Ilkeston honours WW2 Navy comrades

Merchant Navy Day at Ilkeston war memorial in the market place. Lowered flags during the one minute silence.
Merchant Navy Day at Ilkeston war memorial in the market place. Lowered flags during the one minute silence.
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Flags flew high and moving speeches were made as Ilkeston honoured more than 40,000 brave comrades who perished during the Second World War.

The cenetaph in Ilkeston Market Place drew in a crowd when it marked the annual Merchant Navy Day on September 3.

Erewash Borough Council raised the Red Ensign – the flag commonly known as the ‘The Red Duster’, that flies on British Merchant Ships – at both Ilkeston and Long Eaton Town Halls to commemorate the occasion.

Wreath-laying ceremonies also took place on behalf of the residents of Erewash at the war memorials in Ilkeston and Long Eaton at 11am on the day.

The Merchant Navy was a reserved occupation, with merchant seamen not permitted to join the armed forces during the Second World War.

Merchant Navy seamen made an essential contribution to the war effort and each day 200,000 of them faced danger at sea to keep the country’s vital supply lines open.

Within hours of the start of the war, the first casualty happened as the liner ‘Athenia’ was torpedoed with the loss of 118 lives.

From that day until the war ended an average of more than one ship was lost every day, whilst battles with ‘U’ boats alone resulted in the sinking of over 2,500 merchant ships.

The Mayor of Erewash, Councillor Kewal Singh Athwal, said: “It is important to honour the role played by merchant seafarers during the Second World War, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Erewash Borough Council is proud to fly the ‘Red Duster’ above both its Town Halls in recognition of everything they did for this country.”