DOVER & DISTRICT MERCHANT NAVY MEMORIAL FUND
Founder and Chairman: Donald Hunter M.N. (Rtd)
Patron: Admiral the Lord Boyce GCB OBE DL Lord Warden and
Admiral of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle.
Treasurer: Tim Brant M.N. (Rtd)
Donald Hunter, the Founder and Fund-Raiser, raised the finance to build the new
Merchant Navy War Memorial which was unveiled in Dover, Kent on Merchant Navy Day 3rd September 2008.
This war memorial is in Remembrance of the Merchant Navy sailors who gave their lives in the Second World War (1939 - 1945).
The 2m 80cm bronze figure of a Merchant Navy sailor which stands in Marine Parade Gardens, Marine Parade, Dover and faces the harbour entrance ".
The New Dover Memorial
The memorial was unveiled by Winston Spencer Churchill on the 3rd September 2008.
This is the speech he made at the unveiling ceremony.
The Heroes who Saved Britain from Starvation & Surrender
Tribute to the Merchant Navy in WW2
by Winston S. Churchill,
President of the UK National Defence Association.
Mr Mayor, Veterans & Families of Britain’s Merchant Navy, Ladies & Gentlemen, I feel deeply honoured to be invited to unveil this splendid memorial in the famous fortress-city & harbour of Dover – one of the Cinque Ports of which my Grandfather was so proud to be Lord Warden.
It is my privilege to formally thank and congratulate most warmly Mr Donald Hunter & his wife Jean for their untiring efforts over more than three years to raise the almost £50,000 required to realise this splendid memorial to the men of our Merchant Navy and their heroic service in the Second World War.
I wish also to express our thanks to the Mayor & Corporation of Dover for providing this fine location for the Memorial, sculpted by Vivien Mallock, which is a worthy addition to the trophies of this great city, which has traditionally stood in the path of any would be invader of these isles.
May I say how delighted I am that we have with us today a band of our gallant Gurkhas!
Above all, it falls to me to pay tribute to the gallantry & sacrifice of the men of our Merchant Navy, who played an indispensable part in our nation’s very survival in World War 2, and in our ultimate Victory.
It is no exaggeration to say that, but for their dedication & courage in braving the elements, including thick coatings of ice on the Arctic convoys to Murmansk & Archangel, and the U-boat menace on the Atlantic convoys, our famous island might have been forced into submission.
They provided our lifeline of food & war-materiel and, as the hour of Victory approached, they played a key role in Operation Neptune, in support of the D-Day invasion Normandy & of the Allied armies engaged in the Liberation of Europe.
This memorial honours their sacrifice. No fewer than 2,627 of our ships were sunk with a gross tonnage of 11.4 M tonnes. Britain’s Merchant Navy suffered 45,329 casualties, including 30,248 killed. Indeed one in three of our merchant seamen did not survive the war.
I can do no better than to quote my Grandfather Winston Churchill’s tribute to the men of the Merchant Navy, made in a BBC broadcast on the BBC on 27 April 1941:
In order to win this war, Hitler must either conquer this island by invasion or he must cut the ocean lifeline which joins us to the United States.... Wonderful exertions have been made by our Navy and our Air Force......by the men who build and repair our immense fleet of merchant ships, by the men who load and unload them, and, need I say, by the officers and men of the Merchant Navy, who go out in all weathers and in the teeth of all dangers to fight for love of their native land and for a cause they comprehend and serve.
Still, when you think how easy it is to sink ships at sea and how hard it is to build and protect them, when you remember we never have less than 2,000 ships afloat and 300 to 400 in the danger areas, when you think of the great armies we maintain...and the world-wide traffic we have to carry, can you wonder that it is the Battle of the Atlantic which holds the first place in the thoughts of those upon whom rests the responsibility for procuring the victory?
(from a BBC broadcast of 27 April 1941; Gilbert: The Churchill War Papers: The Ever Widening War, vol. 3, p. 553)
In another speech, in July 1941, at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, Churchill declared:
The Merchant Navy, with Allied comrades night and day, in weather fair or foul, faces not only the ordinary perils on the sea, but the sudden assaults of war from beneath the waters or from the sky. Your first task is to bring to port the cargoes vital for us all at home or for our armies abroad and we trust your tenacity and resolve to see this stern task through....
We are a seafaring race and we understand the call of the sea. We account you in these hard days worthy successors in a tradition of steadfast courage and high adventure, and we feel confident that that proud tradition of our Island will be upheld today wherever the ensign of a British merchantman is flown.
Let us ever honour the memory of these heroic seafarers. It now gives me the greatest pleasure to unveil this memorial & I conclude by quoting the fine poem that Donald Hunter, this memorial’s author, has penned & which are engraved upon it:
Look out to sea and say a prayer
For those who rest beneath
They gave their lives, that you may share
A Europe that is free.
Mr Winston S Churchill unveiling the memorial.
Founder and Chairman Donald Hunter M.N. (Rtd) unveiling speech;
3 years ago to-day, on Merchant Navy Day 2005, at the Dover Town Hall, I proposed a Fund to build a Merchant Navy War Memorial in Dover.
A few weeks later I was Founder & Fund-raiser of the Dover & District Merchant Navy Memorial Fund and Tim Brant the Treasurer. Tim has been such a great help to me, so I give him my sincere thanks.
So on this very special day, I am very proud and privileged to see this excellent Memorial by sculptor Vivien Mallock, in place on such an appropriate site on the seafront facing the harbour entrance.
I am also very proud that Winston Spencer Churchill has consented to unveil our Memorial this morning and to be with us on this very special occasion. I warmly thank him for this.
I am sure his Grandfather, Sir Winston, would have given his approval for this Merchant Navy Memorial.
Over £46,000 has been raised in these last 3 years and my heartfelt thanks goes to the many individuals, veterans associations and corporations from Kent, throughout the United Kingdom, Canada and America
who have supported our Fund with their donations, without their support this Memorial would not have been possible.
I believe this Memorial is long overdue, in Remembrance of those brave Merchant Navy sailors who gave their lives in WW2, in that fight for the freedom which we enjoy to-day.
I should like also to thank the Chairman of Dover District Council, Cllr. Bernard Butcher who had faith in this project and gave it his full backing and help, as indeed did Cllr. Pat Heath, the previous Chairman.
Gentlemen ! may I say, yes we got there in the end.
Also the Town Councils of Dover, Sandwich, Deal and the Kent County Council.
Thank you, to all of you for coming and supporting this unveiling service to-day.
The follow are the inscriptions on the bottom of the plinth.
Front of Plinth.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF
MERCHANT NAVY SEAMEN WHO LOST THEIR LIVES
IN WORLD WAR ll 1939 - 1945
THEY SUSTAINED HEAVY LOSSES,
1 IN 3 OF MERCHANT NAVY SEAMEN
DID NOT SURVIVE THE WAR.
MERCHANT NAVY SEAMEN KILLED 30,248
PRISONER OF WAR 5,720
TOTAL OF CASUALTIES; 45,329
Look out to sea and say a prayer
For those who rest beneath
They gave their lives that you may share
A Europe that is free.
Donald Hunter 2008
Left side of Plinth.
‘BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC’
THIS WAS THE LONGEST BATTLE OF WW ll
WHICH LASTED FROM
SEPTEMBER 1939 UNTIL MAY 1945.
DURING THIS BATTLE THE MERCHANT NAVY
SUSTAINED THEIR HEAVIEST LOSSES OF SHIPS
AND THEIR CREWS.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE SEAMEN
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN ORDER
TO KEEP BRITAINS 'LIFELINE' OPEN
TO TRANSPORT TROOPS
AND VITAL WAR MATERIALS.
THEY PAID A HEAVY PRICE.
Rear of plinth
This Merchant Navy War Memorial
was funded by donations to the
'Dover & District Merchant Navy Memorial Fund',
in remembrance of the Merchant Navy seamen
who lost their lives in World War ll.
Founder & Fund-Raiser:
Donald Hunter, Legion d'Honneur M.N. (WW ll)
Sculptor: Vivien Mallock
Right side of plinth
IN REMEMBRANCE OF
MERCHANT NAVY SEAMEN
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN
THE CODE-NAME FOR THE D-DAY LANDINGS
JUNE 6TH TO SEPTEMBER 1944.
THE LARGE SEABORNE OPERATION TO LAND
AND SUPPLY OUR ARMIES IN NORMANDY, FRANCE.
ITS OBJECTIVE WAS TO FREE FRANCE,
AND SO COMPLETE THE FIRST PHASE OF THE
'LIBERATION OF EUROPE'.
ONE OF THESE CONVOY ROUTES
TO THE LANDING BEACHES
WAS FROM LONDON DOCKS VIA THE DOVER STRAIT
THE ENEMY ATTACKS ON THIS CONVOY ROUTE
ALONG THE FRENCH OCCUPIED & HEAVILY FORTIFIED
COAST TOOK A HEAVY TOLL
IN LIVES OF MERCHANT SEAMEN.
Link to This is Kent Website Gallery Page of Dover Merchant Navy Memorial Day September 2011
Link to United Kingdom National Inventory of Memorials
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Clips from BBC South east News and Kent TV showing the ceremony.
St Mary the Virgin, Dover.
The following is a full report of the quarter peal as recorded by St Mary the Virgin, Dover on 3rd September 2008.
A quarter peal involves ringing at least 1250 different permutations or "changes"; a peal, being at least 5000 changes, would have taken about three hours. Cambridge Surprise is the name given to the particular formula or "method" we used in this case to generate the changes, the classification Surprise implying a certain degree of complexity. "Major" is the suffix used to indicate that all eight bells were involved in the changes.
THE KENT COUNTY ASSOCIATION
On Wednesday, 3rd September, 2008, in 46 minutes,
AT THE CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN,
A QUARTER PEAL OF 1280 CAMBRIDGE SURPRISE MAJOR
Tenor 15 cwt 2 qr 9 lb in E flat
Treble. Dr Donald H Niblett - Canterbury, St. Stephen's
2. Mrs Ruth S Niblett - Canterbury, St. Stephen's
3. Mrs Pamela A Manger - Frittenden, St. Mary's
4. Peter T Dale - Dover, St. Mary's
5. * Robert B Powell-Williams - Dover, St. Mary's
6. David C Manger - Frittenden, St. Mary's
7. Andrew J Corby - Canterbury Cathedral
Tenor. Thomas M Barlow - Maidstone, St. Michael's
Conducted by Andrew J Corby
* First of Surprise Major
Rung on Merchant Navy Day for the unveiling of the Merchant Navy War Memorial on Dover seafront by Winston Spencer Churchill, grandson of the wartime leader.
MERCHANT NAVY DAY 2010
Dover Memorial Project
HISTORY OF OUR FUND
In a speech at Dover Town Hall on Merchant Navy Day September 2005, I proposed that a fund be launched to build a permanent Merchant Navy Memorial overlooking Dover Harbour. Present were the Dover District Council’s Chairman Cllr. Pat Heath, Councillors and the Mayors of Dover, Sandwich and Deal. Also present was Dover’s Member of Parliament Mr Gwyn Prosser.
The general view expressed by the Chairman Cllr. Pat Heath, the three Mayors and Councillors also Mr Gwyn Prosser and many others, was that ‘it was time we had such a memorial’.
I therefore became the Founder of a fund, which is now called the ‘Dover & District Merchant Navy Memorial Fund’ and Mr Tim Brant M.N. (Rtd) Secretary of the Merchant Navy Association kindly consented to be Treasurer of the Fund.
The Dover Strait
Our Merchant Navy War Memorial statue on the sea front faces the historic Dover strait, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
The Port of Dover is the nearest port and is the gateway to Europe. It is also fast becoming a major cruise liner port. Dover is one of the ancient and historic Cinque Ports, which date back some 900 years. Dover’s maritime history goes back to Roman times. Many Merchant Navy seafarers remains lay in these waters, a fitting place to erect a Memorial and focus attention to the memory of Merchant Navy seafarers who have no headstone and their grave is the sea.
This website, provides information on the Fund's foundation and a short historical background of the Merchant Navy's role in World War ll and its association with Dover.
In addition it will inform our friends, both at home and overseas the location of an associated Merchant Navy Memorial Plaque which was also unveiled by Mr Winston S Churchill at Arromanches, Normandy on 6th June 2003 (the 59th anniversary of D-Day Landings in Normandy June 6th 1944).
(click on section headed 'MN War Memorial Arromanches, Normandy, France').
I believe, and I know many people do agree with me, that the Merchant Navy's role in war and the many thousands of seafarers who lost their lives in that war, has been largely forgotton.
Perhaps this website will help as remembrance to those Merchant Navy sailors, both Officers and Men who made the supreme sacrifice and laid down their lives in service to their Country.
I write this as a Merchant Navy veteran of WW2.
Merchant Navy - World War Two (1939 - 1945)
The Battle of the Atlantic
The ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ was the longest fought battle of World War 2, it lasted 6 years, the entire length of the war, from September 3rd 1939 until May 8th 1945. The first casualty was a Merchant Navy ship the s.s. Athenia torpedoed in the afternoon of September 3rd 1939, war was officially declared at 11am that day. After the war in Europe officially ended on May 8th 1945, a U boat torpedoed the last Merchant Navy ship to be sunk in the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ a few hours later.
Serving as a Merchant Navy Radio Officer, I crossed the Atlantic many times during the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ on ’dangerous cargo’ listed Merchant Navy ships. I served on two aviation fuel ‘high-octane’ Tankers and also on a ‘high explosive’ cargo Merchant Navy ship. So I write from experience of that ‘Battle of the Atlantic’.
During World War Two over 34,000 merchant seafarers, 1 in 3 of the entire British Merchant Navy fleet lost their lives at sea, a greater percentage loss than any of the other 3 Services. That is why Sir Winston Churchill called them the Fourth Service.
Our Merchant Fleet was the lifeline upon which our very survival depended. All oil had to be transported by sea to these islands; Britain then had no natural source of oil of its own. No planes could fly without the high-octane fuel from oil. Iron ore, the major ingredient of steel, had to be transported to this Country by sea. Without steel no tanks could be manufactured. Merchant Navy ships transported our soldiers overseas. Merchant Navy ships brought food to these islands of ours, plus very many other supplies, including high explosive munitions etc. So the Merchant Navy role was vital to the war effort. They were heavily attacked by U boats and in coastal waters by E-boats (German Motor Torpedo Boat) which very nearly succeeded in cutting our vital supply line, as an island we depended on this, if they had succeeded it would have brought about our defeat.
Without the Merchant Navy, the seabourne invasion of France at Normandy 'D' Day June 6th 1944 and in the weeks that followed could not have taken place.
Merchant Navy seafarers by keeping these supply lines open, eventually enabled our Country to go on the offensive to free Europe in 1944 and later in Asia.
But they paid a heavy price in loss of life.
The D-Day Landings in Normandy, France June 6th 1944.
The Merchant Navy War Memorial overlooks the Dover Strait which was one of the convoy routes from Britain to Normandy during the second World War (1939 to 1945).
On June 6th 1944 the convoy route from London Docks, Tilbury to the landing beaches in Normandy, France was via the Dover Strait. Many Merchant Navy shipping convoys passed through the Strait on their way to the Normandy beaches for the D-Day assault on June 6th 1944 and during the months that followed, taking troops and supplies to the Normandy Beaches and the prefabricated docking facilities of Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches. This was a Royal & Merchant Navy Combined Operation codeword 'Neptune' to land the army and supplies on mainland Europe. The success of which would depend on the 'Liberation of Europe' and the final stages of the end of the war in Europe.
German Naval guns (manned by the German Navy, commanded by a German Admiral), heavily shelled these Normandy convoys from their major gun emplacements on the French occupied coast between Calais and Boulogne and south to Normandy, a German coastal defence known as the 'Atlantic Wall'. This gave a respite to the people of Dover, as these convoys of Merchant Navy ships were now the target of the German naval gunners.
All this I experienced when my ship became the prime target of these large calibre German Naval guns when we were en route to Normandy via the Dover Strait, whilst I was serving as a Radio Officer on one of these Merchant Navy ships, a LSI (Landing Ship Infantry) from D-Day 6th June 1944 and throughout this combined operation ‘Operation Neptune’ until it ended some months later.
Donald Hunter M.N. (Rtd.)
Founder & Chairman/Fund-Raiser of the Dover & District Merchant Navy Memorial Fund.
To enable us to preserve this Memorial in pristine condition as a lasting Memorial of Remembrance,
Please send your donations to:
Mr Tim Brant
Treasurer: The Dover & District Merchant Navy Memorial Fund
9, Saxon Way
Lincs LN7 6SG.
Please make your cheques payable to:
‘Dover & District Merchant Navy Memorial Fund’
Those who have already made donations are:
To date we have received donations from:
Dover District Council
Corporation of Trinity House
Dover Harbour Board
National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT)
George Hammond PLC
DP World/PO Ferries
The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust
Chef Nick Nairn of nick nairn enterprise of Port of Menteith.
From Associations etc:
Marine Officers’ Club of Dover & Folkestone
Merchant Navy Association Kent Branch
Merchant Navy Association National Office and other MNA Branches.
Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association
Normandy Veterans Association Folkestone Branch
Royal Naval Association Folkestone
Royal Naval Association Dover & Deal
Three Links Club of Dover
Burma Star Association.
R.A.F Elsham Wolds Association.
Mr Gwyn Prosser, Member of Parliament for Dover & Districts and Constituency Office Staff
Last, but by no means least, are the many individuals both local and from other parts who have sent donations.
To all, I thank you for your support.
From L to R Chairman of Dover District Council Cllr. Pat Heath, Donald Hunter, Frank Prowse of Cunard & Princess Lines, Mayor of Dover Cllr. Mrs Jan Tranter on the occasion of Cheques Presentation total of £5,000 donations from Cunard Line & Princess Line to the Dover & District Merchant Navy Memorial Fund.
Thank you to everyone who have sent donations, all are acknowledged.
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