THE Red Ensign flew high in the Wee County this week to honour the brave men and women who kept the UK afloat during both world wars.

Invited guests and dignitaries gathered at Kilncraigs on Monday, September 3, to mark Merchant Navy Day with a flag-raising ceremony.

The day also coincides with the outbreak of World War II and marks the first major maritime casualty on the merchant vessel SS Athenia, which was torpedoed just a few hours after hostilities were declared.

Led by Provost Tina Murphy, a small crowd gathered at the mast outside the council building in drizzling rain to observe the ceremony.

The provost said: “It’s sometimes a forgotten service; they did sterling work all through the Second World War and ever since, because the seas today are not all that safe either.”

She added: “We give thanks to all those who were in the Merchant Navy in our times of need, in our times of peril, and we say a tremendous thank you also to those who continue to take our goods around the world and to bring essential goods in to us.

“Where would we be without the Merchant Navy?”

Clackmannanshire’s Lord-Lieutenant Johnny Miller, read out a message penned by Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex.

It said: “On this Merchant Navy Day, I very much hope you will support this campaign by Seafarers UK to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy.

“Too often they are the forgotten or invisible service, by raising the Red Ensign you will ensure that at least on this day they are remembered.

“Your act will mean so much to their families and to the retired, but must especially to those at sea.”

The campaign to fly the “Red Duster”, as it is affectionately known, was spearheaded by charity Seafarers UK, which helps people in the maritime community, as well as their families, in their time of need.