Battle of Jutland Anniversary – Video Recognises Merchant Marine and Fishing Fleet Contribution to WWI (09.06.16)
National maritime charity, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, has marked the 100th anniversary of the Royal Navy’s largest and bloodiest naval engagement in WW1, the Battle of Jutland, by releasing a short video recognising the forgotten contribution and losses faced by merchant seafarers and fishermen during the 1914-18 conflict.
The video, filmed at the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s 36 Hours Jutland 1916 Exhibition, features Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Chief Executive, Commodore Malcolm Williams, talking about the 11,900 sailors and fishermen from 1,286 fishing vessels and merchant ships who perished during WW1 and have no grave but the sea. A memorial on Tower Hill commemorates their sacrifice but it’s a well-kept secret – never featured on Remembrance Sunday by the BBC and the memorial isn’t even marked on the London A-Z.
Malcolm Williams comments: “The battle of Jutland is rightly a natural focus for the losses the Royal Navy sustained in WW1, but for the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets there is, of course, no such single focus, just individual actions and stories of determination, initiative, courage and endurance. In this video we want to draw attention to these two neglected seagoing species of WW1.”
Britain entered the War with a Mercantile Marine of 9,500 vessels grossing 11.5 million tonnes. With a further 1,500 vessels from the Dominions this made up 48% of the world’s shipping. Losses were severe. In August 1915, 84 British Merchant ships and Fishing Vessels were sunk. By April 2017 it had risen to 210 with 1,139 lives lost in that month alone. By May 1917 British warehouses held only six weeks supply of food.
1914-19 – mines were no respectors of peace – the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society assisted some 51,000 sailors: Merchant Navy and Fishermen, by providing clothing, food, accommodation and rail warrants allowing them to return home to their loved ones. It also provided assistance to 2,656 widows, 4,724 orphans and 1,122 aged parents for whom the loss of the family breadwinner was devastating.
Now in its 177th year, the Society continues to provide financial support to fishermen and mariners and their dependants. Last year grants were provided in over 2,000 cases of need at a cost of £1.4 million.
Commodore Williams concludes by saying: “I hope that this year and in years to come the BBC, our national broadcaster, will include the Remembrance Sunday service at Tower Hill in its schedule to honour the men of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets and their vital contribution in two World Wars and the Falklands so their sacrifice and bravery will not be forgotten.”
Watch the Society’s commemorative video now:
For further details about the Charity’s work, contact the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society on 01243 789329 or visit the Who We Are page. You can also visit www.facebook.com/shipwreckedmariners or follow the charity on Twitter @ShipwreckedSoc.
Since 1839, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society has provided financial and practical help and assistance to fishermen and mariners and their dependants suffering hardship, misfortune or poverty, as a result of shipwreck, accidents at sea, illness or during retirement.