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Woodbridge Town Council Supports Red Ensign Day

28 August 2018

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Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day, the day that the Country remembers the service of Merchant Navy seafarers, is celebrated on 3 September 2018, with commemorations continuing all week. Red Ensigns will fly across the Country including in Woodbridge to mark the service of these brave men and women.

While the Red Ensign will fly all week at the new flagpole at Tide Mill Quay, there will be a formal flag raising ceremony at 12 noon on Friday, 7 September to which the Town Council welcomes the townspeople.

As the Imperial War Museum says: In wartime, Britain depended on civilian cargo ships to import food and raw materials, as well as to transport soldiers overseas, and keep them supplied. The title 'Merchant Navy' was granted by King George V after the First World War to recognise the contribution made by merchant sailors.

Britain's merchant fleet was the largest in the world during both world wars. In 1939, a third of the world's merchant ships were British, and there were some 200,000 sailors. Many merchant seamen came from parts of the British Empire, such as India, Hong Kong and West African countries. Women also sometimes served at sea in the Merchant Navy.

During both world wars, Germany operated a policy of 'unrestricted submarine warfare', or sinking merchant vessels on sight. By the end of the First World War, more than 3,000 British flagged merchant and fishing vessels had been sunk and nearly 15,000 merchant seamen had died. During the Second World War, 4,700 British-flagged ships were sunk and more than 29,000 merchant seamen died.

Since the Second World War, the British Merchant Navy has become steadily smaller, but has continued to help in wartime, notably during the Falklands War.

The Woodbridge Mayor, Councillor David Mortimer said, ‘The Merchant Navy not only exists in wartime but is here in peace time too. Most of our imports come by boat courtesy of the Merchant Navy: the food we eat, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the tech that rules our lives, the cruises we take.

Let us all thank these seafarers and remember the service they have given, continue to give and will give in the future both in peace and war.’