Hartlepool pays tribute to its seafaring heritage on Merchant Navy Day
Hartlepool has paid tribute to its seafaring heritage in a ceremony to mark Merchant Navy Day.
Councillor Brenda Loynes, the Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool, raised the Red Ensign flag in front of the town’s Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, on Friday.
She said her participation in the event was “close to her heart” as her own late father served in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War.
Cllr Loynes also praised the Merchant Navy for its continued “massive role in the wellbeing of our island nation” in the 21st Century.
She was joined at Friday’s ceremony by her husband and consort, Cllr Dennis Loynes, Petty Officer Jane Fox, the Commanding Officer of Hartlepool Sea Cadets, and council managing director Denis McGuckin.
Since the beginning of this century, September 3 has been the United Kingdom’s officially-designated Merchant Navy Day.
The date was chosen because on that day in 1939, at the start of the Second World War, the SS Athenia was the first Merchant Navy ship to be torpedoed and sunk, with the loss of 128 passengers and crew, after a German submarine attack in the Atlantic Ocean.
Councillor Brenda Loynes said: “This is a day which is especially close to my heart as my late father Captain Charles Noakes of the Merchant Navy served in the Second World War, including during the invasion of North Africa, when his ship came under heavy enemy attack.
“During the two World Wars our brave seafarers risked and in many cases gave their lives as they battled not only the enemy but also often appalling sea and weather conditions to keep our Armed Forces, our country and its allies supplied with vital food and equipment.
“Today, with more seaports and harbours and a longer coastline than any other European country, our dependence on the Merchant Navy for both our imports and exports has increased still further.
“The men and women of the Merchant Navy play a massive role in the wellbeing of our island nation and we owe them an immense debt of gratitude. I am very proud to pay tribute to them.”