View Full Version : Merchant Navy service is sunk by Council’s refusal to waive red tape

Doc Vernon
4th February 2018, 01:25 AM
A bit of an old Article i know but thought it may interest some !

Posted: 06 October 2017

Merchant seamen braved storms and German submarines during the First World War but a service to recognise their sacrifice has been defeated by a six-foot wide stretch of tarmac.The only national event for the merchant navy and fishing fleet during the war’s centenary commemorations has been cancelled after the City of London was accused of refusing to shut a short stretch of road.
The organisers of the service, arranged by leading maritime organisations and charities, said the road had to be closed for security reasons as the Princess Royal was due to be among the guests at the Merchant Navy Memorial overlooking the Tower of London.
Although the south half of the road is controlled by Tower Hamlets council, which readily agreed to the service, the other side of the dotted white line is part of the City of London. The organisers claim the City refused to allow the closure because the application was not made 12 weeks ahead of the event, which was before police had approved the security arrangements.
Cancellation of the service, which was timed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the convoy system, has led to anguish and anger for the relatives of those who perished.
The 400 invited guests due at the event on October 17 included 30 ambassadors and high commissioners of countries whose seafarers are among the 36,102 names on the memorial.
The Right Rev Peter Broadbent, the acting Bishop of London, was due to lead the service with music from the Royal Marine Band.
Buckingham Palace announced the Princess Royal’s attendance last week but confirmed yesterday that the event would no longer take place.
Commodore Malcolm Williams, chief executive of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, one of the groups that organised the service, condemned the cancellation as a “triumph of bureaucratic process”. He added: “When you think about the sacrifice and flexibility of those who served in the war, there seems to have been little of that in this process. It is extremely unfortunate that it has been cancelled at this late stage.”
Captain Malcolm Mathison, national vice-chairman of the Merchant Navy Association, said: “We had been working on this for two years. There are a lot of very unhappy people who felt they have been left out of the commemorations. I have been contacted by members who are very angry. There is a feeling that ‘we have done our job and now you’ve forgotten about us’.”
A Tower Hamlets spokesman said that the council had no objection to the event and had been supporting the organisers where possible.
In the First World War the Mercantile Marine lost 17,000 crew and 2,417 ships and the fishing fleet lost 675 vessels and 434 fishermen. The introduction of the convoy system in May 1917 reduced the losses and saved Britain from being starved into capitulation.
George V recognised that wartime service with the title Merchant Navy. The Queen is the “Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets”.
A City of London spokesman said: “At no stage was an official application submitted for an event or any road closure. The organiser was encouraged to follow event planning guidelines but did not engage with highways officers in the correct manner.”
Article as appeared in The Times, 6 October 2017.

Keith at Tregenna
4th February 2018, 01:32 AM
There was a post on this, thanks for the reminder

Should go ahead this year instead.

Will add details ASAP.


ADDED: http://www.merchant-navy.net/forum/meetings-reunions-and-memorial-days/32317-mn-commemoration-cancelled.html?highlight=Mercantile+Marine+Fishing +Fleets+1914-1918%3A+National+Service+Commemoration+CANCELLED

Des Taff Jenkins
4th February 2018, 04:11 AM
HI Vernon.
Too many people have short memories, that those men lost their lives to save Britain in the war is in living memory. I get incensed when our Pm goes to Japan and bows and scrapes to them at the same time attacking countries who were on our side fighting the Japs, again withing living memory. All we can do is remember the men who lost their lives, I remember a young lad who was at school with me albeit four years older than me; who's ship was torpedoed on his first trip and he was killed.
Lest We Forget.


Captain Kong
4th February 2018, 09:52 AM
I can remember Joe Farnworth age 17, of 17 Dougill St. Bolton, who went down on the Gloucester Castle when our Lou was saved,
I helped, with his brother, Dave, to carry his bags to the bus stop when he joined the ship. Three weeks later he was at the bottom of the Atlantic.
Another young lad age 14, Billy Dempster from the next street to me, 15 Settle St. Bolton, went down off Cape Race. Killed again by the Germans.

4th February 2018, 10:24 AM
#1.. Vernon nothing shocks me at the couldn’t care less materialistic feelings of today’s society. This couldn’t care less attitude.of today’s generation and that It has nothing to do with them, would certainly change if they realised it’s because of those that were lost that they exist. We at least saw the world as it really is warts and all, and not like it is seen via TV adverts for holiday making. Soon there will be no remembrance days as no one will remember, and will put all such thoughts out of their head as rapidly as they can. The Greater London Inner Council or whatever other title they assume for themselves shows the general attitude of most today. They are mostly all alien to British culture in any case, so that too is due for the disappearance act. Cheers JWS.

Red Lead Ted
4th February 2018, 01:30 PM
I had this conversation last night after taking my wife out for a meal, The couple sat next to us where very nice people, It turned out her father was a ships cook and sailed in the Arctic Convoys, I asked her did she still have his discharge book yes she said my brother has it, Have you claimed all his medals in particular his Arctic Convoy medal, Well he was only the cook and he never fired a gun or anything he never really spoke about it and has been gone since 1970, After quoting a few sacrifices and a little of what he went threw her husband became more interested and as he said your absolutely right we are an island nation surrounded by water and i suppose without Merchant Seaman we would have been starved into submission. We exchanged emails and promised to keep in touch by the end of the night he had a very different view on our once great Merchant Navy, And assured me he would obtain her fathers discharge book and go online to visit this forum and read a few posts on those who had it rough, If you read this Phil, Please add your views i for one would be very interested on what you manage to achieve by way of recognition for your long gone Father in law. They where men of steel and cook or not he was as much a part of it all as any of them in fact as the old saying goes you cant march an army on an empty stomach Regards Phil i await your email or reply Terry. :th_thth5952deef:

Captain Kong
4th February 2018, 01:53 PM
I think he should also get the Russian USHAKOV Medal as well.

4th February 2018, 02:50 PM
I haven’t really followed the medal trail, but what have picked up on here if hadn’t been for the Russian medal being offered, doubt if the British Artic one would ever have surfaced. Might be wrong but those who assist others might know better. JWS.

Keith at Tregenna
4th February 2018, 08:35 PM
Saturday, November 10, 2012

The British Arctic convoy heroes who risked their lives to help transport crucial supplies to Russia during World War II have been told they cannot accept a medal for valour from the country.

The Russian Embassy wrote to survivors of the notoriously perilous sea campaign - who saw 3,000 of their comrades killed - to inform them it intended to award them with the Medal of Ushakov as a symbol of the country's gratitude.

But the Foreign Office has blocked the Russian's government's plans to honour Britain's Arctic heroes, because it said it would break rules surrounding the acceptance of medals.

Russia has already awarded the Ushakov medal to veterans from Australia, Canada and the U.S. for their role in the Arctic convoys, which ferried vital supplies and munitions to the Soviet Union to help fight off the advance of Hitler between 1941 and 1945....

The Foreign Office said permission to accept a foreign award could not be given if a UK award had been given for the same services, and pointed out that the Arctic convoy veterans were eligible for the World War II Atlantic Star.

But after becoming prime minister Mr Cameron pointed to the extension of the Atlantic Star Medal to those who served in the Arctic as a mark of the nation's gratitude.

Thousands of Arctic convoy veterans told they cannot collect Russian bravery medals 'as it would break rules in this country' | Daily Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262366/Thousands-Arctic-convoy-veterans-told-collect-Russian-bravery-medals-break-rules-country.html)

I believe many said we have earned both, if there was a choice between one that was given in thanks, tribute and remembrance or another that appeared begrudged, Ushakov would be preferred.




Merchant navy heroes to receive second medal:

ARCTIC war veterans are set to receive their second medal.

For years, Second World War Arctic Convoy veterans were denied medals by the British Government.

However, this year, in a landmark turnaround, politicians have granted them not one, but two.

In June, former Merchant Navy seamen received the Arctic Star, which honours their part in transporting supplies to Russia between 1941 and 1945.

Last week, the men received a letter to say that they will also be awarded the Ushakov Medal from the Russian Government.

It has previously been denied to participants of Operation Dervish – the Arctic Convoys – but in June, Secretary of State William Hague said approval had been given for “an exception to the rules” on the acceptance of foreign awards.

Under current rules, medals can’t be accepted when more than five years have passed since the events.



Des Taff Jenkins
4th February 2018, 11:45 PM
Hi Keith.
I wonder if it counted if they got a medal of recognition from the US, France or any other Allied country. And with the upper class even Germany.
Cheers Des

5th February 2018, 01:28 AM
Even South Korea gave medals to allied troops serving during the peninsula war. My wife’s cousin received a long time ago and is often invited to return to commemorate the affair. He finished up as a colonel in the DLI (reserves) and am sure he wore amongst his British campaign ribbons. JWS

happy daze john in oz
5th February 2018, 05:20 AM
This is typical of so many councils and other gov departments.
Unless it fits with their political agenda you have 'Buckleys' of getting anywhere.
Had that been one of the other services there would have been no objection, but of course as far as they are concerned Merchant Navy is of no consequence to them.

5th February 2018, 05:49 AM
I must say on others advice on here I applied for the MN badge last year more to see what 0r if would get. It was here within the week courtesy of the MOD with the accompanying scrip.

Ministry of Defence ( Letterhead)
With the Compliments of The Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.

This UK Merchant Seafarers Veterans Badge is presented to you in recognition of your contribution to HM Armed Forces military operations.

Ministry of Defence.

The badge itself is marked with the insignia HM Armed Forces on the Red Duster, and marked in Gold Veteran.
The RN must at least keep records and if have few ships must keep records of same.

So Think there should be little excuse for those of the Russian Convoys to be hard to find.

Cheers JWS

Doc Vernon
5th February 2018, 05:55 AM
Got mine as well quite a while ago JS
It was a nice letter wasn't it! And yes I recall it dod not take long at all to arrive!

5th February 2018, 09:28 AM
##got mine through the vindi association in harrogate they just sent our discharge books of and if you were in a war zone or carrying arms etc for our forces to troubled areas you got the badge and letter ....it is a decent looking badge and lives in my ditty box ..who remembers a ditty box in which we kept our bits and bats ....mine was an old biscuit tin with anchors on cappy...in old time sayings it had in large letters ditty box ..and underneath cappsy his ditty box....kept my watch and letters from girl friends and an assortment of foriegn coins sharks teeth and a photo of my girlfriend of the time seamans identity card and inoculation papers and some old gold cufflinks which i never wore and sold for booze in brazil.....condoms and the old anti vd kit as most ships didnt carry them ....oh happy days

Captain Kong
5th February 2018, 11:25 AM
Got mine through the MNA.

Red Lead Ted
5th February 2018, 11:57 AM
My application took days i was amazed how quickly it arrived with the script from the M.O.D. Someone mentioned what was on the manifest as in cargo aboard your ship, After a little research i discovered that we supplied the peacekeeping force after the Brits pulled out of Aden in 1969, We carried not only food supplies but also munitions, Later into the 70s we supplied the same to the Brits posted in Belize. Although i got caught up in the Bangladesh/Pakistan war 1971, I have trawled the net but never found any recognition for being aboard the one of two surviving British M ships caught in the Bay of Bengal. It had nothing to do with G.B. But its quite obvious that Merchant shipping from all over the world was attacked. Then again what else would you expect from either the Indian or Pakistan government of the day 1971. Yet we still give 2% of our economy to these countries. :ban00000: Terry.

Dennis McGuckin
5th February 2018, 04:31 PM
Got mine through the MNA.

Likewise Brian.

6th February 2018, 01:54 AM
Sorry Cappy thought you said your titty box, and thought now why haven't I got one of those. Will have to get the magnifying glass out again. Hope the condoms aren't second hand. I think the 1/6d you reckon I owe you is in there as well. Its Rob who owes you money not me, last biscuit tin I saw on a British ship was the medical locker. JS

happy daze john in oz
6th February 2018, 05:04 AM
Sorry Cappy thought you said your titty box, and thought now why haven't I got one of those. Will have to get the magnifying glass out again. Hope the condoms aren't second hand. I think the 1/6d you reckon I owe you is in there as well. Its Rob who owes you money not me, last biscuit tin I saw on a British ship was the medical locker. JS

A simple 1/6 after so much time with compound interest rates over the years you could well be in debt for millions.

Des Taff Jenkins
6th February 2018, 05:45 AM
Hi Brian.
Got mine the same way as I was on one of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
Cheers Des

6th February 2018, 07:38 AM
Sorry Cappy thought you said your titty box, and thought now why haven't I got one of those. Will have to get the magnifying glass out again. Hope the condoms aren't second hand. I think the 1/6d you reckon I owe you is in there as well. Its Rob who owes you money not me, last biscuit tin I saw on a British ship was the medical locker. JS###its 3 and ninepence .......

6th February 2018, 12:34 PM
I must say on others advice on here I applied for the MN badge last year more to see what 0r if would get.

Cheers JWS

The MOD letter or citation enclosed with such badges should contain the recipient's name, rank, service or discharge book number, otherwise those who receive such awards can't prove it was awarded to them personally.
e.g. Someone who knows you could ask, did you buy that badge on E Bay?, You couldn't prove you didn't.


6th February 2018, 12:42 PM
Got the piece of paper that says was awarded. Have also taken the trouble to enscribe the years employed in Naval Party 1007 on the back. Would be no use. To anyone else. Cheers JWS.

6th February 2018, 02:02 PM
Run of the mill letters enclosed with these badges don't usually contain the name, rank or service numbers of recipients.
In my opinion, your achievements as Captain of the Silver Pit during Piper Alpha disaster deserved something better.


6th February 2018, 02:42 PM
Its no different from what anyone else got Fouro, except it was issued by the MOD. A copy of the letter is on the post. Vernon got the same. The inscription of name and dates of Naval Party servicewere put on by me, If was lost or stolen. They had my discharge book number as had to give on application. They gave the badge on recognition of MOD service. Maybe I should apply for another one elsewhere. The mod had nothing to do with my service elsewhere. Doubt they even knew about it. Cheers JWS

Dennis McGuckin
6th February 2018, 04:38 PM
Hi John, Wife paid 7/6 for the wedding certificate, as I was at sea.
Does that mean I am now worth a fortune?

6th February 2018, 10:43 PM
If your not Den no doubt she will be. Cheers JS

happy daze john in oz
7th February 2018, 05:23 AM
Hi John, Wife paid 7/6 for the wedding certificate, as I was at sea.
Does that mean I am now worth a fortune?

Well in 'bingo' terms 7and6, was she worth it?

Of course she bloody well was or you would never have married her.

Dennis McGuckin
7th February 2018, 04:28 PM
Yes she was. However would never let me pay her back.
Said I would always be in her dept.
So true.

happy daze john in oz
8th February 2018, 05:48 AM
Yes she was. However would never let me pay her back.
Said I would always be in her dept.
So true.

But Den, true love covers all costs.

john middleton
25th February 2018, 12:06 PM
Hope you all watched or recorded the programme on T.V.
the other night about the Russian convoys
PQ 17 a complete avoidable disaster, a must for seamen old and new
well narrated by Jeremy Clarkson.

Keith Tindell
25th February 2018, 03:18 PM
Did indeed John, there is a post from me entitled PQ17, and my post got me into a bit of trouble, kt