A special flag raising ceremony recognising the courage and sacrifices of Merchant Navy seafarers past, present and in the future was held at County Hall on Sunday (3 September). The important work of the often unsung personnel was marked by the raising of the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag, the Red Ensign outside County Hall in Trowbridge. Chairman of Wiltshire Council Allison Bucknell was joined by Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Robert Hiscox, members of the Trowbridge and District White Ensign Association and Trowbridge Sea Cadets for the ceremony. Cllr Bucknell raised the flag while members of the White Ensign Association and Sea Cadets piped the flag as it was raised up the flagpole. 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.”
The date of 3 September has been designated the UK’s Merchant Navy Day since it was on this day in 1939 – the first day of the Second World War – that SS Athenia, a ship of the Donaldson Line, became the first Merchant Navy casualty of the war with the loss of 128 passengers and crew. By flying the flag, Wiltshire Council is contributing to raising awareness of the nation’s dependence on seafarers and shipping.
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. It adds: “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.”