Killed by what they thought would save them

 By Stephen Steele - Posted at Gentle Reformation:

Seventy years ago, on the last Saturday morning in January, the MV Princess Victoria left the port of Stranraer in South-West Scotland. She was heading for Ireland with 179 people on board – but never arrived.

The flawed design of the ship meant that the car deck was flooded as ferocious waves pounded against her, in the worst storm anyone could remember. Distress messages were sent out, but the confusion of the storm meant that for most of the time, the wrong location was broadcast. Finally able to get their bearings, the radio operator stayed at his post, allowing others to escape. He broadcast SOS messages until the very end and was posthumously awarded the George Cross. The captain and ship’s officers all went down with the ship. 135 perished and only 44 survived.

The sinking ship is vividly portrayed in the above painting by Norman Whitla (late father of RPTS Professor David). The painting shows lifeboat number four, containing women and children, about to be dashed against the side of the ship. As a result, only men survived the disaster. Those who lost their lives included the Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Although largely forgotten, the Princess Victoria was the Titanic of its generation and remains one of the biggest peacetime maritime disasters in British waters.