Jim Greenway, chairman of the Barry branch of the Merchant Navy Association Wales, said: “We’re delighted that the council kept their promise to refurbish the memorial. We appreciate the council’s support." Neil Moore, Vale Council Leader, said: "Barry’s history as a port is illustrious, during peace and war, and it was the hard work and heroism of its merchant seamen that made its name. It is very fitting that they are honoured in our town."
The memorial was commissioned in 1994 by the Cardiff Bay Arts Trust (CBAT), a charitable organization that was first established in 1991, as part of a public art effort in the Bay. Mr. Wiard Sterk of CBAT was instrumental in establishing a commission for an art piece honouring those who died in merchant service from the Cardiff Bay area. A design contest was held and the commission was awarded to Brian Fell, whose father was a merchant seaman, and who told Brian stories about ship construction methods during World War II. Once awarded the commission, Brian found the last hydraulic riveting workshop in Britain and taught himself the skills necessary to seam steel sections together to form the ship’s hull with its two very distinctive aspects.Approach the sculpture from one side or from the rear and you see a hull section of a merchant ship resting on a beach or the ocean floor, torn from the rest of the vessel, the ship’s framing exposed to the sea or the elements. Walk around to the other side and you see the face of every human lost forever to the sea incorporated in that same hull section. Brian’s wife served as the model for the face. The hull rests on a circular mosaic by artists Louise Shenstone and Adrian Butler. Inscribed around the edge of the mosaic are the words:“IN MEMORY OF THE MERCHANT SEAFARERS FROM THE PORTS OF BARRY PENARTH CARDIFF WHO DIED IN TIMES OF WAR”The memorial would not have happened without the efforts of the late Mr. Bill Henke MBE. Mr. Henke was the founder of the Merchant Navy Association (Wales). He spent years raising funds for the construction of the memorial. A plaque recognizing his efforts is located just outside the circular mosaic base of the memorial – and the sculpture itself is located just outside the Welsh Senedd (parliament) building, which was built after the sculpture was erected. Mr. Henke actually died right next to the statue he had spent years fighting to build.
Barry’s Merchant Navy Memorial was commissioned by the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council in recognition of those who had given their lives at sea from an area which has played a prominent role in the maritime tradition of South Wales. Started in 1994, it was first unveiled in 1996. It is situated outside the Civic Offices on Holton Road.The memorial commemorates merchant seamen from Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan who lost their lives in two world wars. Images relating to the Merchant Navy including insignias and flags are incised around the memorial. Lines by Joseph Conrad are incised on one face of the memorial. Four plaques list the names of those who died. The 23ft high Portland stone structure was dismantled and removed for repair work in December 2011. The memorial was cleaned and reworked to stop rainwater pooling on the stone and causing damage. The former brass remembrance plaques were replaced with stainless steel ones and the lists of Merchant Seamen from the Vale who lost their lives during the World Wars was updated to include those missed from the original plaques. It was rededicated on Saturday, September 29th, 2012. The service took place at 10am prior to the Merchant Navy Association's Annual Seafarers' Service.
MERCHANT NAVY MEMORIALS
The Inauguration Service for the Merchant Navy Memorial Plaque at Arromanches, Normandy, took place at midday on the 6th June 2003 (The 59th Anniversary of D-Day) on the seafront. Reverend R. Loveday, Senior British Army Chaplain and French Bishop Abbe Gesnouin conducted the service in both English and French.Mr Winston S. Churchill, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, the wartime British Prime Minister, paid a moving tribute before unveiling the Memorial to the role played by the Merchant Navy in World War Two and went on to quote his Grandfather’s tribute “Nothing daunted the ardour of the Merchant Navy…..their toils and tireless courage were our salvation. The sea traffic on which we depended for our existence proceeded without interruption.” After unveiling, he then read the Memorial Dedication inscription in full. A letter was received from H.M. The Queen who sent her best wishes to the Normandy Merchant Navy Memorial Fund and “ hopes that the unveiling ceremony on 6th June, 2003 will be a memorable occasion for all those able to attend”.Also present were representatives from the northern Italian town of Dongo, which is twinned with Arromanches. Dongo is where Mussolini was arrested in 1945.Some 11 Standards were paraded including the National Merchant Navy Association, Merchant Navy Association Branches, Royal British Legion, Normandy Veteran Association,and Royal Naval Association. Look out to sea and say a prayerFor those who rest beneath,They gave their lives that you may shareA Europe that is free.Arromanches was chosen as the site because this was where Mulberry B, an artificial harbour, was constructed to land the armies and supplies. But Merchant Navy ships also landed troops and supplies off the beaches in addition to Mulberry harbour (also known as Port Winston). Our Memorial plaque is on the promenade wall adjacent to the D-Day Museum.
Merchant Navy Memorial, the Welsh Back, BristolThe Associations’ Memorial on the quayside at Bristol, unveiled by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, in May 2001 provides a place for peaceful reflection on the debt we owe to all those lost at sea in times of peace and war.Services are conducted at the Memorial throughout the year to dedicate plaques and to commemorate Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September and Remembrance Day, the nearest Sunday to 11th November.