The vital role of Merchant Navy seamen in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous military campaign of World War Two, is often downplayed or forgotten.
So, to honor these men who unquestioningly risked their lives to sustain the country throughout the bleakest of times, The London Mint Office donated a beautiful set of specially designed ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ coins to HQS Wellington which serves as a floating museum and the livery hall of the Honorable Company of Master Mariners where they will be on permanent display.
As well as telling the story of the Battle of Atlantic through the words of the famous Merchant Navy Poem, ‘For All Seafarers’, written by poet laureate John Edward Masefield, the coins have an indelible link to the Battle. Each is made from silver recovered from the wreck of merchant vessel the SS Gairsoppa which was sunk by a German U-Boat torpedo 75 years ago this month, sending 85 Merchant Mariners to their death.
The revenue from the sale of the coins will fund a donation to the Merchant Navy Association which works tirelessly to bring recognition to Merchant Navy veterans and of the critical and strategic role of the Merchant Navy in times of war and conflict.
James Deeny, Managing Director of The London Mint Office, said: “ We are honored to get this opportunity to give recognition to these incredible acts of valor, and to be supporting the important work of the Merchant Navy Association.”
Captain Sail, Chairman of the Merchant Navy Association, commented: “The fact that these striking coins are made from silver recovered from a Merchant Navy vessel which was sunk during the Battle of Atlantic, SS Gairsoppa, make them a particularly poignant commemoration of the role of the Merchant Navy during World War Two. The set donated to HQS Wellington by the London Mint Office provide a great reminder to all of the heroic exploits of the ‘Fourth Service’ during the Battle of Atlantic, and we are also delighted that the sale of these coin sets to the public will fund a donation from the London Mint Office to the Merchant Navy Association.”
Ron Quested, Battle of Atlantic veteran, added: “It’s so important that we keep alive the memory of all those serving in the Merchant Navy who lost their lives during the Battle of Atlantic. Their role in this vital victory often seems to be undervalued or forgotten. I hope these coins will educate people, and especially the young, about the contribution Merchant Seafarers made and ensure that the difference they made is not taken for granted.”