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Newport Branch: Tuesday, August 30

NEWPORT BRANCH, 2022 August 30

The Sinking of the ‘City of Benares’ – Monty Dart

Our speaker this month was one of our most regular, Monty Dart. She maintained her normal high standard with an excellent talk on the sinking of the ‘City of Benares’ in 1940.

During the last World War at one time the government decided that it was wise to send children away from their homes near docks, industrial plants and highly populated cities, which were likely to suffer bombing, to more isolated and secure settings. This was termed evacuation.

The process was well known in Britain but we were surprised to learn that it even extended to sending children to safe locations abroad. A panel called CORB (Children’s Overseas Reception Board) was established to organize this. Two major manufactures in the USA – Hoover and Kodak- offered to transport children from the UK to a safe home in America for the duration of the war. The children were known as sea-evacuees.

The ships involved usually travelled in convoy when near Britain, escorted by the Royal Navy, until far out in the Atlantic when it was thought safe for them to continue on their own.

On the 17th of September, 1940 the liner ‘The City of Benares’ was torpedoed mid ocean by a German submarine. Seventy seven of the 90 children aboard died, including 5 from Newport. The total fatalities were 258 of the 406 aboard. Monty gave full details of the horrible experience the children who survived suffered in the life boats. She had learnt fully of the details from her mother who was travelling on another ship in the original convoy.

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