The Mayor of Wellingborough, Cllr Barry Graves, hosted a special flag-raising ceremony this morning to mark Merchant Navy Day.
The Mayor was joined by members of the public, borough councillors and employees, as well as former Merchant Navy seafarers, to honour the thousands of men and women who served the country during two world wars.
A message from HRH The Earl of Wessex was read out by the Mayor, thanking everyone for coming to the ceremony "to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy."
The message continued: "Too often they are the forgotten or invisible service, by raising the Red Ensign you will ensure at least on this day they are remembered."
The ceremony was part of a national commemoration, with local authorities all over the country invited to fly the flag.
Before raising the Red Ensign, the Mayor explained more about the important role played by the Merchant Navy.
Cllr Graves said: "The Merchant Navy kept our island nation afloat during both world wars.
"In the Second World War, 32,000 merchant seamen were killed – a higher casualty ratio than for any branch of the armed forces – but, fighting alongside their Royal Navy escorts, the seafarers of the Atlantic convoys successfully imported enough supplies to allow an Allied victory.
"The thousands of brave men and women who lost their lives have no grave but the sea and it is an honour to take this time to remember them."
The Mayor then invited Ian Mitchell, a former merchant seaman, to say a few words about his personal experience. Cllr Geoff Simmons then spoke about his family’s links to the Merchant Navy before the official flag was raised and the assembled guests held a minute of silent reflection.
Merchant Navy Day became an official Day of Remembrance on 3 September 2000. The national commemoration celebrates the role of merchant seafarers past and present and their vital contribution to our way of life during both conflicts and peacetime.