Chairman’s Red Ensign honours the merchant seafarers

The Red Ensign was hoisted at Old County Hall in Aylesburythis morning (Thursday September 3) to honour the country’s seafarers.

Watchedby a small group of Buckinghamshire’s retired seamen – one of whom served on the original Queen Elizabeth – Sea Cadet Ben Kingraised the flag to mark national Merchant Navy Day.

Behind the initiative in Buckinghamshire was County Council Chairman Bill Chapple OBE, keen to honour the UK’s mercantile mariners.

‘We may be furthest you can get from the sea in Buckinghamshire, but we’re an island nation and werely on the men and women of our Merchant Navy for90% of our imports -including half the food we eat – andI want to pay tribute to them,’ said Bill.

The Chairman held a minute’s silence in memory of Merchant Navy seamen who died during World War II. On September 3 1939 – the first day of the war – the SS Athenia was the first merchant ship to be torpedoed with the loss of 128 passengers and crew.

Among the retired Merchant Navy personnel who stood in silence were Roger Taplin, from Little Marlow, who served on the Queen Elizabeth in the 1950s, and Keith Greenway, from Aylesbury, a research officer with the Barry branch of the Merchant Navy Association.

Later in the day Keith, whohas compiled an archive of Buckinghamshire’s Merchant Navy personnel serving in both world wars, laid a wreathto honour seafarers at the war memorial in Market Square, Aylesbury.

Other veteran seamen who watched the flag-raising included Stuart Shields, from Hazlemere, with 40 years service, and Peter Smith, from Monks Risborough, with eight years service.