Merchant Navy Day marked in Breckland and north Norfolk with flag raising ceremonies
PUBLISHED: 16:25 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:26 03 September 2018
Breckland Council and North Norfolk Council have marked Merchant Navy Day with special ceremonies involving the hoisting of a Red Ensign flag.
79 years ago this week the SS Athenia was the first merchant ship to be torpedoed and sunk, leading to a loss of 128 passengers and crew.
For the fourth year running, Seafarers U campaigned for the Red Ensign, the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag, to be flown on civic buildings and landmark flagpoles across the UK on September 3.
Councillor 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 flag raising ceremony, which also celebrated the courage and work by sailors in the present day.
Councillor Duffield said: “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.”
Nicholas Coppack, chairman of North Norfolk District Council, also hoisted a Red Ensign at a ceremony held at the Cromer office at 9.15am today.
Mr Coppack said: “We are an island nation, we do and will always rely on the merchant fleet to keep us fed and supplied. Let us remember not only those who have given their lives for us, but those still sailing in what can only be described as uncharted waters that lay ahead.”
He also told the story of the link between the Coppack surname and seafaring, dating back to the late 1700s.
After the ceremony, the Red Ensign was flown in Cromer churchyard as the second part of a joint commemoration between Cromer Town Council and NNDC.