SS Arandora Star plaque
On 2 July 1940, the 15,000 ton Blue Star luxury liner, S.S Arandora Star, was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, 75 miles off the north-west coast of Ireland. Bound for Canada, she was carrying over 1200 passengers, consisting mainly of Italian, German, and Austrian internees, plus a military guard of British soldiers and a crew of Merchant Navy seamen.
Over half of those on board perished, including nearly 450 Italians, many of who had been arrested and interned in the summer of 1940. Of those, thirteen men were from Teesside, where they had made their homes, married, raised families, and become well-known and respected members of the local business community.
Leandro Beltrami, Luigi Bertoia, Allesandro Borsumato, Domenico Greco, Tullio Greco, Amedeo Lucantoni, Antonio Nardone, Antonio Ranaldi, Camillo Rea, Domenico Rea, and Guiseppe Tortolano from Middlesbrough, Antonio Todisco from Redcar, and Domenico Pontone from Seaton Carew all died. 'For all of them their graves remain known only to God'.
On 2 July 2009, a memorial plaque commemorating this tragic event was unveiled in the Town Hall. It serves to recognise and commemorate the lives and achievements of these men, their contribution to our community, and the tragic loss which was suffered when the SS Arandora Star was sunk.
Teesside International Brigaders plaque
Located in the Town Hall is a memorial plaque dedicated to the Teesside International Brigaders. The memorial plaque was erected in memory of the 10 Teesside men who went out to fight with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s.
The Teesside International Brigades memorial is an oak board, with a triangular pediment top. It shows the International Brigades crest, the names of ten Brigaders who fell, an inscription, and a list of XV Brigade battle honours. The lettering and International Brigade crests are hand painted.
On Friday 9 October 2009, the plaque was rededicated by Duncan Longstaff from the International Brigade Trust, whose father John fought in the International Brigade and was a key figure in getting the plaque installed in the Town Hall in 1992.
A complete history of the Teesside memorial plaque can be found on the International Brigades website.
SS Arandora Star plaque (left) and Teesside International Brigaders plaque (right).