Red Ensign flies at County Hall

The Red Ensign is flying at County Hall today in recognition of Merchant Navy Day this weekend.

Somerset County Council is joining local authorities across the country in flying the flag, raising awareness of the UK’s on-going dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers and remembering the wartime sacrifices they made.

The Second World War broke out on 3 September and every year since 2000 this date has been marked as Merchant Navy Day. The flag will be flying at County Hall until Monday.

Councillor Rod Williams, Chairman of the Somerset Armed Forces Partnership, said: “Flying the Red Ensign this weekend is a visual demonstration of the debt we recognise to our merchant seamen, past and present.

“Throughout the twentieth century and two world wars, they carried the supplies we needed to survive and prosper. Now and in the future, they will be a vital part of our fortune as a country”.

The work of the Merchant Service during World War One led King George V to decree in 1928 that they should be known as the ‘Merchant Navy’. By the end of the Second World War more than 4,700 British ships had been sunk and more than 35,000 merchant seamen had lost their lives.

As an island nation the UK relies still on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95 per cent of its imports, including half the food we eat. The UK has the largest ports industry in Europe, with 75 per cent of our exports shipped from UK ports. Some of these ports will support the campaign by encouraging visiting ships to sound their horns at 10am on 3 September.

In December 2015, the Armed Forces Covenant was extended to cover members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) and the Merchant Navy. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation to those who serve, or have served, that they will be treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives. The civilian-manned RFA provides logistical and operational support that is an essential enabler to the Royal Navy’s global reach and influence.

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