Sunday, 8 November 2015

British Merchant Seamen in WW2

Was in church for the rememberance service this morning and one fact struck me forcably. here was no mention of the contribution of the British Merchant Marine to the war effort. It was as though the sacrefice of merchant seamen has been completely forgotten.
It has to be remember that over 35000 British merchant seamen were lost during the war.  two and a half thousand merchant ships were sunk. They bravely ploughed their way in slow ships supplying food, goods and war materials to the UK. Without their efforts the war would have been lost.
Many tributes have been paid to the crucial role played by the Merchant Navy in winning the war. The historian John Keegan notes that :
"The 30,000 men of the British Merchant Navy who fell victim to the U-boats between 1939 and 1945, the majority drowned or killed by exposure on the cruel North Atlantic sea, were quite as certainly front-line warriors as the guardsmen and fighter pilots to whom they ferried the necessities of combat. Neither they nor their American, Dutch, Norwegian or Greek fellow mariners wore uniform and few have any memorial. They stood nevertheless between the Wehrmacht and the domination of the world".
A Poem by John Masefield sums up my feelings

For All Seafarers 
by John Masefield
Unrecognised, you put us in your debt;
Unthanked, you enter, or escape, the grave;
Whether your land remember or forget 

You saved the land, or died to try to save.

Let us hope that in the future these men will be remembered.

I have declare an interest. After leaving school, I served at sea in the British Merchant Navy for twelve years in the 1960's. There were still men sailing with me who had served in the war.
My  experiences of my time at sea form the basis of a semi auto biographical novel Tales from the Sea by Eddie Gubbins. This can be purchased from Amazon, or at or as a paperback or for downloading to e-readers.