Merchant Navy

The Merchant Navy descibes Britain’s commercial ships and crews. It has existed throughout British history, and expanded greatly with the growth of the British Empire, and the resulting increase in trade.

At the start of the war Britain controlled over 40% of the world’s merchant shipping. This proved vital during the First World War, in supplying Britain with food and materials, as well as transporting armies overseas and keeping them supplied.

In recognition of its’ war service, King George V, bestowed the title of ‘Merchant Navy’, and entitled British Merchant vessels to fly the Red Ensign flag.

The war at sea was a costly conflict that continued every day throughout the war. Some 5,000 Merchant vessels and nearly 13 million tons of shipping were lost between 1914-18. The Germans lost 178 U Boats and 5,000 men in this combat.

There were 14,661 Merchant sailors lost in the First World War and nearly 1,200 of them were from Hull.

‘SOUTHWARD HO’ was reported missing on 27 May 1915 and is believed to have been lost off Spurn Head as a result of (unspecified) enemy action.There were none Hull crew and no survivors.

EARL (H436) was a Hull steam trawler, reported missing in the North Sea on 21/1/1916. Ten Hull crew drowned.

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