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What memorial commemorates civilian war casualties of the Mercantile Marine and the Merchant Navy?

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The Tower Hill Memorial is the only memorial which commemorates merchant seamen exclusively. Located near the Tower of London, it commemorates seamen of the Mercantile Marine (1914-1918) and the Merchant Navy (1939-1945) who died during both World Wars and have no known grave. Of the more than 36,000 names displayed, 480 are Canadians – 409 from the First World War and 71 from the Second World War. They are also commemorated in Canada's Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance. The Tower Hill Memorial in London was unveiled by Queen Mary on 12 December 1928 (First World War section) and Queen Elizabeth II on 5 November 1955 (Second World War section). An important gesture by the Government of Canada was the creation of the 'Merchant Navy Veterans Day' by Federal legislation (Merchant Navy Veterans Day Act, S.C. 2003, c.17) dated 19 June 2003, where it designated 3 September as a day set aside "to acknowledge the contribution of the veterans of the Merchant Navy to ensuring the freedom and democracy enjoyed by Canadians". The Commonwealth War Graves Commission undertook a major restoration of the memorial in 2019 when the memorial's roof was removed stone by stone to allow for a new waterproof layer to be added. In March 2021, the Commission announced that the bronze panels were being altered to include seven new names after research saw them added to their roll of honour. A further sixteen names of both wars were also being amended to correct inaccuracies. The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is Grade I listed by Historic England.

On this day, 3 September 2021, we commemorate the 19th anniversary of Merchant Navy Veterans Day, nearly 93 years since the unveiling of Tower Hill Memorial's First World War section and nearly 65 years since the unveiling of the Second World War section.

André M. Levesque

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