'Paying tribute to the role of the British Merchant Navy'

A reader says the Merchant Navy deserves our thanks. See letter
A reader says the Merchant Navy deserves our thanks. See letter

Yet another year passes in which we have rightly paid tribute to all those brave men who gave their lives.

Their sacrifices were not in vain and for that we should be truly grateful.

The media invested hours repeating stories of the men and women caught up in the conflicts. Striking, too, was the coverage up and down the country of all the various parades.

This was when, for me, the sadness crept in. Every year I have so hoped it would change but alas, again, the appalling losses of the men of the British Merchant Navy and their sacrifice have barely been mentioned, let alone honoured.

Once referred to as the Fourth Service – after the Army, Navy and RAF – its role has almost been forgotten.

They lost 27 per cent of 185,000 men in service in 1936 and for these men there were no graves for their loved ones to visit or memorial to honour them.

Instead, it was the cold embrace of a cruel sea.

One can only hope their end was quick. Those that survived being sunk went off pay as soon as their ship was officially declared lost and relied on charity until they were able to get their next ship.

I believe we owe them a great debt as they kept us supplied and fed throughout the war.

It would be nice to see The Red Duster being carried proudly in honour of these brave men in future Remberance Sunday parades, but I fear, once again, they will be overlooked.

Finally with Christmas fast approaching, spare a thought for the seafarers who will be bringing you most of the clothes you are wearing, the food you will be eating, most of your white goods, the cars you are driving and a good many of the presents you will be buying. They deserve our thanks.

Dennis J Ayling

Address supplied