If you have (or had) a relative or friend in the Merchant Navy in World War Two, then Keystage Arts and Heritage would like to meet you. They have given a generous grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to collect stories of those unsung heroes who served their country for very little recognition. Only this year have some of them been given their service medals, 70 years after the event!
Keystage is running a project throughout the Eastern counties to collect, record the stories of those who served on merchant ships bringing vital supplies to a war starved Britain. They also risked their lives to take troops and arms that would help win the war. Though civilians, they sailed on lightly-armed ships travelling in convoy across the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans. Man for man, they had the highest casualty rate of any of the services and were at constant risk from U-boat torpedoes, dive bombers and mines.
Says Lesley Ford of Keystage Arts and Heritage: “We have already collected some truly amazing stories – men who were rescued in lifeboats but who had to endure weeks in the open sea with hardly any food or water, sailors who witnessed the destruction of their ships – but there were many lighter moments too. We can’t let these amazing stories sink without trace and we are looking for the people of Wisbech to help us find more.”
The outcome of the project will be a touring exhibition, a play, a book and a dedicated website which is already building up – www.merchantnavyunsungheroes.co.uk
If anyone has a story to tell they can meet the team in the local library on April 10th. Bring any documents, photos, diaries or memorabilia with you.
Keystage Arts and Heritage will be at Wisbech Library on April 10 at 10.30am. For more information contact Mike Levy, Keystage Arts and Heritage, 07816 468760