mr. Justice Sheen, Wreck Commissioner. Sir Barry Sheen served as Admiralty judge of the High Court from 1978 to 1993. The only powers given to this court were investigative. It was to determine who should contribute to the investigations costs and was able to suspend or remove a Merchant Officers Certificate of Competency should that be required.

The report concluded that the Herald sank because it had sailed with the bow doors open and attributed this occurrence to serious negligence on the part of several crew members and the owners, Townsend Car Ferries Limited.

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The report also highlighted several areas of concern relating to the spirit class vessel design and also to the companies operating policies.

The investigation found that the Herald was overloaded on weight and that this was a regular occurrence which Masters had alerted shore side management of, however found that this ‘was not in any way causative of the casualty’.

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The report names several crew members negligence in their duties as contributing factors in the capsizing of the Herald. Mr Mark Victor Stanley is named as being the crew member responsible for ensuring the bow doors were closed, the report acknowledges that Mr. Stanley accepted responsibility for this and also that he will suffer remorse for many years to come. 

The report criticised the attitude of Mr. Terence Ayling who was serving as bosun on the Herald.  He left G deck for his harbour station knowing that the bow doors were open and the assistant bosun was not present to close them.

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When questioned regarding his actions he advised the enquiry that he did nothing about it because it had never been part of his duties.

Chief Officer Leslie Sabel gave evidence to the enquiry and was found to have given a conflicting statement to that which he had given earlier however the investigation recognised that Mr.Sabel had been seriously injured during the capsizing and that this may have affected his recollection of events.

Judge Sheen questioned why the failing of one member of staff could lead to such a catastrophe and why systems had not been implemented to ensure that the doors had been closed, particularly as this was not the first time a spirit class ferry had sailed with the bow doors open.

The final judgement taken from the report is as follows:

“The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons stated in the Report, that the capsizing of the HERALD OF FREE ENTERPRISE was partly caused or contributed to by serious negligence in the discharge of their duties by Captain David Lewry (Master), Mr. Leslie Sabel (Chief Officer) and Mr. Mark Victor Stanley (Assistant bosun), and partly caused or contributed to by the fault of Townsend Car Ferries Limited (the Owners).  The court suspends the certificate of the said Captain David Lewry for a period of one year from the 24th July 1987. The Court suspends the certificate of the said Mr. Leslie Sabel for a period of two years from the 24th July 1987.”

The Herald of Free Enterprise incident highlighted the need for an independent, unbiased investigative body.  This led to the formation of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) in 1989.

2017-03-06

 

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Cavan Orphanage fire

mi-cavan_orphanage_grave

In the early hours of 24 February  in 1943 fire broke out in the basement laundry of St. Joseph’s Orphanage & Industrial School run by the enclosed order of Poor Clare nuns in Main St., Cavan town. The fire very quickly turned into an inferno. The alarm was raised by horrified townspeople who tried to help. At first they could not gain access to the convent and when they were admitted it was almost too late too reach the terrified, screaming children, trapped in the top floor dormitories. A hugely inadequate fire service meant that within forty minutes the flames had taken hold, the roof had caved in and the building was left just a shell. Thirty five children and an elderly lay woman burned to death. The following day the remains of the thirty six bodies were recovered from the smoldering ruin. They were put in just eight coffins and buried subsequently in a mass grave.

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The subsequent investigation attributed it to a faulty flue. The sight of smoke coming out of the building alerted people on Main Street. They went to the front entrance and tried to gain entry. Eventually they were let in by one of the girls but not knowing the layout of the convent, they were unable to find the girls.

By this time all of the girls had been moved into one Dormitory. At this stage it would have been possible to evacuate all of the children but instead the nuns persuaded the local people to attempt to put out the fire. Two men (John Kennedy and John McNally) went down to the laundry to try to put the fire out. The flames were now too intense for this to be possible and McNally only survived by being carried out by Kennedy.

By this point it was no longer possible for the girls to get out through the main entrance or the fire escape. The local fire brigade had then arrived but their equipment was not sufficient for this fire. Wooden ladders were not long enough to reach the dormitory windows. In the absence of any other solution girls were encouraged to jump. Three did so, though with injuries, however most were too frightened to attempt it. By the time a local electricity worker, Mattie Hand, arrived with a long ladder, and a local man, Louis Blessing, brought five girls down. One child left by way of the interior staircase while it was still accessible. One child made it down the exterior fire escape. One child escaped by way of a small ladder held on the roof of the shed. the fire completely engulfed the dormitory and the remaining girls died.

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Incredibly, when alerted to the gathering smoke by a orphan girl, a senior nun made the decision not to evacuate the children, instead she directed them to the top floor dormitory and closed the doors.

Being an enclosed order, the nuns were reportedly reluctant to leave the building themselves, which they considered would be a violation of their vows.

Over concerns about the causes of the fire and the standard of care, a Public Inquiry was set up. The report’s findings stated that the loss of life occurred due to faulty directions being given, lack of fire-fighting training, and an inadequate rescue and fire-fighting service. It also noted inadequate training of staff in fire safety and evacuation, both at the orphanage and local fire service.

This finding has been disputed by many, including in a piece of verse (to be precise, a Limerick) written by the secretary to the Inquiry Brian O’Nolan, better known as the author Flann O’Brien, and one of the counsel representing the Electricity Supply Board, Tom O’Higgins, later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and presidential candidate.

 

“In Cavan there was a great fire,Judge McCarthy was sent to inquire,
It would be a shame, if the nuns were to blame,
So it had to be caused by a wire.”

It was alleged that the nuns prevented firefighters entering the building in case they saw the girls inside in a state of undress.

Due to the nature of the fire, the remains of the dead girls were placed in 8 coffins and buried in Cullies cemetery in Cavan. A new memorial plaque was erected in 2010 just inside the convent gates at Main Street, Cavan. The plaque was anonymously donated to the Friends of the Cavan Orphanage Victims group.

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The Struma Disaster-the floating coffin

struma_ship

Today  is the 76th anniversary of a tragic event that took place during World War II, involving 769 Jews who perished in a ramshackle ship called Struma while escaping from Romania.

The woeful circumstances that surrounded this event were a grim global war, clumsy diplomatic maneuvers conducted by the British to keep the Jews away from Palestine, and also a hypocritical international politics. Jews all over Europe were desperately trapped in this chaos relentlessly haunted by a pathological Nazi hatred.

World War II was already in fever pitch. Against the enormity of the then-unfolding Holocaust, the loss at sea of 781Jewish lives (103 of them babies and children) was at most blithely overlooked as a marginal annotation.Moreover, although these Jews fled the Nazis, in the pedantic literal sense they weren’t executed by Third Reich henchmen.

The Struma disaster was the sinking on 24 February 1942 of a ship, MV Struma, that had been trying to take several hundred Jewish refugees from Axis-allied Romania to Mandatory Palestine. She was a small iron-hulled ship of only 240 GRT that had been built in 1867 as a steam-powered schooner[but had recently been re-engined with an unreliable second-hand diesel engine.Struma was only 148.4 ft (45 m) long, had a beam of only 19.3 ft (6 m) and a draught of only 9.9 ft (3 m) but an estimated 781 refugees and 10 crew were crammed into her.
Strumas diesel engine failed several times between her departure from Constanţa on the Black Sea on 12 December 1941 and her arrival in Istanbul on 15 December. She had to be towed by a tug both to leave Constanţa and to enter Istanbul. On 23 February 1942, with her engine still inoperable and her refugee passengers aboard, Turkish authorities towed Struma from Istanbul through the Bosphorus out to the coast of Şile in North Istanbul. Within hours, in the morning of 24 February, the Soviet submarine Shch-213 torpedoed her, killing an estimated 781 refugees plus 10 crew, making it the Black Sea’s largest exclusively civilian naval disaster of World War II.

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Until recently the number of victims had been estimated at 768, but the current figure is the result of a recent study of six different passenger lists.Only one person aboard, 19-year-old David Stoliar, survived (he died in 2014).

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Struma had been built as a luxury yacht,but was 74 years old and in the 1930s had been relegated to carrying cattle on the River Danube under the Panamanian flag of convenience.

Apart from the crew and 60 Betar youth, there were over 700 passengers who had paid large fees to board the ship.The exact number is not certain, but a collation of six separate lists produced a total of 791 passengers and 10 crew.Passengers were told they would be sailing on a renovated boat with a short stop in Istanbul to collect their Palestinian immigration visas. Ion Antonescu’s Romanian government approved of the voyage.

Each refugee was allowed to take 20 kilograms (44 lb) of luggage.Romanian customs officers took many of the refugees’ valuables and other possessions, along with food that they had brought with them.

The passengers were not permitted to see the vessel before the day of the voyage. Below decks, Struma had dormitories with bunks for 40 to 120 people in each. The berths were bunks on which passengers were to sleep four abreast, with 60 centimetres (2 ft) width for each person.

On the day of her sailing Strumas engine failed so a tug towed her out of the port of Constanţa. The waters off Constanţa were mined, so a Romanian vessel escorted her clear of the minefield. She then drifted overnight while her crew tried vainly to start her engine. She transmitted distress signals and on 13 December the Romanian tug returned.The tug’s crew said they would not repair Strumas engine unless they were paid.The refugees had no money after buying their tickets and leaving Romania, so they gave all their wedding rings to the tugboatmen, who then repaired the engine.Struma then got under way but by 15 December her engine had failed again so she was towed into Istanbul in Turkey.(Last letter from a Struma passenger to his son, while confined aboard ship in Istanbul harbor)

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There she remained at anchor while British diplomats and Turkish officials negotiated over the fate of the passengers. Because of Arab and Zionist unrest in Palestine, Britain was determined to apply the terms of the White Paper of 1939 to minimiZe Jewish immigration to Palestine.

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British diplomats urged the Turkish government of Refik Saydam to prevent Struma from continuing her voyage.

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Turkey refused to allow the passengers to disembark. While detained in Istanbul, Struma ran short of food. Soup was cooked twice a week and supper was typically an orange and some peanuts for each person. At night each child was issued a serving of milk.

After weeks of negotiation, the British agreed to honour the expired Palestinian visas possessed by a few passengers, who were allowed to continue to Palestine overland. One woman, Madeea Solomonovici, was admitted to an Istanbul hospital after miscarrying. On 12 February British officials agreed that children aged 11 to 16 on the ship would be given Palestinian visas.The United Kingdom declined to send a ship, while Turkey refused to allow them to travel overland. According to some researchers, a total of 9 passengers disembarked while the remaining 782 and 10 crew stayed on the ship. Others believe that there had only been 782 passengers initially, just Madeea Solomonovici being allowed to leave the ship.

Negotiations between Turkey and Britain seemed to reach an impasse. On 23 February 1942 a small party of Turkish police tried to board the ship but the refugees would not let them aboard.Then a larger force of about 80 police came, surrounded Struma with motor boats, and after about half an hour of resistance got aboard the ship. The police detached Strumas anchor and attached her to a tug, which towed her through the Bosphorus and out into the Black Sea.As she was towed along the Bosphorus, many passengers hung signs over the sides that read “SAVE US” in English and Hebrew, visible to those who lived on the banks of the strait.

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Despite weeks of work by Turkish engineers, the engine would not start. The Turkish authorities abandoned the ship in the Black Sea, about 10 miles north of the Bosphorus, where she drifted helplessly.

On the morning of 24 February there was a huge explosion and the ship sank. Many years later it was revealed that the ship had been torpedoed by the Shchuka-class Soviet submarine Shch-213, that had also sunk the Turkish vessel Çankaya the evening before.

Struma sank quickly and many people were trapped below decks and drowned. Many others aboard survived the sinking and clung to pieces of wreckage, but for hours no rescue came and all but one of them died from drowning or hypothermia. Of the estimated 791 people killed, more than 100 were children.Strumas First Officer Lazar Dikof and the 19-year-old refugee David Stoliar clung to a cabin door that was floating in the sea.The First Officer died overnight but Turks in a rowing boat rescued Stoliar the next day. He was the only survivor. Turkey held Stoliar in custody for many weeks but released him after Britain gave him papers to go to Palestine.

On 9 June 1942, Lord Wedgwood opened the debate in the British House of Lords by alleging that Britain had reneged on its commitments and urging that the League of Nations mandate over Palestine be transferred to the USA. He stated with bitterness: “I hope yet to live to see those who sent the Struma cargo back to the Nazis hung as high as Haman cheek by jowl with their prototype and Führer, Adolf Hitler”. Anglo-Jewish poet Emanuel Litvinoff, serving in the British army at the time, wrote a scathing poem, mourning the loss and betrayal of Struma. Having volunteered in the British army to fight the Nazis, he now called the British khaki he wore a “badge of shame.”

For many years there were competing theories about the explosion that sank Struma. In 1964 a German historian discovered that Shch-213 had fired a torpedo that sank the ship.Later this was confirmed from several other Soviet sources.The submarine had been acting under secret orders to sink all neutral and enemy shipping entering the Black Sea to reduce the flow of strategic materials to Nazi Germany.

Harold Alfred MacMichael High Commissioner of the British Mandate of Palestine was blamed for sending at least 768 Jewish refugees aboard MV Struma to their deaths. The Jewish freedom fighters in Palestine, whom the British called terrorists, pasted posters bearing his portrait everywhere in the country saying he was wanted for murder.

struma-poster

Walter Edward Guinness was regarded as one of the architects of Britain’s strict immigration policy, and to have been responsible for the British hand in the Struma disaster,which followed a refusal to grant visas to Palestine for its Jewish refugee passengers.

NPG x133257; Walter Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne of Bury St Edmunds by Walter Stoneman

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/11/06/the-assassination-of-walter-guinness-1st-baron-moyne/

Israeli politics still refers to the Struma disaster. On 26 January 2005 Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the Knesset:

The leadership of the British Mandate displayed… obtuseness and insensitivity by locking the gates to Israel to Jewish refugees who sought a haven in the Land of Israel. Thus were rejected the requests of the 769 [sic] passengers of the ship Struma who escaped from Europe – and all but one [of the passengers] found their death at sea. Throughout the war, nothing was done to stop the annihilation [of the Jewish people

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31 January 1953- the day the Dutch lost the battle against the Sea.

image_3-_buid_zeeland_netherlands

On this day in 1953, flooding in the North Sea kills more than 1,500 people in the Netherlands and destroys 1 million acres of farmland. The storm also caused death and destruction in Great Britain and Belgium.

flooding

 

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide; the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of more than 5.6 metres (18.4 ft) above mean sea level in some locations.

The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding. The Netherlands, a country with 20% of its territory below mean sea level and 50% less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level and which relies heavily on sea defences, was worst affected, recording 1,836 deaths and widespread property damage. Most of the casualties occurred in the southern province of Zeeland. In England, 307 people were killed in the counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Nineteen were killed in Scotland. Twenty-eight people were killed in West Flanders, Belgium.

 

 

In addition, more than 230 deaths occurred on water craft along Northern European coasts as well as on ships in deeper waters of the North Sea. The ferry MV Princess Victoria was lost at sea in the North Channel east of Belfast with 133 fatalities, and many fishing trawlers sank.

mv_princess_victoria-ferry

On the night of 31 January – 1 February 1953, many dykes in the provinces of Zeeland, South Holland and North Brabant proved unable to resist the combination of spring tide and a northwesterly storm. On both the islands and the mainland, large areas of country were flooded. Many people still commemorate the dead on 1 February.

At the time of the flood, none of the local radio stations broadcast at night, and many of the smaller weather stations operated only during the day. As a result, the warnings of the KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) did not penetrate the flood-threatened area in time. People were unable to prepare for the impending flood. As the disaster struck on a Saturday night, many government and emergency offices in the affected area were not staffed.

 

 

As telephone and telegraph networks were disrupted by flood damage, within hours amateur radio operators went into the affected areas with their equipment to form a voluntary emergency radio network. These well-organized radio amateurs worked tirelessly, providing radio communications for ten days and nights, and were the only people able to maintain contact from affected areas with the outside world.

watersnoodramp_1953_-_dijkdoorbraak_in_de_alblasserwaard_bij_papendrecht

Large parts of South Holland, Zeeland and North Brabant were inundated. In North Holland only one polder was flooded. The most extensive flooding occurred on the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland, Tholen, Sint Philipsland, Goeree-Overflakkee, the Hoeksche Waard, Voorne-Putten and Alblasserwaard. Parts of the islands of Zuid-Beveland, Noord-Beveland, IJsselmonde, Pernis, Rozenburg, Walcheren and Land van Altena were flooded, as well as parts of the areas around Willemstad, Nieuw-Vossemeer and parts of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.

1953-flood-map-netherlands

The highest death tolls were recorded on the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland and Goeree-Overflakkee.

Afterward, the government formed the Delta Commission to study the causes and effects of the floods. They estimated that flooding killed 1,835 people and forced the emergency evacuation of 70,000 more. Floods covered 9% of Dutch farmland, and sea water flooded 1,365 km² of land. An estimated 30,000 animals drowned, and 47,300 buildings were damaged, of which 10,000 were destroyed. Total damage was estimated at 1 billion Dutch guilders.

The Schielands Hoge Zeedijk (Schielands High Seadyke) along the river Hollandse IJssel was all that protected three million people in the provinces of South and North Holland from flooding. A section of this dyke, known as the Groenendijk, was not reinforced with stone revetments. The water level was just below the crest and the seaward slope was weak.

Volunteers worked to reinforce this stretch. But, the Groenendijk began to collapse under the pressure around 5:30 am on 1 February. Seawater flooded into the deep polder. In desperation, the mayor of Nieuwerkerk commandeered the river ship de Twee Gebroeders (The Two Brothers) and ordered the owner to plug the hole in the dyke by navigating the ship into it. Fearing that the ship might break through into the polder, Captain Arie Evegroen took a row boat with him. The mayor’s plan was successful, as the ship was lodged firmly into the dyke, reinforcing it against failure and saving many lives.

Several neighbouring countries sent soldiers to assist in searching for bodies and rescuing people. The U.S. Army sent helicopters from Germany to rescue people from rooftops. Queen Juliana and Princess Beatrix visited the flooded area only a few days after.

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watersnoodramp_1953_-_zwaar_beschadigd_huis

A large aid program came on apace, supported by the radio. A national donation program was started and there was a large amount of international aid. The Red Cross was overwhelmed by contributions and decided to send some of the funds to assist residents of Third World countries.

Politically, the disaster prompted discussions in the Netherlands concerning the protection and strengthening of the dykes. As a result, the Delta Works were authorized, an elaborate project to enable emergency closing of the mouths of most estuaries, to prevent flood surges upriver.

deltawork

 

 

 

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