The Merchant Navy Memorial

Previous page - The Unveiling - 3rd September 2008



detail of memorial, navy man looking out to sea

The statue stands on the lawn outside the Gateway flats. It depicts a Merchant seaman keeping watch on the waves.

In July 1941 Winston Churchill said, "The Merchant Navy, with Allied comrades, night and day, in weather fair or foul, faces not only the ordinary perils on the sea, but the sudden assaults of war from beneath the waters or from the sky."

"No fewer than 2,627 of our ships were sunk," said Winston Spencer Churchill, at the unveiling. There were, according to his grandfather in April 1941, never "less than 2,000 ships afloat and 300 to 400 in the danger areas." Nine months later, the war-time Prime Minister added, "But for the Merchant Navy who bring us the food and munitions of war, Britain would be in a perilous state and ...the Army, Navy, and Air Force could not operate."  The panels on the memorial tell more.

side of plinthIn remembrance of Merchant Navy seamen who lost their lives in World War II 1939-1945. They sustained heavy losses. 1 in 3 Merchant Navy seamen did not survive the war. Merchant Navy seamen killed 30,248. Missing 4,654.. Wounded 4,707. Prisoner of War 5.720. Total casualties 45,329.

"Look out to sea and say a prayer for those who rest beneath. They gave their lives that you may share a Europe that is free." Donald Hunter

side of plinthIn remembrance of Merchant Navy seamen who gave their lives in operation Neptune, the code-name for the D Day landing June 6th to September 1944, the large seaborne operation to land and supply our armies in Normandy, France. The objective was to free France and so complete the first phase of the liberation of Europe. One of these convoy routes was from London docks via the Dover Straits to Normandy. The enemy attacks along this convoy route along the French occupied and heavily fortified coast took a heavy toll in the lives of Merchant seamen. 

side of plinthThe Battle of the Atlantic. This was the longest battle of WWII which lasted from September 1939 to May 1945. During this battle the Merchant Navy sustained their heaviest losses of ships and their crews. In remembrance of those seamen who gave their lives in order to keep Britain's 'lifeline' open to transport troops and vital raw materials. They paid a heavy price

side of plinthThis Merchant Navy War Memorial was funded by donations to the Dover & District Merchant Navy Memorial Fund in remembrance of the Merchant Navy seamen who lost their lives in World War II.
Founder and fund-raiser Donald Hunter Legion d'Honneur MN (WWII) Sculptor Vivian Mallock

Ghurka band and standard bearers under white cliffs

Beneath the world-famous white cliffs, civilians and service people, many of them with memories of the war, others with special reason to be grateful for liberation, all of us kin to those who had served in war-time, came to pay their respects.

lovered standards





laying the wreath

Norwegain flag flower bed

The ambassador from Norway, Mr Bjarne LindstrÝm, laid a wreath at the nearby floral memorial to the Royal Norwegian Navy, who operated from Dover from 1940 to 1945, as did the 52nd (Norwegian) mine-laying flotilla between 1942 and 1945.

under the umbrella, Donald Hunter

The ceremony concluded with words from Donald Hunter. "My heartfelt thanks goes to the many individuals, veterans associations and corporations from Kent, throughout the United Kingdom, Canada and America who have Bernard Butchersupported our Fund with their donations, without their support this Memorial would not have been possible.

I believe this Memorial is long overdue, in Remembrance of those brave Merchant Navy sailors who gave their lives in WW2, in that fight for the freedom which we enjoy to-day."

The Chairman of the Dover District Council, Bernard Butcher, thanked everyone for attending. "Our generation was not born ... but our world could have been very different. We have a lot to be thankful for."

Alfred Webb

The Merchant Seaman now stands, forever gazing out upon the English Channel. Alert guardian of our shore,   perhaps he thinks too of the many afterwards, memorial and wreathscomrades he lost beneath the waters, their graves marked by white-flecked waves. 

One who returned was Alfred Webb. Maggie's father, he served on the Atlantic convoys. An engineer, working below the waterline, he heard vessels torpedoed around him. For the rest of his life, he never forgot the friends he left behind.

May they rest in peace.

Previous page - The Unveiling - 3rd September 2008

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