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Felixstowe: Hope that missing memorial will be put in place for ferry disaster victims

PUBLISHED: 14:30 14 January 2013

It was the 30th anniversary of the European Gateway disaster - the Star has launched a campaign for a memorial to the men who died.

It was the 30th anniversary of the European Gateway disaster - the Star has launched a campaign for a memorial to the men who died.

Archant

THREE previous disasters to strike Felixstowe have been given memorials, and now it is hoped a fourth will be remembered in the same way.

As yet no memorial exists to the six men who died when the European Gateway ferry capsized off the resort’s coast 30 years ago.

The vessel – which was en route for Zeebrugge when it collided with the inbound Speed Link Vanguard just outside the harbour shortly before midnight on December 19, 1982 – could be seen from shore on its side, like a beached whale out at sea, for months afterwards.

Eventually it was bandaged by the salvagers, pulled upright and refloated, and taken away, but no memorial records the event, which had a huge impact on the town.

Other tragedies though have been recalled.

On the wall of the Town Hall, Undercliff Road West, there is a plaque in memory of seven airmen who in 1944 gave their lives to save Felixstowe – managing to steer their crashing Lancaster plane away from the resort, at the last minute smashing into the sea instead.

At the Port of Felixstowe viewing area, a granite memorial recalls three more airmen from a crash in 1940 when their Hampden bomber hit barrage balloon wires over the River Orwell.

Then in Langer Road the resort remembers 41 who died in the 1953 floods when a tidal surge broke through the banks of the Orwell and swept through the low-lying area of the town. An obelisk and garden marks where the water was highest.

Felixstowe mayor Mike Deacon has pledged to raise the possibility of a permanent memorial to the European Gateway victims at the town council’s finance and general purposes committee meeting on January 23.

“I remember that ship sinking and it was truly awful. It was just horrible, it really was. It was one of those things that I will never forget,” he said.

“I am surprised that nobody has come forward before to source a memorial and I will instigate an investigation into whether one can be provided.”

Felixstowe councillor Doreen Savage has suggested a memorial that is useful might be appropriate, perhaps a shipping viewing point on the seafront.

■ What kind of memorial would you like to see erected for the victims of the disaster? Add your views to the comments below.

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