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Media releases & speeches

The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

3 September 2017

Remembering Australia’s Merchant Mariners

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said today Australians should pause and remember the often unsung heroes of the Second World War, the service personnel and civilian seamen who served on merchant vessels.

“The Merchant Navy carried vital equipment and goods around the world during the war. The vessels were often defenceless and their work perilous with the constant threat of attack from enemy submarines, surface raiders, aircraft and mines,” Mr Tehan said.

“More than 400 Australian merchant mariners have lost their lives in the line of duty. Since 2008, today has been commemorated as Merchant Navy Day marking the sinking of the first Allied merchant vessel, the British liner Athenia, on the first day of the Second World War, on 3 September 1939.

“Today Australians should remember those who served our country as part of the Merchant Navy, their service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

Merchant mariners who lost their lives serving on Australian vessels are honoured at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Media enquiries:

Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.