Protection of the war graves of seamen

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Peter
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Protection of the war graves of seamen

Post by Peter » 27 Oct 2003 12:17

Did you know that if a diver explores the wreck of a merchant ship sunk 1939-45 he can legally bring up anything he likes as a souvenir including human remains such as skulls. There is no protection at all even under the recent legislation (Protection of Military Remains Act) for merchant seamen killed in wartime.

Following the discovery of a skull in a shop window (Hastings or Brighton, Sussex) a small group are fighting to safeguard the last resting places of these heroes.

Theoretically if a merchant ship was sunk but it had a single Royal Navy or Royal Marine or Army gunner serving aboard, then the death of that single man safeguards the entire ship as his last resting place would be safeguarded by the act.

How invidious is that !

I cannot believe how badly the merchant seamen have been treated - seamen who performed acts of extraordinary gallantry received a British Empire Medal - just the same as is normally given to a long serving clerk in British Telecom, an officer who had his stomach ripped wide open when his ship was sunk kept another wounded seaman afloat for some time until they were both rescued and was awarded an MBE - an inferior grade of the medal given to the Beatles or various football stars - MADNESS.

The merchant navy suffered a higher percentage of casualties than any branch of the British armed forces and yet a merchant seaman has to fight for entry into the Royal British Legion when a soldier of the Army Pay Corps who never even served abroad has an automatic right of entry.

Crazy.

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Aufklarung
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Post by Aufklarung » 27 Oct 2003 17:35

In Canada we waited a long time but things have been somewhat corrected.
The discrimination was corrected legislatively on March 26, l999: Wartime merchant seamen were recognized as veterans.

From:
http://www.halifaxherald.com/stories/20 ... 7.raw.html

regards
A :)

Peter
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Post by Peter » 27 Oct 2003 17:43

Thanks A
the link is interesting, I hope that one day before all of our veterans are gone that the British government will get it right.
Pete

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Matt H.
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Post by Matt H. » 27 Oct 2003 17:51

Iltis, all I can say is that I agree with you entirely. Every time a merchant seaman boarded his ship, he did so in the knowledge that he was running a most deadly gauntlet - with little means of fighting back also, possibly a single 20mm or 40mm deck gun at the most. If the title of "unsung heroes" can be applied, that is certainly the case here.

Peter
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Post by Peter » 27 Oct 2003 18:00

When you stop to think that for the first 2 years of the war the merchant seamans pay was stopped the minute his ship was sunk, so he spent his days adrift in an open boat - UNPAID - it really makes you wonder what was going on.

Literally almost 1 in 4 of the seamen at sea in the winter of 1939 had been killed by the end of the war. Something should be done to recognise these blokes properly.

Pete

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 28 Oct 2003 23:21

Well I can't say I'm surprised given our country's woeful record when it comes to it's service personel.

The Politicians praise us to the heavens in public and then let the civil servants bury us in s*** out of the publics gaze.

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Post by varjag » 30 Oct 2003 12:22

Iltis wrote:When you stop to think that for the first 2 years of the war the merchant seamans pay was stopped the minute his ship was sunk, so he spent his days adrift in an open boat - UNPAID - it really makes you wonder what was going on.

Literally almost 1 in 4 of the seamen at sea in the winter of 1939 had been killed by the end of the war. Something should be done to recognise these blokes properly.

Pete
Noble thought Iltis - but what good would it do them? Britain today could not afford law suits for compensation to all the unsung heroes grandchildren. They are - IMO just ONE example of the callousness with which Emperor Churchill strived to retain the empire of his peers, that was already lost at 11AM on Sept. 3rd, 1939.

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Englander
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Post by Englander » 30 Oct 2003 22:30

Good post all.
Literally almost 1 in 4 of the seamen at sea in the winter of 1939 had been killed by the end of the war. Something should be done to recognise these blokes properly.

They are not totally forgotten http://www.saintjohn.nbcc.nb.ca/~Herita ... Marine.htm
Image

When you stop to think that for the first 2 years of the war the merchant seamans pay was stopped the minute his ship was sunk, so he spent his days adrift in an open boat - UNPAID - it really makes you wonder what was going on.

On leave,they were seen as draft dodgers(No uniforms).
Btw,my uncle survived four different ship sinkings.

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