To recognise Merchant Navy Day, Captain David Lockwood (Poole MVS Unit member) arranged for the Red Ensign to be flown on the Community Flagpole at Elvetham Heath, Fleet, near where he lives. This was arranged in conjunction with the Fleet branch of the Royal British Legion and the co-operation of Elvetham Heath Parish Council Executive Officer Jan Hyatt and Lucy Ivie Communications Officer.
The ceremony started with a short dedication as part of the Morning Worship in “The Church on the Heath” nearby and followed with the raising of the flag on the flagpole adjacent to the Community Centre. David read out a short passage about the Merchant Navy and how Merchant Navy day came about. It is an opportunity to remember that since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘island nation’ afloat during both World Wars. In WWll well over 30,000 sailors from 88 different nationalities lost their lives. It celebrates our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat, plenty of the fuel we burn and virtually all the products and goods we take for granted!Flying the Red Ensign is to represent all Merchant Seaman as well as members of the fishing fleet from all nationalities sailing under all flags for peaceful commerce. Few people remember that it is also the day WWll started and the day the first civilian casualty of the war took place with the sinking of S.S. Athenia with the loss of 128 passengers and crew.
David then invited Air Marshall Tyack, Chair of the Fleet R.B.L. to read a short message from HRH The Earl of Wessex which reads:- ‘On this Merchant Navy Day, I very much hope you will support this campaign by Seafarers UK to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy. Too often they are the forgotten or invisible service. By raising the Red Ensign you will ensure that at least on this day they are remembered. Your act will mean so much to their families and to the retired, but most especially to those at sea.’
A small contingent of R.B.L members attended, with David’s family, including his father Peter also a Poole Unit member. Afterwards we all repaired across the road to the “de Haviland Arms”