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

It was the 30th anniversary of the European Gateway disaster - the Star has launched a campaign for

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

Seven airmen are remembered on this plaque on the wall of Felixstowe Town Hall - they steered their

Seven airmen are remembered on this plaque on the wall of Felixstowe Town Hall - they steered their Lancaster bomber into the sea instead of allowing it to land on the town. - Credit: Archant

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.

Joe Little, Ian Heeley and Derek Swann place a wreath at the memorial erected to the memory of those

Joe Little, Ian Heeley and Derek Swann place a wreath at the memorial erected to the memory of those who lost their lives in the Felixstowe flood disaster of 1953. - Credit: Archant

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.

The memorial at the Port of felixstowe viewing area to the three airmen who died in a Hampden bomber

The memorial at the Port of felixstowe viewing area to the three airmen who died in a Hampden bomber which crashed in the River Orwell. - Credit: Archant

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.

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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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