William Biles


William Biles

War Graves Commission Certificate for William Biles



Back to the book “The Forgotten Tradegy”

The sheer size of the Lancastria disaster and the fact that the troopship sank in the estuary of the River Loire, trapping many people inside the hull, means that a great many of the bodies were never recovered. A considerable number of those who escaped the sinking never had life jackets and could not swim. It is a fact that bodies were found weeks and, in some cases, months later, north and south of Saint-Nazaire, along the French coast; some more than one hundred miles from where the Lancastria sank. Therefore this exercise almost becomes paradoxical, as it is virtually impossible to gain knowledge of the exact numbers of personnel lost on that fateful day. The following lists are of either those found and buried ashore, or reported to be on board at the time of the sinking and presumed to be lost in the action. Others, who were supposedly recorded, died from injuries on the way back to England and were buried at sea. There are some names included who may not have been aboard the ship at all, but whose date of death are given, in some cases, from a date late in May 1940 to a date either on or after the sinking. These have been included towards the end of the list. All the details of each service man are as recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). Names with an asterisk * after their number or, in the case of Merchant Navy personnel, after their job title, merely confirms that their name appears on the CWGC’s database with the name Lancastria included in their details. However, this does not mean that if the asterisk is missing that they were not on board.

The CWGC assure me that every Commonwealth service man or woman lost during the Second World War is recorded somewhere in the world, either on a headstone or on a memorial, all of which are duplicated in their respective registers; they have also assured me that there were no Royal Navy casualties connected with the loss of the Lancastria. If any names are missing from the following list, I personally apologise; but, in defence, if the incorrect date of a person’s death is recorded, it will always be an impossible task to achieve a complete list. As the reader will appreciate, the compilation of this large list of names took inestimable hours of research, but was not compiled to prove or disprove any previous estimations. It is purely to record all the known names, together, as a remembrance to those who died on 17 June 1940. Army and RAF names recorded in the appropriate lists of lost personnel, held at the Public Record Office in Kew, have been meticulously checked with this list and the CWGC’s website ( and the appropriate adjustments made.

Their Name Liveth for evermore