Erewash Borough Council will honour the brave comrades of the Merchant Navy who perished during the Second World War when it takes part in the Merchant Navy Association’s commemorations being held nationally over the weekend beginning Friday 1 September.
The council will raise the Red Ensign – the flag commonly known as the ‘The Red Duster’ that flies on British Merchant Ships – at both Ilkeston and Long Eaton Town Halls on Friday 1 September to commemorate the occasion.
The Mayor of Erewash, Councillor Mary Hopkinson, will also attend two wreath-laying ceremonies. On Friday 1 September, wreaths will be placed in remembrance at the War Memorial in Long Eaton beginning at 10.45am. In Ilkeston, a service of commemoration will be held at St Mary’s Church, Market Place, on Sunday 3 September at 10am followed by the wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph at 11am.
The Merchant Navy was a reserved occupation, with merchant seamen not permitted to join the armed forces during the Second World War. Merchant Navy seamen made an essential contribution to the war effort and each day 200,000 of them faced danger at sea to keep the country’s vital supply lines open.
Within hours of the start of the war, the first casualty – the liner ‘Athenia’ – was torpedoed with the loss of 118 lives. From that day until the war ended an average of more than one ship was lost every day, while battles with ‘U’ boats alone resulted in the sinking of over 2,500 merchant ships.
The Mayor of Erewash, Councillor Mrs Mary Hopkinson, says:
“It is important that we honour the role played by merchant seafarers during the Second World War, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. Erewash Borough Council is always proud to fly the ‘Red Duster’ above both its Town Halls in recognition of everything they did for this country and to be part of the ceremony to commemorate the national Merchant Navy Day.”
Residents are welcome to attend the events in remembrance of the Merchant Navy and seafarers past and present.
Erewash Borough Council’s event is listed on the ‘Roll of Honour’ on the Merchant Navy website – www.merchantnavyday.uk