Erewash Borough Council will honour more than 40,000 brave comrades who perished during the Second World War when it takes part in the national Merchant Navy Association’s commemorations.

On Saturday 3 September the council will fly the Red Ensign – the flag, commonly known as the ‘The Red Duster’ that flies on British Merchant Ships – at Ilkeston and Long Eaton Town Halls. Wreath-laying ceremonies will also take place on behalf of the residents of Erewash at the cenotaph in Ilkeston and at the war memorial in Long Eaton at 10.50am. The Mayor, Councillor John Sewell, will lay the wreath at Long Eaton and Councillor Carol Hart, the Leader of the Council, will lay the wreath at Ilkeston.

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 – 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 more than 2,500 merchant ships.

The Mayor of Erewash, Councillor John Sewell BEM, says:

“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’ at both its Town Halls in recognition of everything they did for this country.”

Residents are welcome to join the council in remembrance of the Merchant Navy and seafarers past and present.