Wreath laid and poignant poem read in Llandudno to mark Merchant Navy Day

zaphfrans

BRANCH members gathered together to mark Merchant Navy Day in Llandudno. North Wales Merchant Navy Association branch members were joined by their wives and two representatives from each of the RNLI and HM Coastal Watch on September 3. Despite a chill wind, members congregated from about 10.30am, ready to start […]

BRANCH members gathered together to mark Merchant Navy Day in Llandudno.

North Wales Merchant Navy Association branch members were joined by their wives and two representatives from each of the RNLI and HM Coastal Watch on September 3.

Despite a chill wind, members congregated from about 10.30am, ready to start the memorial on time at 11am.

Mike Ridehalgh, chairman, said: “We give thanks to the local Harbour Master’s office which had kindly arranged for our easy access to the memorial for wreath laying and photographic purposes and a Red Duster was flying high and proudly close by.

“Our wreath was laid with due solemnity followed by a few words.

“The Poem ‘Heroes’ by David Pritchard was read and appreciated by all for its simple description of seafarers and what they did and continue to do for our community and country.

“A copy of this was left at the memorial for members of the public to read should they so desire.

“This was followed by a reading of a letter from HM Queen Elizabeth II to the Merchant Navy Association in celebration of our Merchant Navy Day thence the gathering held a minute’s silence in respect of all those seafarers no longer with us.

“We then went our ways to the warmer climate of a local hostelry for morning coffees.”

The group’s next meeting will be on Wednesday, September 8 and thereafter the second Wednesday each month (not January).

Member continue to meet at the Cae Mor hotel Llandudno.

Anyone who wishes to contact the group can email [email protected] or telephone 07971221671.

Mike has also shared the Poem ‘Heroes’ for Pioneer readers.

Heroes

Don’t speak to me of heroes until you’ve heard the tale

Of Britain’s merchant seamen who sailed through storm and gale

To keep the lifelines open in our nation’s hour of need,

When a tyrant cast a shadow across our island breed.

Captains, greasers, cabin boys, mates, R/Os and engineers

Heard the call to duty and cast aside their fears.

They stoked those hungry boilers and stood behind the wheel

Whilst cooks and stewards manned the guns on coffins made of steel.

They moved in icy convoys from Scapa to Murmansk

And crossed the western ocean, never seeking thanks.

They sailed the South Atlantic where raiders lay in wait

And kept the foodlines open from Malta to the Cape.

Tracked by silent U-boats which hunted from below

Shelled by mighty cannons and Fighters flying low

They clung to burning lifeboats where the sea had turned to flame

And watched their shipmates disappear to everlasting fame

I speak not of a handful, but thirty thousand plus

Some names we’ll never know in whom we placed out trust

They never knew the honour of medals on their chests

Or marching bands and victory and glory and the rest.

The ocean is their resting place, their tombstone is the wind,

The seabirds’ cry their last goodbye to family and friend

Freighters, troopships, liners, and tankers by the score,

Fishing boats and coasters, two thousand ships and more

Flew that proud Red Duster as they sank beneath the waves

And took those countless heroes to lonely ocean graves.

Their legacy is freedom to those who hold it dear,

To walk with clear horizons and never hide in fear.

So when you speak of heroes, remember those at sea,

From Britain’s Merchant Navy, who died to keep us free.

David Partridge October 2002

Merchant-navy.net/poems/heroes.htm

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