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 The Queen is to unveil the Merchant Navy Memorial on Tower Hill on November 5  this year, and the dedication will be by the Archbishop of Canterbury, The next-of-kin of those commemorated on the memorial will receive invitations to the ceremony which are being posted on March 21.
 The memorial, being built by the Imperial War Graves Commission to the design of Sir Edward Maufe, R.A., honours 24,000 officers and men of the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, and is an extension of the 1914-18 memorial in the form of a garden on the walls of which will be fixed bronze panels bearing the names.  Two sculptured figures of sailors stand at the garden entrances and between the bronze panels are sculptures of the Seven Seas. The sculptor is Mr Charles Wheeler. R.A.

From  THE TIMES (London)  Tuesday 1st March 1955



 In the garden on the Tower Hill in which already stands a memorial to 12,000 merchant seamen who died in the First World War the Queen on Saturday unveiled a new memorial to nearly 24,000 men of the Merchant Navy, the fishing fleets, and the lighthouse and pilotage services who lost their lives between 1939 and 1945  and whose only grave is the sea.
 Around the two memorials, now an impressive whole, were gathered some 16,000 relatives of those commemorated. They had come from all parts of Britain and some from the Commonwealth.  They carried wreaths and flowers which later - until after dusk had fallen and the memorial had been floodlit -they were to place on the sunken lawn near the names inscribed in relief on bronze commemorative panels.
 The memorial was lit with sunshine when the Queen unveiled it. Last post was sounded by buglers of the Royal Marines, and the memorial was then dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Fisher. After  Reveille the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. G.D. Henderson, gave thanks “for these our brothers whose names are graven on this stone, and who in the day of peril gave their lives for our safety and defence.”


 With the Queen  were the Duke of Edinburgh, in the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet; the Duke of Gloucester, president of the Imperial War Graves Commission, in the uniform of Master of the Elder Brethren of the Corporation of Trinity House; and Mr  Head, chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission and Secretary of State for War.  Among the guests were representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, including Sir Anthony Eden, senior officers of the three Services, and many representatives of shipping companies and organisations.
 Speaking before the unveiling the Queen praised the men whose names were commemorated. “They were members,” she said, “of a splendid company of brave men and women, from many nations and all countries of the Commonwealth, who served in fellowship under the Red Ensign, and who maintained the great traditions of their service wherever  the war  was waged at sea......... To sustain the life of a nation at war they endured the dangers of their great calling, and in that cause they laid down their lives.”
 The true memorial of these men was to be found in the lives of those who now, and in the years to come, would hold fast to those ideals for which they died. “It rests with us,  and with those who will come after us, to give to their heroism that enduring memorial which shall far outlast this garden and these stones.”


The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Duke of Gloucester later laid wreaths, followed by Ministers of State and the High Commissioners of countries of the Commonwealth. After inspecting the memorial the Queen walked among the relatives.
 The memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe, R.A. and has been built by the Imperial War Graves Commission. It extends the existing memorial and takes the form of a sunken garden. The bronze-faced surrounding wall records a total of 23,765 names, shown alphabetically under the ships in which the men served. The commemorative panels are relieved by seven stone allegorical figures, representing the Seven Seas.  The approach to the garden from the 1914-18 memorial is flanked by pylons on which the Merchant Navy badges and wreaths are carved in relief; the main  dedicatory inscription between these pylons is guarded by the sculptured figures of an officer and a seaman of the Merchant Navy.  In the centre of the sunken lawn is a bronze representation of a mariners’ compass. The various sculptures are the work of Mr Charles Wheeler. R.A.

From  THE TIMES  (London)  7th November 1955


Dedication of the Merchant Seamen Memorial 1955

Dedication of the memorial to merchant seamen on 5th November 1955. Copyright ©


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