Awarded to Marldon Local History Group – o3 September 2017
Sunday September 3rd 2017 was a very proud moment for Marldon Local History Group (and for me) as we were able to raise the Red Ensign up our Parish Church flagstaff on Merchant Navy Day, thus joining our Village with many other villages, towns and communities all around the UK in remembering our Merchant Seafarers, both past and present. This was almost certainly the first time this flag had been flown officially over our Village, and we hope it will have started a new tradition that can be carried forward.
We would like to give special thanks to Reverend Debbie Parsons and our Parish Church Council for giving their permission for the Red Ensign to be flown over the Church, and also to our Parish Council for providing the funds allowing us to purchase the flag.
Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘Island Nation’ afloat during both World Wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern day Merchant Seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including much of the food we eat, most of the fuel we burn and virtually all the products and goods we take for granted!
In honour of the sacrifices made in the two World Wars, the Merchant Navy now lays wreaths of remembrance alongside the armed forces at the annual Remembrance Day service on 11 November. Following many years of lobbying to bring about official recognition of the sacrifices made by Merchant Seafarers in two world wars and in subsequent conflicts, Merchant Navy Day became an official day of remembrance throughout the United Kingdom. It is now celebrated annually around the world
Merchant Navy Day provides us all with not only an opportunity to remember seafarers of the past, but also to look ahead to a brighter future for UK shipping.
It provides us all with an opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by the seafarers of yesterday and to show our appreciation of British shipping today. Who knows what they may have to face in the future.
Written on a large Merchant Navy Memorial plaque on the River Mersey waterfront are the following words: “Dedicated to the men and women who gave their lives willingly for the freedom of others, and have no grave but the sea”.
These words can now be found on Merchant Navy Memorials all around the country – how honest and true they are.
This sums up a Merchant Seaman to the letter (taken from the Daily Mail in 1939):
“He is usually dressed rather like a tramp. His sweater is worn, his trousers frayed while what was once a cap is perched askew on his tanned face. He wears no gold braid or gold buttons; neither does he jump to the salute briskly. Nobody goes out of their way to call him a ‘hero’, or pin medals on his breast.
No – he is just a seaman of the British Merchant Service, yet he serves in our front line today.”
Derek Hore – Secretary/Treasurer MLHG .. Retired MN Officer
Information regarding many of those who lost their lives can be found on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.