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Memorial to merchant sailors with no known grave but the sea.

This massive, nearly 16 metre high memorial, opposite the Tower of London, in the form of a Doric temple commemorates the 3,404 merchant ships and the 17,000 lives lost during the First World War; sailors with no known grave but the sea. Almost 12,000 of these have their names and those of their vessels cast in bronze panels on and within the monument. It was commissioned by the Imperial War Graves Commission and unveiled 12 December 1928 by Queen Mary, deputising for the seriously ill George V; the ceremony transmitted live on radio.

The Merchant Navy was the supply service of the Royal Navy, transporting and supplying the armed forces. It also had a vital role in shipping raw materials to keep the country fed and her factories supplied for the production of munitions, clothing etc. The merchant fleet was diverse, both in its vessels – it included fishing boats, and in its crews – many coming from around the Empire. Losses peaked in 1917 when the German government announced unrestricted submarine warfare.

Following the Second World War, the memorial was much extended by Sir Edward Maufe (1882-1974) to commemorate nearly 24,000 further lives lost at sea.

Photo courtesy of Tim Skelton

Merchant Navy War Memorial, Trinity Square Garden, London. Bronzework sculpted by Sir William Reid Dick. Upgraded to Grade I

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13 December 2012




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