Anzac Day, Lest We Forget World War’s Longest Lifeline
“The Merchant Navy has no real way of displaying its capabilities. There is no compulsory wearing of uniforms, no street parades led by fine military bands, no pomp or ceremony of any sort to attract the general public or media. The only attention given to the Service is when some catastrophe or other occurs which raises the hackles of the conservationists, and this always seems to be to the detriment of the Merchant Navy.” The Unsung Heroes of the Sea ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee
“As well as those serving on local ships, about 1,000 New Zealanders sailed on British vessels during the war years. Production was one thing; delivering these cargoes halfway around the world in wartime was another matter. As the minister Ben Roberts, acknowledged in 1945, ‘This has only been accomplished at great hazard and with the loss of many lives and many ships … It is no exaggeration to say that the Merchant Navy has been the axis round which the war effort of the United Nations has revolved.” The Longest Lifeline, New Zealand History
“Contrary to popular belief, merchant seamen were not well-paid, did not have comfortable working hours, and their living conditions were often very poor. Industrial action did occur but it did not benefit seamen as much as has been said and was almost always entered into on the basis of pay, extreme danger, or working and living conditions… the overall fatality rate among seamen members of the SUA during the Second World War was 8.5 percent, a rate higher than that sustained by Australia’s fighting services.” The Merchant Navy, Australian War Memorial
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