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Date published: 16th August 2017

Survivors of the merchant navy who did so much to support the war effort and relatives of those who died are being invited to attend a ceremony in North Norfolk to honour their sacrifice.

A flag will be hoisted during the event next month, which will mark the bravery and the crucial role played by seafarers in the conflicts of the past century.

Cllr Richard Shepherd, Chairman of North Norfolk District Council and a former Navigator in the Royal Navy, will host the ceremony in Cromer on Friday, September 1 (10am). He will read a poem at NNDC’s Holt Road HQ, and the event will include the hoisting of the Red Duster – the UK’s civil ensign – which has been flown by the merchant navy since 1707.

“I met and dealt with the merchant navy throughout my 24 years in the Royal Navy, and during that time I went to many remembrance services of merchant seafarers,” he said.

“I’ve always felt that they have not been recognised as a service, even though they played a huge part in both world wars. Conditions for them were appalling and tens of thousands of men and women lost their lives, including on the North Atlantic and Russian convoys. They deserve recognition.”

Merchant seamen and their surviving kin are invited to wear medals. Those attending are asked to arrive at Reception by 9.40am.

One of those who will be at the ceremony will be Chris Dolby, from Sheringham, whose father Don played a key role during the Second World War.

“He first went to sea when he was 15 on a tanker going to the US, and he actually celebrated his 16th birthday in New York. He served on various ships during the war, and became a D-Day veteran when he was 17, serving on a freighter that was taking petrol and ammunition to the beaches,” said Chris.

“They were told the beaches would be taken by the time they arrived, but they weren’t so the unloading had to take place offshore, and that made them easy targets.

“He was such a young man but it didn’t put him off, and he eventually served in the merchant navy for 20 years.”

Don died in 2011 but Chris has continued his father’s tradition of laying a wreath in Sheringham on behalf of the merchant navy every year.


Last updated: 16th August 2017