Wreath filed and poem read in Llandudno to mark Merchant Navy Day

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BRANCH members gathered to mark Merchant Navy Day in Llandudno.

Members of the North Wales Merchant Navy Association branch were joined by their wives and two representatives each from the RNLI and HM Coastal Watch on September 3.

Despite a cold wind, members gathered from around 10:30 a.m., ready to start the memorial on time at 11:00 a.m.

Mike Ridehalgh, Chairman, said: “We thank the local harbor master’s office who kindly arranged our easy access to the memorial for wreathing and photographic purposes and a Red Duster was flying high and proudly nearby.

“Our crown was laid with due solemnity, followed by a few words.

“David Pritchard’s poem ‘Heroes’ has been read and appreciated by all for its straightforward description of sailors and what they have done and continue to do for our community and our country.

“A copy of this has been left at the memorial for members of the public to read if they wish.

“This was followed by the reading of a letter from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the Merchant Navy Association on the occasion of our Merchant Navy Day.

“We then went to the warmer climate of a local hotel business for morning coffee.”

The next group meeting will take place on Wednesday September 8 and thereafter on the second Wednesday of each month (not January).

Members continue to meet at the Cae Mor Llandudno Hotel.

Anyone wishing to contact the group can send an email to mnagc21@yahoo.com or call 07971221671.

Mike also shared the poem ‘Heroes’ for Pioneer readers.

Hero

Don’t tell me about heroes until you hear the story

British merchant seamen who sailed through storm and wind

To keep the lifelines open in our nation’s hour of need,

When a tyrant cast a shadow over our island race.

Captains, Lubricators, Cabin Boys, Journeymen, R / O and Engineers

Heard the call to duty and put their fears aside.

They fed those hungry boilers and got behind the wheel

While the cooks and stewards held the weapons on steel coffins.

They moved in icy convoys from Scapa to Murmansk

And crossed the western ocean, never looking for thanks.

They sailed into the South Atlantic where the raiders were waiting

And kept food chains open from Malta to Cape Town.

Tracked down by silent submarines that hunted from below

Bombed by powerful cannons and low-flying fighters

They clung to burning lifeboats where the sea had set ablaze

And saw their comrades disappear for everlasting glory

I’m not talking about a handful, but thirty thousand more

Some names we’ll never know that we trusted

They never knew the honor of the medals on their chest

Or marching bands and victory and glory and the rest.

The ocean is their resting place, their tombstone is the wind,

Seabirds cry their last goodbye to family and friends

Freighters, troop transports, liners and tankers by the score,

Fishing boats and coasters, two thousand vessels and more

Stole that proud Red Duster as they sank beneath the waves

And took these countless heroes to secluded graves by the ocean.

Their heritage is freedom for those who cherish it,

Walk with clear horizons and never hide in fear.

So when you talk about heroes, remember those at sea,

From the British Merchant Navy, who died to keep us free.

David Perdrix October 2002

Merchant-navy.net/poems/heroes.htm


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