This Sunday 4th September sees the annual Merchant Navy Day service of remembrance at the national Merchant Navy Memorial in Trinity Square Gardens on Tower Hill at 12.30. Merchant Navy Day takes place on 3 September and the council will fly the Red Ensign as a mark of respect.
Many of us walk past the imposing structure of the Merchant Navy Memorial on a regular basis but more of us should pause to read the names and try to imagine the stories of sacrifice behind them.
The memorial bears the names of 35,842 merchant seafarers, men and women, civilians all, from the First and Second World Wars, together with the Falklands Campaign for whom there is no grave but the sea. It is in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
A Royal Marine Band will accompany the service on Sunday and a reading will be given of a first-hand account of an action involving a ship and its crew named on the memorial.
In both World Wars, the Merchant Service suffered heavy losses in order to bring vital supplies to the UK. Without them the country would have starved.
This is how Raymond Lewis died
“Raymond Lewis was a galley boy aged 15 serving with his 14 yr old brother Kenneth, a mess room boy. Their names appear together in your picture because they died together at 23.55 hours on 18 Oct 1940 when the SS Fiscus (Master Ebenezer Williams), in convoy SC-7 and carrying steel, timber and a deck cargo of crated aircraft, was torpedoed and sunk by U-99 east of Rockall. The master, 36 crew members and one gunner were lost.
Their names therefore are recorded on the Second World War section of the Merchant Navy Memorial since they have no grave but the sea. The only survivor was found standing on some debris by a lifeboat of the Snefjeld, another victim of the same U-boat. On 23 October, they were all picked up by the Royal Navy corvette, HMS Clematis. The convoy, SC-7, had 20 ships sunk and 6 damaged.
By way of context, the age range of those – men and women, all civilians – on the Memorial’s Second World War section is 14 to 74 and on that for the First War, it is 13 to 73.”
Many thanks to Roger Hoefling for the information above.
For more information
- Merchant Navy Day (Tower Hamlets Council)
- First World War Centenary – Merchant Navy Day Service
- Sailors Society
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Tower Hill
- Merchant Navy (Wikipedia)