Red Ensign flag hoisted to honour the country’s mercantile mariners.

Buckinghamshire Country Council Chairman Brian Roberts raised the flag to mark national Merchant Navy Day at the Old County Hall in Aylesbury earlier this morning.

With him was veteran seaman Norman Brookes who joined the Merchant Navy in 1944 aged just 16.

Now 91 years old Brookes lives in Chalfont St Peter.

He served on the Highland Brigade (RMS), a convoy ship that transported troops and cargo across the globe in World War II and was in New York on VJ Day.

Brian said: "It was an honour to have Norman with us to help raise the Red Ensign.

“Flying this flag is our tribute to his sea-going successors - the men and women of our Merchant Navy whose seafaring skills bring us 90% of our imports, and that includes half the food we eat."

On this day 80 years ago in 1939 on the first day of World War II, the SS Athenia was the first merchant ship to be torpedoed and 128 passengers and crew members were lost.

National Merchant Navy Day is used to remember the sacrifices the navy have made for the Country and the work they continue to do.

Brain added: "During the two world wars we realised that as an island nation, without the courageous service of these seafarers, we would soon have been starved of food and other essentials.

“We owe them a great debt of gratitude."

The Rector of Aylesbury, Rev Doug Zimmerman, read a prayer for the Merchant Navy followed by a message read by Chairman Roberts from the President of Seafarers UK, Prince Edward.

Shoppers and passers-by stopped to witness the ceremony and saluted for the courageous mercantile seafarers past and present.