Arandora Star Disaster | Documentary Idea
by Rachel Dawson
The SS Arandora Star
Submitted October 3, 2014 - Next year is the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the internee ship the Arandora Star by a German U-boat. The Arandora Star was an ex blue star line cruise ship that was commandeered to carry German and Italian internee's going to Newfoundland then on to Canada.
The Arandora Star set sail on 30th June 1940 covered in barbed wire and little protection. It went out with 1,560 internees on board, 137 crew and 200 soldiers one of which was my 17 year old great uncle and his best friend.
On 2 July 1940 between the coast of Scotland and Ireland it was sank by Germany. Celebrated U-boat captain Gunther Piren spotted it and although clearly not a warship it was in a war zone and was considered fair game.
Once she was hit it started to sink and panic set in.The soldiers had to rip at the barbed wire to get the life boats launched and in the end physically throwing the boats overboard so the people could try to jump to safety.
This disaster claimed the lives of 486 Italian internees, 173 Germans and 37 crew and soldiers. 806 people all together died on board including my great uncle and his friend.
The reason this would make an interesting documentary is that this is a forgotten incident of the war and there was speculation of why it exploded and why it wasn't escorted by war ships. A cover-up was suspected.
This disaster is well known in Italy but not heard of here in the UK. I believe it would be of great interest to people.