Nelson Leader : August 29th 2013
7 THE NELSON LEADER, AUGUST 29, 2013 NEWS Richmond Mall www.silvermoon.co.nz Remembering the Merchant Navy sacrifices By BILL MOORE email@example.com Recognising their sacrifice: Carrying the Red Ensign, the Merchant Navy Flag, is retired former seafarer Bob Howard, 81, who worked for the Nelson Harbour Board for 23 years. Photo: BILL MOORE Merchant Navy Association members and their families will gather in Anzac Park on Saturday to once again acknowl- edge the sacrifice of merchant sea- men in both world wars. Although many thousands of men who served on unarmed merchant ships were lost at sea, including 30,000 in World War II, their vital role was not acknowledged by the British Government until 2000. The New Zealand Government did not follow suit until 2010, when Merchant Navy Day was created. Since then the association's Nelson branch has worked to establish the annual parade as a recognised part of the city's wartime commem- orations. Merchant Navy Day is September 3 and the branch members parade on the nearest Saturday, supported by Iron Duke Sea Scouts and sea cadets of TS Talisman, who will form a guard of honour. Last year about 80 people attended, when guest speaker Ben Gibbs said that the youngest Merchant Navy members in World War II were only 14, the oldest 75 or more. Legally they had non-combatant or civilian status, but the Merchant Navy lost more men through enemy action, proportionately speaking, than any of the armed forces, he said. Only the German U-boats lost a higher proportion of their men.'' Branch president Tom Rowling said the Merchant Navy men had waited a long time to finally be acknowledged as the fourth service along with the army, navy and air force. Without the effort and contri- bution made by this service, no war would have been waged or won,'' he said. No exact figures were kept for the Merchant Navy but the New Zealand casualty list shows six were killed on New Zealand ships and about 100 became prisoners of war (POWs), five of whom died in captivity. On overseas ships at least 120 New Zealanders were killed and about 40 became POWs. On the trade routes between New Zealand and Britain alone, 64 merchant ships were sunk by enemy action. Saturday's parade is at the Anzac Park war memorial at 11am, with families and friends to gather at 10.45am. Piper Bryce Gilchrist will lead the parade and later will play a lament with the New Zealand Red Ensign dipped to half-mast. The Last Post and Reveille will be played by Dave Todd. Afterwards the branch will host a social gathering at the Suburban Club in Tahunanui.
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