Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Unknown Sailor

This is the grave of an unknown sailor under some trees in a corner of the graveyard at St James church in Grain.

I can imagine he would have been washed up on the shore line days, weeks or possibly even months after his ship was sunk by German bombs or mines in the Thames Estuary.

I stumbled across this grave earlier this year and it made me think of my own late grandfather who also served in the Merchant Navy during World War II.

He went to sea in 1942, aged only sixteen as mess room boy. His first voyage lasted five months and took him all the way to South America and back to the UK via West Africa . On the return from Freetown four ships in his convoy were sunk.

The Merchant Navy suffered huge casualties with ships being lost to enemy action from the 3rd September 1939 right up to VE day in May 1945.

A total of more than 32000 men made the ultimate sacrifice.

Fortunately he was one of the lucky ones and back came home safely to his family.

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  1. I am glad you chose this particular unknown grave. Sailors in general, and the merchant navy in particular, were largely lost at sea. So there were fewer memorials, shrines and military cemeteries in their honour.

  2. Thanks for sharing the story of your grandfather. I found it so interesting and a wonderful post for remembrance day.

  3. MN Sailors when sunk,or shipwrecked had their pay stopped from that point.This would give me the hump.

  4. Oh, how touching (and especially so, considering Hels's input). I do like the wreath and symbol on the head stone.