The Merchant Navy Memorial
Next page -
panels, more words and pictures
THE UNVEILING - 3RD SEPTEMBER 2008
Merchant mariners are a forgotten service of
war-time, yet key to survival, for, without them vital supplies
could not have been transported. Over 30,000 British
merchant mariners lost their lives in World War II, and some
17,000 in the Great War.
The first Merchant Navy Day was held in 2000, on 3rd September.
This was the anniversary of the torpedoing of the SS Athenia,
mistaken by U-30 for an armoured cruiser, some eight hours after
war had been declared against Germany in 1939.
On Merchant Navy Day 2005 Donald Hunter, retired Merchant Navy
man who had served during the Second World War, proposed a
Merchant Navy memorial in Dover. Three years and nearly £50,000
of fund-raising later, the new memorial, situated on Dover
seafront, was unveiled.
The Band of the Brigade of Ghurkas and the standard
bearers began the ceremony
The ceremony was conducted by
Reverend David Ridley. "I warmly welcome you all to this deeply
significant day and ceremony...... We have come together to give
thanks and praise to Almighty God, the origin of all that is
good, and whose love, revealed in Jesus Christ, sustains the
this Merchant Navy Day, we remember before God all those, in the
Merchant Navy, who have given their lives in time of war in the
cause of freedom and justice. We pray for hose who continue to
grieve, and for the healing of memories.
"As a sign of our remembrance and
thanksgiving we shall today unveil this Memorial Statute as a
lasting tribute to those who have given their lives in the
service of the merchant Navy and their country ..."
The Lord's prayer followed the
welcome and bidding. "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be
thy name. The kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is
in heaven ...".
the first hymn:
"I vow to thee my country, all
earthly things above,
entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:..."
....the reading was taken from
"Those who go down to the sea in
who ply their trade in great waters,
These have seen the works of the Lord
and his wonders in the deep."
David Potterton, Principal Chaplain of the British and
International Seafarers' Society, read the lesson from John
"Jesus said to his disciples, "This
is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved
you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down
for one's friends ...."
Reverend David Ridley gave the
address, "The words in the lesson are powerful. No one has
greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his
friends. This is a reference to the sacrifice of Jesus on the
Cross ... and also now to the sacrifice of those who give their
lives for others ... There are different views on armed
conflict, but there is no limit to the courage and bravery of
those who put their lives at risk...."
The Memorial not only commemorated
those who lost their lives, and those who survived, but it
represented hope and optimism for the future. "May we
remember all who have gone before us to make this world better
...may we work for the good and well-being of others and
for the Glory of God."
"Oh God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home."
"Beneath the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure."
Let us pray:
us give thanks for all who have given their lives for their
nation, especially the Merchant Navy whom we remember today. We
pray that the
of their lives may not have
been in vain ... let us dedicate ourselves to the cause of
justice and of peace ...
"Let us pray for all who continue
to mourn their dead ...have compassion on those for whom we pray
"Let us pray for peace and for
those who work for peace. Turn the heads and hearts of all to
Yourself, and to peace founded on righteousness, established
through the whole world. Amen."
No service for mariners would be
complete without the traditional hymn:
"Eternal Father, strong to save,
whose arm hath bound the restless wave
who bid'st the mighty ocean deep
its own appointed limits keep.
Oh hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.
||O Trinity of love and power
Our brethren's shield in danger's hour
from rock and tempest, fire and foe,
protect them whereso'er they go
and ever let there rise to thee
glad hymns of praise from land and sea."
memorial was sculpted by Vivien Mallock (left). Invited to
unveil the memorial was Winston Spencer Churchill, grandson
of Sir Winston Churchill. .
feel deeply honoured to be invited to unveil this splendid
memorial in the famous fortress-city
harbour of Dover – one of the Cinque Ports of which my
Grandfather was so proud to be Lord Warden .... it
is a worthy
addition to the trophies of this town, which has traditionally
stood in the path of any would be invader of
these isles ...
falls to me to pay tribute to the gallantry and sacrifice of the
men of our Merchant Navy, who played an indispensable part in
our nation’s very survival in World War II, and in our ultimate
provided our lifeline of food and war-material and, as the hour
of Victory approached, they played a key role in Operation
Neptune, in support of the D-Day invasion of Normandy and of the
Allied armies engaged in the liberation of Europe. This memorial
honours their sacrifice .... one in three of our merchant seamen
did not survive the war."
Churchill continued with the words of his grandfather, spoken on
27th April 1941, "We
are a seafaring race and we understand the call of the sea. We
account you in these hard days worthy successors in a tradition
of steadfast courage and high adventure, and we feel confident
that that proud tradition of our island will be upheld today
wherever the ensign of a British merchantman is flown."
Speaking of the
"dedication and courage" of the Merchant Navy "in braving the
elements" Mr Churchill concluded, "Let
us ever honour the memory of these heroic seafarers. It now
gives me the greatest pleasure to unveil this memorial."
at that moment, those elements paid their own tribute to the
merchant mariners. For as the rain came on, it was a gust of
wind that unveiled the memorial, to reveal a proud merchantman
on his watch, gazing with tireless eyes upon a cold grey sea.
Reverend David Ridley dedicated the memorial,
"To the Glory of God we offer this statue in memory of those in
the Merchant Navy who died in the service of our country.
Help us know their courage ...Let us remember fore God and
commened to his sure keeping those who have died for their
country in war ....and all who lived and died in the service of
Donald Hunter read the exhortation:
"They shall not grow old, as we
that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the
condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the
will remember them"
The Last Post heralded the
two-minutes silence. Before the
of the wreaths, Vivien Foster, President of the Merchant
Association, read the Kohima
you go home tell them of us,
For your tomorrow we gave our today."
|"God save our gracious
Long live our noble Queen.
God save the Queen.
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen."
|"Thy choicest gifts in store
on her be pleased to pour,
long may she reign.
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen."
Reverend David Ridley pronounced the blessing. "Go forth into
the world in peace: be of good courage; hold fast that which is
good: render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the
faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour
"Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy
Spirit; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.
Next page -
panels, more words and pictures