Gosport family remember loved one at memorial for SS Persia

SS Persia
SS Persia
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A MEMORIAL remembering the people who died on SS Persia has been unveiled.

A poignant service was held before the unveiling yesterday to pay tribute to the 343 passengers and crew who died on the P&O ship.

Frank Herbert, a purser on board SS Persia who died. He was the cousin of the grandfather of Helen McRobbie, of Lee-on-the-Solent, who attended the memorial service yesterday

Frank Herbert, a purser on board SS Persia who died. He was the cousin of the grandfather of Helen McRobbie, of Lee-on-the-Solent, who attended the memorial service yesterday

Helen McRobbie, from Lee-on-the-Solent, went to the commemoration event with her family to remember her relative Frank Herbert who died onboard.

Mr Herbert was the cousin of Helen’s great-grandfather Edwin Herbert, who managed to survive the ship’s sinking in December 1915.

The P&O liner was the first passenger ship to be torpedoed without warning during the First World War.

Helen, who attended the service with her mother Anne James and cousin Sian Pugh, said: ‘We were not expecting to get as emotional as we did.

We do not know what happened to Frank or how he died and I think it is important to remember the people who lost their lives.

Helen McRobbie

‘It was a very poignant moment to reflect on what happened.

‘We do not know what happened to Frank or how he died and I think it is important to remember the people who lost their lives.’

She added: ‘My great-grandfather treated Frank like a brother. The whole family were really close.

‘It was really sad when he died. He wasn’t from an armed forces background – he was purser so looked after the money.

The memorial to SS Persia unveiled at Buckler's Hard yesterday
Picture: Helen McRobbie

The memorial to SS Persia unveiled at Buckler's Hard yesterday Picture: Helen McRobbie

‘The family were farmers while living in Oxfordshire and that is what they wanted to do.’

The service was held at Buckler’s Hard, in the New Forest, and was attended by around 100 people. The memorial is a sundial which has a picture of SS Persia.

It also has the number of people who died on the ship and the date she was hit in an inscription which reads: ‘Remember 343 souls who perished in the deep 30th December 1915.’

The service was led by the family of onboard survivor Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.

As well as having the family of the victims, the service was also attended by people from P&O Cruises, the salvage team who recovered jewels being carried on the ship and an order of nuns which lost four sisters on SS Persia.

The Maritime Museum at Buckler’s Hard tells the story of the sinking of SS Persia off the coast of Crete as she was travelling from London to India.