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Merchant Navy Day ceremony honours seafarers of both World Wars

The red ensign was flown outside the town hall for Merchant Navy Day on Thursday, September 3.

Held since 2000, the day honours the men and women who kept vital supplies coming into the UK during both World Wars.

It also celebrates modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for more than 90 per cent of the UK’s imports, including almost half the food the nation eats.

At the ceremony in St Ives Road was the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Councillor Sayonara Luxton (Con, Sunningdale & Cheapside), leader of the council, Cllr Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams) and The High Sheriff of Berkshire, Mary Riall.

Also in attendance, were former seafarers including Ray Williams, 72, who was a Merchant Navy officer from 1964 to 1970.

Ray said: “At the end of the war [Winston] Churchill said, ‘if it hadn’t been for the Merchant Navy we would have lost
the war’.

“Because what Hitler tried to do, he tried to strangle the country by stopping all our imports, using his U-boats and sinking ships.”

He added: “Food and fuel, they were the most important things, and the Germans knew that if they stopped that coming in, eventually we’d have to give up.”

At the ceremony the mayor made a speech before the red ensign, the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag, was hoisted skyward.

Wreaths were then laid, and finally the chaplain of the Maidenhead branch of the Royal British Legion, Jeremy Harris, the vicar of All Saints Church in Church Close, Boyne Hill, read prayers dedicated to seamen and sailors.

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