One of the things I dislike about getting older is an increasing tendency to sentimentality. I don't think this is just me. Even so some stories would move anyone to tears.
In September 1940, the liner City of Benares was in a convoy heading for North America. Among its passengers were 90 children being evacuated to Canada. The ship was torpedoed and started to sink within 15 minutes trapping many passengers below decks. In the end 248 people died including 77 children, causing the immediuate cancellation of the programme of overseas evacuation.
The loss of so many people in a single incident is tragic enough, especially including so many children, but this is not the worst of the story. Included among the passengers were two young boys aged 9 and 5. The 9 year old had promised his mother on departure that he would look after his younger brother. When the torpedo struck, they were in their bunks but made it to the lifeboat station. In the confusion the 9 year old, Derek Capel, was caught up and thrown into a lifeboat. "That was the last time I saw my brother" he said in a TV interview. In the interview he recounts how many years later he met a seaman who had been on the Royal Navy ship that had picked up his brother. There were three young boys in the boat who it appears had died of exposure. The sailor told him how the three boys had been buried at sea in a service attended by 90% of the ships crew, the other 10% being on watch.
"90% attended the funeral" said the sailor, "but 100% were in tears."