John’s tribute to lost merchant seamen

John Manning placed a wreath at the foot of Campbeltown War Memorial.
John Manning placed a wreath at the foot of Campbeltown War Memorial.

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Former sailor John Manning was joined by his wife Diana as he placed a wreath at the foot of Campbeltown War Memorial at midday last Thursday in honour of Merchant Navy seamen lost in battle.

John, aged 87, who served in the Merchant Navy during the 1950s, carries out this ceremony every year on Merchant Navy Day, September 3.

As one of just four seamen who survived an explosion which killed almost 70 of his merchant sailor colleagues, the day of remembrance is particularly poignant for John, whose wreath read: ‘Look out to sea and say a prayer for those that be beneath. They gave their lives that you may share a Europe that is free. And we will remember them…’

The merchant marine service was given the title of Merchant Navy by King George V at the end of World War One in recognition of the role it played in the logistical supply of food, munitions and manpower in the ‘war to end all wars’.

It was not until 1999 that the government created an official memorial day in honour of the Merchant Navy.