THE unparalleled efforts of the British Merchant Navy during the Second World War were recognised during a fitting ceremony.

Supporters gathered at an immaculately kept memorial, in The Quay, Harwich, to mark Merchant Navy Day.

Bugler Ellie Bould, 17, part of Tendring Brass Band, was on hand to perform a beautiful rendition of The Last Post.

More than 30,000 merchant seamen lost their lives during the Second World War, a death rate proportionately higher than any of the armed forces.

Standards representing the Merchant Navy, Royal Navy, the Royal British Legion and Trinity House were raised.

Andrew Tannock, standard bearer for Harwich Merchant Navy Association, said: “Not many realise the first British casualties lost were on a Merchant Navy vessel.

“These people who went to sea during this enormously difficult time volunteered, it is a job like any other and they were just going to work.

“The Luftwaffe and U-boats were determined to make sure they didn’t get through. Their supplies were vital and included food, ammunition and medical supplies.”

The association meets every third Wednesday of the month, at 8pm at the Park Pavillion social club, in Barrack Lane, Harwich.