The British Merchant Navy’s iconic red flag will be flown outside Oakham Library on Tuesday 3rd September to mark Merchant Navy Day 2019.
Merchant Navy Day is celebrated throughout the UK on 3rd September each year – the day that marked the start of the Second World War in 1939 and which saw the first British maritime casualty of the conflict, the sinking of the merchant vessel SS Athenia. Torpedoed just hours after hostilities were declared, it resulted with the tragic loss of 128 passengers and crew.
Although many thousands more would meet the same fate in the hostilities that followed, it is for this reasons that 3rd September has come to be recognised as ‘Merchant Navy Day’. This is to honour the men and women who supplied Britain during both World Wars, as well as those who continue to face the routine perils of long voyages at sea.
Rutland will be joining local councils around the UK in flying the Merchant Navy’s Red Ensign or "Red Duster" (as it is affectionately known) outside Oakham Library at 10.00am on Tuesday 3rd September. The flag will also be flown from other locations in Oakham throughout the week.
Councillor Ian Razzell, an Armed Forces Champion for Rutland County Council, said: “Merchant Navy Day allows us to show our support and appreciation for those who have helped to keep our country going during the best and worst of times. We are all indebted to the Merchant Navy for their contribution to the defence of our nation throughout both World Wars. Even today, we are dependent on shipping for almost all of our imports, including half of the food we eat. We should all be incredibly thankful to the Merchant Navy for the essential job they do.”
Councillor Razzell added: “This is a public event and the local community are welcome to attend. In particular, we hope to see many of our maritime veterans on the day as we remember the fallen of the Merchant Navy and raise the Red Duster.”
Merchant Navy Day was first recognised on 3rd September 2000 and is supported by local authorities across the UK.
For more information about Merchant Navy Day and how to show your support for the Merchant Navy, please visit the Merchant Navy Day website.