Stamp of approval at last for Merchant Navy and Barry seamen

First published in Letters

THE Merchant Navy Association (Wales) Barry branch has for three years worked with the MNA nationally in pursuing the issue of our own Royal Mail postage stamp.

Together we put forward a winning case for a Merchant Navy stamp and news has now been received that an issue will be released on September 19, 2013, during the Year of the Convoy.

“Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten”. How much better can a nation today remember than with a commemorative stamp, dedicated to those who helped to save us all. Barry has committed to remembering its own MN losses and took the opportunity to ensure that something more occurred to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic and all wartime convoys that saw many local losses.

Persistence has been the key and much more is sought in the future. Communications have been sent to both the Royal Mint and the Bank of England in the hope that the future may see an MN coin of the realm or indeed a Merchant Marine /Navy bank note.

This time last year the local Merchant Navy branch worked with the National and Wales MNA and leading politicians national and local to prevent the “Dancing on Graves” at Tower Hill, London, our national Merchant Navy monument. Barry can be proud that the town and people, its many groups and organisations, councillors, MPs and Assembly Members can and do unite and have a voice.

Barry can and will always help make a difference. And not just our branch - the town and indeed the Vale has received this stamp of approval. The Merchant Navy Monument, although not in Barry, records our lost and fallen throughout the Vale.

The Wales / Welsh National MN Monument (Tiger Bay / Docks) in Cardiff tributes and remembers all from the Capital and more: “In memory of the merchant seafarers from the ports of Barry, Penarth and Cardiff who died in times of war.”

If we can achieve one postage stamp, one coin, one bank note for just our own MN lost from Barry, a town that lost more seamen proportionally than any other, and our Vale of seafaring heroes we will better remember.

Barry is helping further; the town and people, the many groups and organisations and politicians have voiced opinions to recognise further our Arctic heroes. An ongoing government report should soon tell of the country’s decision regarding the Russian and home tributes to these heroes.

A stamp of approval for all, not just some.

The local quest for an MN Stamp of Approval started with an initial communication with the international stamp group Stanley Gibbons which published A Stamp of Approval in GSM Magazine and forwarded a £50 donation that kick started the Captain Foster / Trevessa grave refurbishment / renovation at Merthyr Dyfan Cemetery that was completed last year by Halls Memorials, Barry. Now a simple postage stamp will mean so much to so many.

There are few graves or anywhere to lay a flower to properly pay tribute to loved ones or to visit a lost loved one’s location. There are few graves above the waves - most remain on the ocean bed.

It took some time, but there is at last a stamp of approval for our locals such as Jim Luen of Barry and others of whom little is known. Remembering the few like Jim will help recall all and at last pay an ultimate tribute to our MN men.

J T Greenway

MNA Wales Barry Branch

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