03/09/18: Breckland Council raise the Red Ensign flag to honour Merchant Navy
79 years ago this week the SS Athenia was the first merchant ship to be torpedoed and sunk, with the dreadful loss of 128 passengers and crew. In remembrance of that event and to celebrate the skills, courage and determination of UK merchant sailors across the globe, Breckland Council, in association with Seafarers UK, has celebrated Merchant Navy Day by raising the famous Red Ensign flag at its Dereham offices.
Cllr Richard Duffield, Chairman of Breckland Council was joined by Royal Navy representative WO Martin Fairbank, John English and Peter Loades from the Royal British Legion and council staff for a poignant and reflective flag raising ceremony, which remembered not just past merchant sailors, but celebrated the courage and work by sailors in the present day merchant fleet.
Admiral The Right Honourable The Lord West of Spithead GCB, DSC PC stated at the UK nationwide launch: "Merchant Navy Day honours the brave men and woman who kept our island nation afloat during both World Wars, and even during peacetime faced - and continue to face - the more routine perils of violent storms and mountainous seas."
Cllr Richard Duffield, Chairman of Breckland Council, commented: "I am very proud to reaffirm the Council's strong relationship with the Merchant Navy and demonstrate our support for the merchant fleet and its sailors - both past and serving - by raising the famous Red Ensign. The UK's prosperity and security has always been dependent on the strong and dynamic merchant fleet since the beginning of international trade, however too often the merchant fleet and its sailors are the forgotten heroes. Raising the Red Ensign in Dereham today is our opportunity to show the UK merchant sailors that they are not invisible and have our full support."