August 3 was Merchant Navy Day and to mark this Luke has written a short blog. This was published first on his Facebook page:
“Hello #Plymouth. Today is #MerchantNavyDay. As a proud seafaring city we rightly take time to remember those members of the armed forces, especially the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, who died and fought in service of our country. That’s why it is right that today we also take a moment to remember those who served in the Merchant Navy.
Across the country the Red Ensign, the flag of the Merchant Navy, is being flown today on public buildings and flagpoles. The ‘Red Duster’ as it is sometimes better known is being flown today and I’m joining with the campaign in remembering those who served and still serve in the Merchant Navy.
Some will know that 3 September is the first day of the Second World War but it is also the day of the first Merchant Navy casualty when the SS Athenia was torpedoed just hours after the outbreak of hostilities with the loss of 128 passengers and crew. In the years that followed many thousands of Merchant Navy sailors and hundreds of ships were lost. That is why today it is important to spend a moment remembering those who served and were lost in the Merchant Navy. Losses sustained by the Merchant Navy in the first world war and in countless other conflicts are also being remembered.
The Merchant Navy isn’t just a wartime thing. In fact reliance on the Merchant Navy has increased in recent years. 90% of the United Kingdom’s imports and 75% of exports are carried by ship, including much of the food we will eat today.
We are a seafaring nation and Plymouth’s proud links to the sea are worth celebrating, commemorating and remembering. As the son of a submariner, I know my family’s own personal links to the sea. I am sure your family has some too. So, today, can I ask you to spare a moment to remember those who serve and continue to serve in the #MerchantNavy and if you see the Red Duster being flown do take a moment to explain its significance to your friends and family. Thank you.”