Fiona Symon, whose father Andrew Richardson was one of Lancastria’s victims gives an insight into her motivations and her work with the Association.

Thinking back over the last year I realized what a momentous one it has been for the Lancastria Association of Scotland and for me personally. In a book I recently read I came across these words:


Vision to see

Faith to believe

Courage to do


As I read them it struck me how closely they apply to the work of the Association. Initially, it needed the vision of a few and of one man in particular, Mark Hirst, to see the need for a Scottish Association. An Association to set in motion a totally different agenda from the HMT based on a driving need to have the Lancastria Tragedy, the last resting place of so many and the scene of the death of thousands, officially recognized and the site designated as a war grave so that it would have the ultimate possible protection.

As in so many situations in life, one has to have faith to believe that certain things are possible and can be achieved.

We have the faith that ultimately we will succeed with our campaign and, with all our members working together, have the courage, despite setbacks, to continue to work towards our goal of persuading the British Government to do the right and honourable thing and designate the Lancastria as a war grave.
Personally, it has been one of the most amazing years of my life.

It is said that you never miss what you have never had. NOT TRUE! I was ten months old when my father died in the Lancastria disaster and all my life I have missed the presence of a father.

As a small child it was a puzzled feeling of being somehow different - the only child in my class without this person called a father. As a teenager, sad and angry at missing out of the relationship my friends enjoyed. Through the years people who had known him would talk of him to me. My mother couldn't.

So I came to terms with a situation I couldn't change. I married, brought up my son Andrew, named after my father, and my daughter, Jill and put the Lancastria out of my mind as I had become convinced I would never learn any more.

However, in May 2005, I went to Aberdeen to listen to Jonathan Fenby talk about his book" The Sinking of the Lancastria". Since then my life has been transformed.

For the first time in my life I met and was able to talk with others in the same situation. Now, at last, through the Lancastria Association of Scotland I can do something for the wonderful, talented and greatly loved man my father was and also for all those who died with him.

Fiona Symon (above)

Before he sailed to France in February 1940 my father wrote in his diary of how he had always tried to maintain honour and the bond of his pledged word. I wonder what he would think of his country's governments over the last sixty-five years. I do know that, had he lived, he would have been in the forefront of our fight for justice. Although the result is often sleepless nights, I am grateful for the opportunity to work for justice for all those involved in the tragedy.

As a member of the Lancastria Association of Scotland I pledge my word to do all in my power to ensure that my father and the thousands who died with him are at last acknowledged and remembered with honour for all time by the country they gave their lives for.

The disaster, coming as it did, between the triumph of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain at a time when France was capitulating to Germany may not sit well with the Government but we cannot accept their refusal to give The Lancastria war grave status.

To quote US President Theodore Roosevelt from his speech at Illinois on July 4th 1903:
"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to and less than that no, man should have"

Also in a letter in 1900 Roosevelt wrote-
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat"



Fiona's Dad

Fiona Symon