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Merchant Navy Seafarers Honoured At Flag Raising Ceremony

Sep 07, 2017

THE courage and sacrifices made by Merchant Navy seafarers was recognised as a special flag raising ceremony took place on Sunday at various places across Wiltshire. 

At 9.45am, chairman of Wiltshire Council Allison Bucknell, Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Robert Hiscox and the town's sea cadets, among others, raised the UK Merchant Navy's official flag, the Red Ensign.

They, including members of the Trowbridge and District White Ensign Association, were joined by hundreds of others across Britain to honour those who kept the country afloat during both World Wars.

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Cllr Bucknell said: "It is important we remember our merchant seaman and the sacrifices they made in both the First and Second World Wars. I was proud to be a part of this special commemoration to mark their bravery and the important contribution during the wars."

September 3 has been the designated UK's Merchant Navy Day since 1939 and on that day the SS Athenia became the first Merchant Navy casualty of the war with the loss of 128 passengers and crew.

A message of support from HRH the Earl of Wessex thanked those taking part in the event to remember the unsung heroes of the Merchant Navy.

"Too often they are the forgotten or invisible service, by raising the Red Ensign you will ensure that at least on this day they are remembered. Your act will mean so much to their families and to the retired but most especially to those at sea," he said.

A ceremony was also held in Hillworth Park, Devizes, on Sunday afternoon. The hoisting of the Merchant Navy flag the red ensign by Mayor Nigel Carter should have taken place during a children’s proms in the park that afternoon but wet weather meant the concert had to be cancelled. However the Devizes Town Band still played rousing music for about 20 minutes to mark the occasion as Mr Carter, a former Royal Navy man, raised the ensign.

In remembrance of all Naval Heroes on Merchant Navy Day, specialist genealogy website, Forces War Records, is offering help to people to help find their naval ancestor.

Jennifer Holmes, PR and marketing manager, said: "We have 1000's of Naval records for you to search which may hold the information you've been looking for. There's 1000's of original publications and articles within our online Archive, and military specialists on tap to help you overcome genealogy brick walls, and find your ancestor."