Merchant Navy Day 2021

We invite you to join us in commemorating those who have served and lost their lives in the Merchant Navy. The below online service aired at 11am on Friday, 3 September.

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About Merchant Navy Day:

In 2010 the New Zealand Government announced that they would join Britain and other Commonwealth countries to commemorate those who served in the Merchant Navy during war time. The date chosen was 3rd September as this observes the sinking of the first British merchant ship in 1939, just hours after WWII was declared. 2021 marks the 82nd anniversary.

About Merchant Navy:

Several thousand New Zealanders have served in the Merchant Navy since WWI. These civilian volunteers sailed the ships that delivered troops, military equipment and vital cargoes of food, fuel and raw materials across the world's oceans. This work was so essential to the Allies' effort in WWII that the Merchant Navy was effectively regarded as the fourth service alongside the army, navy and air force.

Work on the ships was tough – but also full of adventure. Merchant seafarers often found themselves in the front lines of the war at sea. Many ships were torpedoed or bombed; survivors sometimes spent days or weeks in lifeboats before being rescued. More than 140 New Zealand merchant seafarers lost their lives during WWII, and a similar number were taken prisoner. No other group of New Zealand civilians faced such risks during wartime.



Keeping hope alive: the archives of Gratton J. (Colin) Grey

Able Seaman Gratton Gray was taken as a prisoner of war when his ship was captured by Japanese forces in World War Two. Read about his story and view some of his correspondence with loved ones back home in Wellington.

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