My cousin is researching the Trott family tree and, as part of the investigation we received the following information from our 84 year old aunt about one of her many aunts:

Our great aunt - Fanny Gladys Trott was born on the 18th February 1897 at Boston in Lincolnshire

She worked at Fisher Clarkes as a clerical assistant before joining the Church Army. Around 1922 we know that she was in the Church Army and based at Merthyr Tydfil.

During the war she ended up in France and in 1940, on the eve of Dunkerque (I don’t know the precise date – can anyone help with this?), she was told that she had to go to St Lazare – or could this be Nazaire? There she boarded the Lancastria, along with hoards of servicemen. In the evening it was very stuffy below, so she went up on deck for some air. She saw a German aeroplane flying overhead and watched it drop two bombs. The first one missed the ship but the second went down the ship’s funnel. Chaos ensued!

Lifeboats were manned, but there were too few as the ship was seriously overcrowded. Some people in the boats had lifebelts on but they took them off and passed them to those in the water. People were jumping from the deck of the ship into the already very full lifeboats below – Auntie’s legs were later found to be very badly bruised from servicemen landing on her.

There were hundreds of troops on the lower decks who had absolutely no chance of survival and went down with the ship.Survivors were eventually picked up by a French destroyer, but the vessel fouled a propeller in the wreckage and ‘limped’ to England on one propeller. Many of these survivors rescued from the water were covered in oil and there were only two Church Army sisters to clean them up – great aunt and her colleague.

After ‘survivors leave’ she went out to the Middle East – we know she visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem – where she finished out the war in catering. This is quite ironic as my Aunt tells me that her Aunt was a hopeless cook! I know that for some of the time she was based at Port Tewfik.