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in 1914-18, so in the war that is just over, the countries of the British Commonwealth owed their preservation (and their prosperity), first to the control of the seas by the Royal Navy and the navies of friendly countries, and secondly to the use of the seas by the Merchant Marine. When and where sea control was challenged, or temporarily lost, the security of every Empire country was jeopardised. Only when control was firmly established did it become possible to launch the great invasions of "Fortress Europe," and, in the Pacific, to swing over to the offensive against Japan. In the years following the collapse of France, when the "Battle of the Atlantic," as grim as any other battle of the war, was being fought out, the fate of the United Kingdom, and of the British Commonwealth, and the course of the whole war, depended on the skill in seamanship and, above all, on the spirit, of naval and merchant seamen. It is the battle about which least is known. We know how it ended, and we know its cost, but the full story has yet to be told. It should be told now, so that men and women may realise, and not forget, how much they owe to the merchant seamen who, despite all hazards, kept on going to sea.

Meanwhile, let us recall that from the beginning of the war to May 31 last no fewer than 2570 British Empire ships, totalling 19,720,000 gross tons, were lost by enemy action, and 220 more went down from unknown causes, and that more than 35,000 men of the British Merchant Navy perished. For sobering comparison, let us remepiber that the total of Australian and New Zealand servicemen killed, up to the same date, was less than 40,000.

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Bibliographic details

THE MERCHANT NAVY, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 193, 16 August 1945

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THE MERCHANT NAVY Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 193, 16 August 1945

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