This morning at 10am Deputy Mayor and ex Merchant Navy Officer Councillor Howard Chirgwin, proudly represented the people of Witney and stated that he was ‘proud to be honouring and recognising the service given to our island nation by seafarers.’
In this Centenary year, Cllr Chirgwin highlighted how the title of British Merchant Navy was bestowed on the then, British Merchant Shipping Fleet following their service in World War I.
In the 4 year period between 1914 and 1918 approximately 8 million tons of British shipping was lost at sea and around 15,000 seafarers gave their lives serving their country whilst at sea.
The 3rd September has been chosen as Merchant Navy Day as it marks the day on which the first British Merchant ship was lost at the start of the Second World War. SS Athenia was torpedoed to the west of Ireland en route from Liverpool to Canada. She was a passenger ship carrying 1103 passengers and 315 crew. She sank with a loss of 112 lives, 93 passengers and 19 crew.
Councillor Chirgwin then read a message from HRH the Earl of Wessex before raising the Red Ensign (or red duster as it is often fondly referred to) with a representative from the Merchant Navy, Sub Lt (SCC) RNR Tony Ingham.