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World News

02 Jul 2020

Arandora Star: Scottish Italians killed in World War Two sinking remembered

Scottish Italians killed in World War Two sinking remembered
BBC:

A service is to be streamed online to remember the Scottish Italians killed in a World War Two tragedy.

They were among hundreds of internees who died when the Arandora Star was torpedoed on 2 July 1940.

A mass will be held at St Andrew's Cathedral in Glasgow and streamed live as it is not open to the public.

The 80th anniversary will also be marked by a short prayer and blessing along with a wreath-laying at the nearby Italian garden.The Arandora Star was a converted liner being used to transport internees - and some German prisoners of war - to Canada when it was sunk by a torpedo from a U-boat off the Irish coast.

According to historian Raffaello Gonnella from Glasgow, the story remains an important one for the community even after so many years.

"The impact was huge - every single Italian Scottish family lost a relation or knew a family who lost someone in the tragedy," he said.

His own maternal grandfather - Quinto Santini from Paisley - was among those who died that day and is commemorated at the memorial in Glasgow.

"The tragedy of the Arandora Star will never be forgotten by these families and by the new generations of Scottish Italians as we continue to tell the story to many other non-Italian Scots," said Mr Gonnella.

He also said he believed, like many, that the disaster could "almost definitely" have been avoided if it had been made clear the ship was carrying internees.

"The Arandora Star sailed without any markings and was not part of any convoy," he said.

"At least Red Cross markings should have been painted on the ship and why was such a prestigious ship allowed to make the journey alone?"

Many of those below deck were killed immediately by the torpedo - while others drowned trying to access lifeboats on a ship carrying many more people than it was designed to transport.

However, Mr Gonnella is not among those who feel there should be some kind of apology issued for what happened.

He simply wants the words on the memorial to the victims - we will never forget you - to be honoured.

"I want the story told and the events back then written into history and remembered," he said.

They will certainly be recalled in Glasgow - and many other locations across the country - by families with connections to those on board the ill-fated vessel eight decades ago.

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