Robert Chamberlain

Robert is listed on the War Memorial as one of those who gave his life during the Second World War.

Robert Chamberlain was born in 1914 in Norfolk and was the son of Fred Chamberlain & Clara Henrietta, nee Watson.

Robert served in the army in 1940 in a mechanical transport repair shop and as a driver in the Royal Army Service Corp. His military serial number was Private T/2654738. He died on 17th June 1940 at Dunkirk when he was lost at sea aged 26. He is commemorated on Dunkirk War Memorial, France, column 140.  

Dunkirk War Memorial, France
Column 140, Dunkirk War Memorial
Column 140, Dunkirk War Memorial

Robert died at the same time as thousands of others on a tragic day almost white-washed from history despite it being the biggest loss of life in the history of maritime England. Yes, far greater than the Titanic (1,517 drowned) and the Lusitania (1,198 drowned) and yet no-one has probably heard of HMT Lancastria on which Robert died. HMT Lancastria was a British ocean liner requisitioned by the UK Government during the Second World War. She was sunk on 17th June 1940 during Operation Aerial off St-Nazaire, Bay of Biscay. She was bombed by the Germans after evacuating 1000,s of British troops whilst similar operations were going on at Dunkirk. It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,800 people died that day when she sunk. So why don’t we know why Robert and so many others died? Well, Churchill put out a news ban on the disaster on the grounds that there should be no further bad news published at the same time as the losses at Dunkirk and the invasion of France. Such were the demands on the government and news agencies at the time that this biggest individual British maritime tragedy ever was not fully reported or even properly recorded. Subsequent research has revealed all and can be read at Forgotten tragedy: The loss of HMT Lancastria | The National Archives
RIP Robert Chamberlain 1914-1940.

War Memorial, St Mary the Virgin, Martham.

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