I was honoured and privileged to represent the Master at the annual Merchant Navy Day Commemorative Service and Reunion at Trinity Square Gardens on Sunday 4th September. Our Company is one of four Livery Companies attending the Service, the others being the Master Mariners, the Shipwrights and the Watermen & Lightermen. Having worked in LPG shipping for two decades, this service has a personal resonance for me.
After refreshments at Trinity House, we assembled in Trinity Gardens, watching the national patron of the Merchant Navy Association The Rt Hon. the Lord West of Spithead GCB DSC inspect the guard of honour from HMS President. The service was led by the Vicar of All Hallows and commenced with a welcome by the Parade President Commodore David Eagles RFA, well known to the Fuellers due to our Affiliation with the RFA’s Wave vessels.
A moving service, that remembered the 80th anniversary of Operation Pedestal Convoy a convoy of 50 ships destined for Malta during August 1942. More than 500 Merchant and Royal Navy sailors and airmen were killed and only 5 of the 14 merchant vessels reached Malta’s Grand Harbour.
The days also commemorated the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands Conflict. The merchant navy played a very active role in support of the task force, also suffering losses. I confess I had not previously noticed the separate memorial in the Gardens to that conflict (pictured), but wreaths were also laid there, prior to the main acts of remembrance at the Memorial that commemorates men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets lost in WW1 and WW2.
The service over, we were entertained to refreshments at All Hallows and a few well-chosen words about the day, and the importance of the service, with special mention to those veterans in attendance.
Past Master & Chairman of the Fuellers’ Charitable Trust