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They are the fourth service and we will remember them

Sep 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Article, News

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Ian Dymock President of the Merchant Navy Association Wellington and the Honourable Chris Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage

SEAMEN REMEMBERED: Ian Dymock (left) and Chris Finlayson at the service.

THE first New Zealand Merchant Navy Day has been celebrated by a service at the Wellington National War Memorial.

It was a bit of an oversight that the Merchant Navy had not been given a day of recognition, says Robin Klitscher, national president for the Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association.

Mr Klitscher says  September 3 – which marks the sinking of the first British merchant ship hours after World War II was declared in 1939 – is a suitable date.

“It has universal meaning for those who know their history,” he says.

The service was attended by Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson, Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Tony Parr.

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POPPY TRIBUTE: Guests laid poppies on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

National War Memorial Advisory Council chairman David Ledson says it was a good service.

“Veterans can be aware people value what they did.

“Those who are here today who survived are in their mid-80s to 90s. It’s more important to them people understand what they did – that their children understand what they have been through.

“A lot of them don’t talk about it. For some people, today provides an increased understanding, an opportunity to talk to their families about what they’ve done.”

Wellington Merchant Navy Association president Ian Dymock  says Merchant Navy Day is important as a way to commemorate the service and sacrifice of civilian merchant seafarers.

It is right that the Merchant Navy has been recognised as a service alongside the Navy, Air Force and Army, he says.

Mr Finlayson says he has friends whose fathers were involved in the Merchant Navy and they gave service in so many ways, from contributions to the lifeline of the UK, to the ferry between Wellington and Lyttelton.

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