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Marking maritime history


The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the P&O ship SS Persia was marked this summer with an exclusive Act of Remembrance at the Maritime Museum at Buckler’s Hard near Southampton

P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Paul Ludlow, Mary Montagu-Scott and John Attenbourgh

P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Paul Ludlow (left) with Mary Montagu-Scott and John Attenbourgh, Chaplain to the Port of Southampton, at the Act of Remembrance earlier this year

The maritime village of Buckler’s Hard near Southampton allows visitors to step back in time to the 18th century and discover the important role that Buckler’s Hard played in Britain’s shipbuilding history. The re-designed Maritime Museum offers a new interpretation of Buckler's Hard and the Beaulieu River, focusing on its ships, which have been the inspiration for a wealth of art, literature and films, while The Buckler's Hard Story provides an insight into what village life was like in the 18th century. Until the end of this year, P&O Cruises guests can visit Buckler’s Hard and find out more about its naval history at the Maritime Museum at a 20 per cent discounted rate (see end of article for details on claiming the discount).


In loving memory

It was in the Maritime Museum earlier this year that the first Act of Remembrance for the 343 souls lost when the P&O ship SS Persia was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Crete in 1915 took place. P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Paul Ludlow and Captain Alistair Clark were among the guests and relatives who attended the moving ceremony.


The poignant service was led by Lord Montagu, grandson of survivor John 2nd Baron Montagu, who delivered an extract from a letter written by his grandfather during his recuperation that detailed the tragedy. In addition to the singing of hymns and recital of prayers, P&O Cruises Captain Clark read Eileen Mahoney’s stirring naval poem ‘In Waters Deep’, and Lord Montagu laid a wreath as the Last Post was sounded.


To mark the occasion, a memorial sundial plaque, commissioned by the Montagu family and thoughtfully chosen to reflect the use of these devices for navigation on board ships prior to the development of modern tools, was unveiled. Created by sundial maker Harriet James, it also features an illustration of the SS Persia, along with the inscription ‘Remember 343 souls who perished in the deep’ and the date of the ship’s sinking.

Illustration of SS Persia

SS Persia was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Crete in 1915

The Maritime Museum tells the story of the SS Persia’s sinking through a new exhibition. SS Persia was on her way from London to India when she was sunk by a German torpedo off the coast of Crete on 30 December 1915. The attack was controversial because it broke recognised international naval law, which stated that passengers on board merchant shipping vessels should be given the opportunity to disembark prior to combat. However, the U-38 gave no prior warning before firing its missile. It took just five minutes for the ship to sink, killing 343 of the 507 people on board.


In addition to the remembrance service, there are some exciting new inclusions to the SS Persia exhibition at Buckler’s Hard to coincide with the anniversary. A collection of jewellery encompassing some of the exquisite gems that were recovered from the ship’s wreckage in 2003 are now on display, and features a range of gold and silver bracelets, pendants, earrings, rings and cufflinks. You can also get a closer look at an unusual and unique artefact: a £5 note that was carried in the pocket of John 2nd Baron Montagu during his 32 hours in the water before he and his fellow survivors were rescued.



For more information on the SS Persia memorial and exhibition, visit