Belfast Telegraph

Memorial to add names of men lost in Princess Victoria tragedy

By Staff Reporter

Two forgotten victims of the MV Princess Victoria ferry disaster will be added to a memorial commemorating the tragedy.

The names of two men were identified as being among more than 130 people who died after the vessel sank between Stranraer and Larne in January 1953.

Historian Liam Kelly, from Larne, undertook research into the disaster and identified the names of two men, Gordon Wright and Thomas Saunders, who he believed should be added to the memorial.

Gordon Wright was found to have been listed among service personnel who died in the tragedy.

Thomas Saunders, an English airman, was mentioned in a newspaper article in which his family said he had been returning to barracks after a home visit when the ferry sank.

The Ulster Historical Foundation was commissioned to research both men's names and investigate whether further information about them could be obtained.

It discovered paperwork that confirmed both men died at sea on January 31, 1953 - the date of the Princess Victoria disaster.

At last night's meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's Operational Committee, elected members recommended that the men's names be added to the memorial in Larne.

The recommendation will be brought before full council for ratification.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council Paul Reid said: "I welcome this move and the fact that the names of Mr Wright and Mr Saunders are set to be added to the memorial commemorating this awful tragedy.

"The sinking of the Princess Victoria devastated families and communities here, in Stranraer and further afield.

"More than six decades may have passed, but the pain and sense of loss is still felt," Councillor Reid added.

"I thank Mr Kelly and the Ulster Historical Foundation for all their hard work."

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council will share the findings with their counterparts in Dumfries and Galloway so they can consider adding the men's names to a memorial in Scotland.

Services take place at the memorials in Larne and Stranraer on the anniversary of the tragedy each year.

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