Merchant Navy Day

Yokel

LE
‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’ on 3rd September 2021

Fly the Red Ensign is an annual campaign, proudly run by The Seafarers’ Charity, to honour the brave men and women who kept the UK afloat during both World Wars and celebrate our dependence on modern-day merchant seafarers who are responsible for more than 90% of the UK’s imports. The COVID-19 pandemic had a tragic impact on Merchant Navy communities, and many continue to need urgent support. This Merchant Navy Day, 3rd of September, please Fly the Red Ensign to remember the sacrifices of the often forgotten and invisible Merchant Navy community and help us raise vital funds to help respond to the increased need for support.

All funds raised will go towards the Merchant Navy Fund, which is administered by The Seafarers’ Charity and supported by the MNWB.

Please click here to download a letter from Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive, The Seafarers' Charity inviting you to join the campaign.

Please click here to download the campaign leaflet.

Merchant-Navy-Day-2021-Flyer-jpeg-1.jpg
 

Yokel

LE
There has been a stunning silence from the media regarding the day. I wonder if the media and public actually understand how much of our trade goes by sea? Many people seem to assume that everything arrives by air or on a lorry. The oceans are the highway of the Global economy, but the merchant seaman is under appreciated.

Not only were they targeted in both World Wars and indeed the Falklands, they have also been targeted in the 1980s tanker war, and current tensions in the Middle East. That is in addition to terrorism and piracy, and the ever present dangers of the sea and the risk of accidents.
 

endure

GCM
There's a stunning silence every year but just to remind anyone that's forgotten...

No paid leave and up until 1941 if your ship was sunk your pay was stopped as it disappeared beneath the waves..

41875569.jpg


james.JPG
 

endure

GCM
The Red Ensign has been flying (well hanging) out of my bedroom window all day much to the puzzlement of the neighbours :wink:
 
There has been a stunning silence from the media regarding the day.

Well, let's see for anniversaries, and apart from current events, what else happened today. Oh, I know:

1939 - France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia declare war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, forming the Allied nations.

Or, to be topical:

1879 - The Siege of the British Residency in Kabul was a military engagement of the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The British resident, Sir Louis Cavagnari and his escort were massacred after an 8-hour siege by mutinous Afghan troops inside their Residency in Kabul.
 
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PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Not only were they targeted in both World Wars and indeed the Falklands, they have also been targeted in the 1980s tanker war, and current tensions in the Middle East. That is in addition to terrorism and piracy, and the ever present dangers of the sea and the risk of accidents.

‘never served civvies’ so the public don’t care, despite a higher crew loss rate than bomber command in WWII - and 100% volunteer.
 
‘never served civvies’ so the public don’t care, despite a higher crew loss rate than bomber command in WWII - and 100% volunteer.

Not wanting to denigrate the losses suffered by the MN, but I think you may be the victim of you own memory, and the BBC.

'Approximately 185,000 seamen, including 40,000 men of Indian, Chinese and other nationalities, served in the Merchant Navy during the war. Their vessels ranged in size from large cargo and passenger ships to small tramp ships and coastal vessels. The sailors served on all the seas and oceans of the world, and in the hazardous Arctic convoys that took war supplies to the Soviet Union.

'30,248 merchant seamen lost their lives during World War Two, a death rate that was higher proportionately than in any of the armed forces.'



That translates to me as about 1 in 6, or 16-ish percent.

On the other hand (via Wiki) - 'Bomber Command crews suffered an extremely high casualty rate: 55,573 killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew (a 44.4 percent death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war.'
 
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It is 50 years ago this month that I walked through the gates of the School of Navigation at Warsash to begin my career in the merchant navy. I have remained in the shipping business ever since. When I first went to sea anyone over the age of about 42-43 had probably begun their seagoing career during the war. Most of the seniors had a row of medal ribbons on their uniforms. I particularly remember an old AB / Quartermaster on a City Line ship who was lookout on my 8-12 watch when I was 3rd Mate, I was about 20 he was in his mid 60's. I used to stand on the bridge wing with him most nights just to listen to his tales of the war. He told me of being torpedoed early in the war and after spending 2-3 days in a lifeboat was picked up in an American ship (before they had joined in). He told that the septic skipper after picking up the survivors insisted on also picking up the lifeboat and putting it on the deck to "show the folks at home". Bill spent a lot of time later in the war as an assistant bosun on the Queen Mary carrying troops. A great guy ( for a scouse).

Happy Merchant Navy day.
 
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PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Not wanting to denigrate the losses suffered by the MN, but I think you may be the victim of you own memory.

'Approximately 185,000 seamen, including 40,000 men of Indian, Chinese and other nationalities, served in the Merchant Navy during the war. Their vessels ranged in size from large cargo and passenger ships to small tramp ships and coastal vessels. The sailors served on all the seas and oceans of the world, and in the hazardous Arctic convoys that took war supplies to the Soviet Union.

'30,248 merchant seamen lost their lives during World War Two, a death rate that was higher proportionately than in any of the armed forces.'



That translates to me as about 1 in 6, or 16-ish percent.

On the other hand (via Wiki) - 'Bomber Command crews suffered an extremely high casualty rate: 55,573 killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew (a 44.4 percent death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war.'

That 185,000 includes crews who never sailed in an operational war zone, there were typically @ 120,000 men under the Red Ensign, a testament to the long war service of many.
In the Atlantic theatre, MN crew loss rates exceeded Bomber Command. The Bomber Command figure also includes over 8,000 killed in flying accidents.
There were no easy days for a merchant seaman, they died on the first day of WWII right up to the last, there was no job in the rear, there was no non operational sailing, many served the whole war at sea.
36,749 seamen were lost to enemy action in WWII, the youngest 14 year old cabin boys to men in their 70’s, with a fair smattering of women.

BP entered WWII with 50 tankers, all immediately taken under war service contract on Sept 3 1939, their war ended Aug 14 1945. BP lost 55 manned and managed tankers during WWII - a notional loss rate of over 100%.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
It is 50 years ago this month that I walked through the gates of the School of Navigation at Warsash to begin my career in the merchant navy. I have remained in the shipping business ever since. When I first went to sea anyone over the age of about 42-43 had probably begun their seagoing career during the war. Most of the seniors had a row of medal ribbons on their uniforms. I particularly remember an old AB / Quartermaster on a City Line ship who was lookout on my 8-12 watch when I was 3rd Mate, I was about 20 he was in his mid 60's. I used to stand on the bridge wing with him most nights just to listen to his tales of the war. He told me of being torpedoed early in the war and after spending 2-3 days in a lifeboat was picked up in an American ship (before they had joined in). He told that the septic skipper after picking up the survivors insisted on also picking up the lifeboat and putting it on the deck to "show the folks at home". Bill spent a lot of time later in the war as an assistant bosun on the Queen Mary carrying troops. A great guy ( for a scouse).

Happy Merchant Navy day.

46 years ago this month for me, King Teds London.
Yep, nearly all my old and bolds were war veterans, many with a drink problem, 6 years shipping petrol across the Atlantic will do that for you, but BP stood by them out of loyalty.
 

endure

GCM
49 years ago for me at Riversdale in Liverpool. As a Sparky I had to do 6 months as a junior before I got my own ship. My boss told lies about his age, did 3 months morse training and was on the convoys at 16. He wouldn't talk about it.
 

Yokel

LE
I have said it before and will say it again, but I do not understand why merchant seaman were not made part of a uniformed, but still civilian, service during the war. There were civilian services such as the Police or the Fire Brigades who did war critical tasks, and their uniform meant that they were not criticised for not being in the fighting forces.
 

endure

GCM
I have said it before and will say it again, but I do not understand why merchant seaman were not made part of a uniformed, but still civilian, service during the war. There were civilian services such as the Police or the Fire Brigades who did war critical tasks, and their uniform meant that they were not criticised for not being in the fighting forces.
The reason is that no-one ashore who doesn't know any merchant seamen have never understood what they do. As far as shoresiders are concerned ships=Royal Navy/warry types/guns and rockets.

Being in the merch is a bit like being a doctor/IT bod. When asked what you do you make up some anodyne explanation that will avoid you having to spend the rest of the evening explaining what you do to someone who won't understand your explanation no matter how many times it's repeated...
 

Yokel

LE
The reason is that no-one ashore who doesn't know any merchant seamen have never understood what they do. As far as shoresiders are concerned ships=Royal Navy/warry types/guns and rockets.

Being in the merch is a bit like being a doctor/IT bod. When asked what you do you make up some anodyne explanation that will avoid you having to spend the rest of the evening explaining what you do to someone who won't understand your explanation no matter how many times it's repeated...

Ironically perhaps, I once read an anecdote of a teacher of all people making the opposite mistake. Apparently a sailor was talking to her and she was aghast at the mention of weapons,, assuming that all ships are like cross Channel ferries or oil tankers.

Sea blindness is a curse for an island nation.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
I have said it before and will say it again, but I do not understand why merchant seaman were not made part of a uniformed, but still civilian, service during the war. There were civilian services such as the Police or the Fire Brigades who did war critical tasks, and their uniform meant that they were not criticised for not being in the fighting forces.

Naby reason, mostly to do with money, certainly the stuff of a separate.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
The reason is that no-one ashore who doesn't know any merchant seamen have never understood what they do. As far as shoresiders are concerned ships=Royal Navy/warry types/guns and rockets.

Being in the merch is a bit like being a doctor/IT bod. When asked what you do you make up some anodyne explanation that will avoid you having to spend the rest of the evening explaining what you do to someone who won't understand your explanation no matter how many times it's repeated...

What do you do?
I’m an Officer with BP Tankers
Don't you get bored driving all day?
 
I have said it before and will say it again, but I do not understand why merchant seaman were not made part of a uniformed, but still civilian, service during the war. There were civilian services such as the Police or the Fire Brigades who did war critical tasks, and their uniform meant that they were not criticised for not being in the fighting forces.

The MN did have a uniform, the standard MN uniform was introduced after the first world war partly in response to the murder of Captain Fryatt by the Germans, see the memorial in Liverpool Street station.


The uniform was worn mainly by the officers, during the second world war, when not in uniform, to avoid being criticised as army dodgers, MN personnel would sometimes wear a lapel badge:,

MN Badge.jpg
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
The MN did have a uniform, the standard MN uniform was introduced after the first world war partly in response to the murder of Captain Fryatt by the Germans, see the memorial in Liverpool Street station.


The uniform was worn mainly by the officers, during the second world war, when not in uniform, to avoid being criticised as army dodgers, MN personnel would sometimes wear a lapel badge:,

View attachment 601625

one thing that caused extreme bitterness was the non issue of clothing coupons.
if you were rescued and dumped on the pier side in Liverpool, you had to go to the seaman's mission to get some Second hand clothes, some food and a sub, then straight back out the door to the pool office to sign on a new ship, any ship.
 
I have said it before and will say it again, but I do not understand why merchant seaman were not made part of a uniformed, but still civilian, service during the war. There were civilian services such as the Police or the Fire Brigades who did war critical tasks, and their uniform meant that they were not criticised for not being in the fighting forces.
A lot of my older male relations were in the MN during the war, They told of being verbally abused for not being in uniform ,when they were ashore between trips. They reckoned it fell of a bit when they got the little enamel MN lapel badges. If the ship got sunk in convoy and one survived, pay stopped from the moment of sinking.
 

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