Author Topic: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy  (Read 4905 times)

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Offline MickG

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Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« on: 08 September, 2014, 01:14:57 AM »
Louise and anyone else who may have lost family while serving in the Merchant Navy.

There is an annual service to the fallen of the Merchant Navy held at the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill. This year it was on Sunday 8th September.

Sometimes the event is referred to as Red Duster Day. The photograph below was taken by someone at the service and I trust it is of interest of anyone concerned.


Offline DougT

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #1 on: 08 September, 2014, 09:06:39 AM »
Mick, Thanks for posting the photograph of the Memorial Service. Strangely a small group from The Salvation Army Band that I play in had an engagement at Chelsea Salvation Army yesterday morning and we needed to pass along Tower Hill and saw people leaving the service on our return journey shortly after lunch time. One of my colleague bandsmen who was in the same car remarked that he would normally have attended the service in his capacity as Chief Executive of the Queen Victoria Seamens' Rest but had to send a representative this year as the dates clashed.

Offline miloson24

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #2 on: 18 April, 2015, 02:10:42 PM »
I cannot get to a place of Rememberance this morning my-self, but in my HEART & MIND shall be with
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Offline GEORGIAN

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #3 on: 05 May, 2015, 08:12:12 AM »
Hello Mick.G,

We have a  very dear family friend who  is over 92, years of age,  and who  was in the royal navy, for the whole of the second world war, and served on a number of merchant ships as a gunner, but classified as  D.E.M.S. (although there are many references to D.E.M.S they are mostly about  the Canadian royal navy who also served on many merchant ships too, But little or no reference is mentioned about the sailors in the royal navy , ????)  why there was little or no reference to the royal  navy  D.E.M.S is  small wonder, and why have they been forgotten, ??

there was a period during the war where by merchant ships hadn't any defence against submarines or air plane attacks, and so the order was for each ship to have a very small crew of sailors aboard who's sole purpose,was to defend the ship from attack. and many ships particularly in convoys to Russia and elsewhere in the world also had sailors aboard (being as they were trained especially to defend the ship. With a small 4 inch gun, and small fire arms,)

It sadly seems that this branch of the royal navy has been greatly over looked, and now sadly many of these brave sailors also have largely been forgotten, and sadly passed away, wondering why they too haven't been recognised for their bravery.

Our friend served on a number of artic convoys to Russia , and knows all about frostbite and short dark wintery days with little or no sun light, and all the hardships that many sailors throughout the world in many theatres of war also had to suffer, and go through, in all types of weather,

It sadly means that now these brave men will be virtually  forgotten as the powers that be, was busy quite rightly so in recognising  all the other brave people too, in the other armed services,  and who also served to liberate and give us the freedom which we have today,  how ever, it would be a nice thing to see the royal navy D.E.M.S  also  being recognised for the bravery and hardship that they too also went through,

Many regards to you all,

GEORGIAN,








Offline MickG

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #4 on: 05 May, 2015, 09:07:40 AM »
Hello Georgian,

Yes it is sad when various branches of those who served in the war effort are not recognised as a group. It is only in recent years following campaigns that some of these groups are now starting to be recognised but again sadly, too late for many of the recipients who have passed on. Groups like Bletchley Park and the Merchant Marine Service on Russian convoys spring immediately to mind but I am sure there must be many more, some whom we are simply unaware of.

The services of groups so desperately needed in times of war are often as quickly forgotten by the bureaucrats that required them in the first place. I am certain this is a trend that happens in all countries, the Vietnam Vets for example, but such deliberate official forgetfulness does seem particularly high in this country.

Even a grateful Russia produced a campaign medal for our lads who served on Russian convoys but I think these were not allowed to be publically worn by some groups for political reasons.

I did a quick check on D.E.M.S and although individuals won bravery awards, I could find no specific campaign medal for that group. There in now however an Arctic Star medal  for seamen who served on Russian convoys which possibly your friend is entitled to. I have added the link below.


http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2013/february/26/130226-arctic-convoy-heroes-can-begin-applying-for-their-ww2-campaign-medal-now

Offline GEORGIAN

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #5 on: 05 May, 2015, 03:50:57 PM »
Hello Mick G

Thank you  Mick, for your comments, yes I believe my friend has got the artic star medal, and some other Medals too to which im not sure to what they were awarded for, however as you say there are other groups too, who also deservedly need recognition,  and as you say it would be nice before its too late, that they too get their just rewards, and medals too,. Deservedly so,.

now sadly time  is of the essence, and has almost run its course,
well we all live in the hope that  some bureaucrat or other sits up and acts, sooner rather than later,

many regards to you

GEORGIAN,

Offline cockney gel

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #6 on: 31 May, 2015, 04:53:39 PM »
Hello Georgian,
 l was so glad to see your message. l have also long wondered why that group have never had the recognition for their part in the War.  My Dad was a Royal Navy D.E.M.S GUNNER [Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship]. When Merchant ships took on the protection, it was always the Royal Navy gunners on the stern guns of the ships and the Royal Artillery gunners on the bow guns. l have researched some of my Dads' Wartime Service record, but had trouble at the beginning, because l didn't know that the men were always down on the ships crew-list as 'deckhands' and are always at the end of the list. This was because the Merchant ship would be loaded with its' cargo first and they would join it when the ship was ready to go.
l applied and received the Arctic Star on behalf of my Dad, who unfortunately died a few years ago. He was annoyed that successive govts had refused to strike a Medal for the Arctic Convoys, not for himself but in recognition of all those poor souls who never came back. This was because of politics and the Cold War. At least that wrong has been put right, but unfortunately most of those brave men who did survive are no longer here to get that recognition. Another thing that he was unhappy about was the fact that when a ship went down [he was torpedoed 3 times] the Military men onboard continued to be paid, but the Merchant seamens' wages were stop on that day and didn't start again until they joined another ship.

Offline cockney gel

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #7 on: 31 May, 2015, 05:42:03 PM »
Ooops! Sorry folks, l left a bit out[got sidetracked!!]

Completely left out in the bit about the Cold War and politics, that that was the reason why our govts. wouldn't recognise or allow our Arctic Convoy Veterans to wear the medals that the Russian govt awarded, alongside our own Medals. The Russians have struck these every ten years since the end of the War.

Ed

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #8 on: 15 August, 2015, 02:25:43 AM »
Hello all,

My granddad was in the Merchant Navy during the war. We even have one of his earliest Merchant Seaman Books that is stamped with all ship he was on etc. This particular book was in his coat pocket at home while on leave. And when an incendiary bomb landed in the street. One of his relatives grabbed my granddad's jacket, ran outside and tried to put the incendiary bomb out. The book was burnt in half and still smells of the fire.

He was ships that were hit by torpedoes.

Always wanted to find out more about his merchant navy service during the war. And any folk who served with him on the same ships.

Offline cockney gel

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #9 on: 18 August, 2015, 09:57:20 PM »
Hello Ed,
 Have you done any research into your Granddads' Service Record? lf you have the names of any of the ships he was on, it's possible to find the crew lists on-line at the National Archives. Funnily enough, l was able to find out more about my Dads' Records because he had been a D.E.M.S. gunner for most of the War. The Merchant Ships had to keep crew lists for every sailing, [probably for their shipping line bosses] so a record would be kept about all the sailors, places the ships went to, and what cargo they would carry. Whereas the records for sailors on Destroyers etc  only show the length of time they served on it. There used to be a very useful website called Mercantile Marine that was a mine of information with a lot of knowlegible people ready to help, but sadly that seems to have folded.
GEORGIAN,
 The Medals that your friend has will include the '39-'45 Star, another one that l just can't remember, [it's round and silver with red white and blue ribbon] something to do with defence? Then he probably has the Atlantic Star [for the Atlantic Convoys], which they said at the time included the Arctic Convoys, even though they were entirely different theatres. There was also the North Africa Star, and probably others.
   

Ed

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #10 on: 21 August, 2015, 02:31:54 AM »
Hello Ed,
 Have you done any research into your Granddads' Service Record? lf you have the names of any of the ships he was on, it's possible to find the crew lists on-line at the National Archives. Funnily enough, l was able to find out more about my Dads' Records because he had been a D.E.M.S. gunner for most of the War. The Merchant Ships had to keep crew lists for every sailing, [probably for their shipping line bosses] so a record would be kept about all the sailors, places the ships went to, and what cargo they would carry. Whereas the records for sailors on Destroyers etc  only show the length of time they served on it. There used to be a very useful website called Mercantile Marine that was a mine of information with a lot of knowlegible people ready to help, but sadly that seems to have folded.
GEORGIAN,
 The Medals that your friend has will include the '39-'45 Star, another one that l just can't remember, [it's round and silver with red white and blue ribbon] something to do with defence? Then he probably has the Atlantic Star [for the Atlantic Convoys], which they said at the time included the Arctic Convoys, even though they were entirely different theatres. There was also the North Africa Star, and probably others.
   

Hello cockney gel,

I'm no good with researching. Have entered some of ships my granddad was on before and to the start of the war (which are stamped in his book) but get nowhere. Its a pity because we would love to know more about him. ..I suppose I will have to concentrate on my relatives who were at Dunkirk, North Africa and Italy. All from west ham.

Offline alffox

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #11 on: 21 August, 2015, 10:56:03 AM »
Ed,

I think you have my email address and I would like to help you locate some details of your Grandfather's Merchant Navy Ships. If you can send me the names I will try and locate some of the ship's histories.

Regards - Alffox

Ed

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #12 on: 21 August, 2015, 10:49:23 PM »
Thank you kindly, I have sent you a personal message.

Ed

Offline cockney gel

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Re: Tower Hill Memorial Service for Merchant Navy
« Reply #13 on: 02 November, 2015, 09:23:24 PM »
Hello Brenda B.
 Yes, l did watch that programme, thanks. lt's one of a series every morning this week for Remembrance. Don't know if it will be on next week too, but it's on at 9.15-10.00 on BBC1. lt's called The People Remember, and is well known people talking about one of their relatives and the part they played in WW2, or their own experience. Todays' was Si King, one half of the Hairy Bikers. His Dad had been on Convoys, including the Arctic Convoys. l was a bit surprised that, considering he knew about his Dads' experiences and which Ships he was on during the War, that he hadn't known about or applied for the Arctic Star. Anyway, he was presented with one on his Dads' behalf on the programme, and was a bit emotional.
 Also on the programme were two Veterans who had also been on the Arctic Convoys, and one of them was actually a D.E.M.S. Gunner, the same as my Dad. This is the first time l have heard them mentioned. Surprising, considering the job they did.