Porthcawl goes the extra mile to remember the Samtampa disaster

Thursday, 20 April 2017

By Philip Irwin
in Local People

People in Porthcawl have organised a number of events and exhibitions to mark the 70th anniversary of the loss of the Liberty Ship SS Samtampa, and the Mumbles lifeboat, Edward Prince of Wales.

A total of 47 seamen died in the tragedy.

This Saturday, April 22, at 3pm, a memorial service for those lost will take place in All Saints Church, Porthcawl.

In addition, Porthcawl Shout Forum is marking the 70th anniversary of the disaster with a commemorative exhibition and presentation on May 3, at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, between 11.45am and 2.30pm.

Porthcawl Shout’s patron, Carwyn Jones AM, will introduce the event.

Schools from Middlesbrough, Mumbles and Porthcawl will take part, together with Bridgend College students and a variety of community groups.

The bilingual exhibition in The Senedd will run for an extended period (April 24 to May 7) for those unable to get to the May 3 event.

The exhibition will then move to the Waterfront Museum in Swansea, where it will run from May 10 to June 21.

Gary Victor, the chair of Porthcawl Shout Forum, added that in October or November, a new memorial to the disaster, to be sited at the proposed Harbourside development at Cosy Corner, should be unveiled.

It has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Porthcawl Town Council and Dr G Clark, MD

With the 70th anniversary in mind, members of Porthcawl Shout have been cleaning the Samtampa memorial grave in Porthcawl Cemetery. Further restoration work has been done by Belleview Monumental Masons.

The story of that grave is a poignant one in itself. The majority of the Middlesborough-based Samtampa crew were taken home for burial.

However, 12 could not be identified, and they were buried in Porthcawl.

Two years later, on April 23, 1949, the present memorial mass grave was unveiled to an enormous attendance of official representatives and town residents at Porthcawl Cemetery and it resulted in this letter of gratitude.

“I would like the good people of Porthcawl and district to know how much their tributes and great kindness is appreciated by those who have lost their loved ones in the great tragedy.”

So wrote Mrs K Davidson from Whitby, Yorks, in a letter to the editor of the Porthcawl Guardian newspaper.

Not only had she lost her 24 year old son Lonsdale Francis Davidson, who was an Able Seaman on the Samtampa, but he was one of the 12 crew that could not be identified and taken home.

Mrs Davidson helped unveil the 12 ft x 7 ft marble memorial, funded by public subscription, and the dedication service was carried out by the Rector to the Parish, Rev William Roach.

Sadly, the beautiful large white marble anchor was stolen in 2000 and has never been recovered, it was later replaced with a fibreglass replica.

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Article source: http://www.barry-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=113127&headline=Porthcawl%20goes%20the%20extra%20mile%20to%20remember%20the%20Samtampa%20disaster§ionIs=news&searchyear=2017