A SPECIAL ceremony will be held to honour members of the Merchant Navy in Pershore.

The flag-raising ceremony will be hosted by Wychavon District Council on Thursday, September 3 at Pershore's Civic Centre at 10am.

Chairman of the council, Councillor Val Wood, said: “As an island nation we have always depended on merchant seafarers to defend our shores and import vital food and fuel.

"We’re pleased to be supporting the ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’ in honour of the brave merchant seafarers who have made the ultimate sacrifice throughout our history, but particularly during the two World Wars.”

Since the year 2000, the September 3 has been the UK’s officially designated Merchant Navy Day. The date was chosen because on that day in 1939, the first day of the Second World War, SS Athenia became the first ship to be torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 128 passengers and crew.

In the Second World War, German U-boats sank 2,828 Allied ships, amounting to nearly 14.7 million tons. The UK alone suffered the loss of 11.7 million tons and 32,000 merchant seafarers were killed.