Honour for Dorset's Merchant Navy Supported by the Queen
11:53am 3rd September 2013
(Updated 1:39pm 3rd September 2013)
For the first time, Dorset's bravest seafarers who kept supplies flowing to the frontline during World War 2 are to be honoured for their sacrifice.
Her Majesty the Queen signed an order in Council to approve the Merchant Navy Medal yesterday (Wednesday 2nd September).
The surprise announcement was made by Paul Compton, Chairman of the Weymouth & Portland branch of the Merchant Navy Association, during a flag raising ceremony to mark Merchant Navy day this morning (Tuesday 3rd September).
Two Red Ensign flags were being raised, one above the town bridge and the other, which was raised during the ceremony, outside Weymouth & Portland's Borough Council Offices.
Many turned out to remember, Mayor Ray Banham was amongst those in attendance.
Paul Compton spoke to the crowd saying, "This is an announcement now that very few people know about, the Queen yesterday, in Council, signed an order authorising the issue of a Merchant Navy Medal, so some of you may get a medal."
Tha announcement was met with applause and when we spoke to Paul afterwards he said it was about time their sacrifices were recognised, "As soon as the ships sunk out at sea the guys who got into a lifeboat, if they survived, they went off pay. So their families didn't have income and they didn't start being paid again until they joined another vessel, and it's taken seventy years to recognise this."
The medal will be awarded to Dorset seafarers who've shown distinguished service.
It's taken 70 years for the Merchant Navy to be recognised in the honours system.
Some 35,000 British merchant navy sailors were killed during World War Two alone, as they shipped vital supplies across the globe for the allies fighting on the frontline.