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Schools spotlight merchant role

PUBLISHED: 10:45 11 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:24 05 July 2010

A JOINT initiative by the Federation of Merchant Mariners and the Ministry of Defence Veterans Policy Unit is asking local people to help highlight the role of the Merchant Navy in the history of the UK.

A JOINT initiative by the Federation of Merchant Mariners and the Ministry of Defence Veterans Policy Unit is asking local people to help highlight the role of the Merchant Navy in the history of the UK.

Remembering the Merchant Navy aims to encourage schools and youth groups to make contact with veterans of the merchant service and to research casualties in conflicts from 1914 onwards.

The project was launched in January 2007 by the federation's education consultant, and head of history at Thetford Grammar School David Seymour.

It aims to build a database of schools and youth groups with Merchant Navy connections and interests, putting them in touch with each other and local veterans.

There have already been a number of useful contributions from schools across the country, and two veterans visited the Thetford school last year to talk with pupils.

Last April, Chelsea pensioner Jim Wilson spoke to GCSE and A-level historians about his experience during the second world war.

He was able to tell them about his experiences, which included a story of how his first ship, the RFA Dinsdale, was sunk by an Italian submarine, leading him to spend 17 days with fellow crewmates in an open boat on the Atlantic.

Mr Seymour is now turning his attention to this region “as both Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth have played important roles in the maritime history of this country, both as fishing ports and naval tasks during both world wars.”

“As well as seeking veterans who would be prepared to visit schools, Remembering the Merchant Navy would be interested in collecting written material and photographs from veterans,” said Mr Seymour.

“The role of the Merchant Navy has been very much neglected over the years and this, we hope, will give the public an opportunity to realise how important it has been, and indeed still is, in the life of the country.”

If you have any memories or photographs relating to the Merchant Navy you would like to share, write to David Seymour, Thetford Grammar School, Bridge Street, Norfolk, IP24 3AF, e-mail david.seymour1@btinternet.com

or visit www.merchant-mariners.co.uk

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