The date is national Merchant Navy Day and is the UK’s opportunity to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the service.

While many people know that September 3, 1939 marked the outbreak of the Second World War, few are aware that it also marks the first major British maritime casualty.

The merchant vessel SS Athenia was torpedoed just a few hours after hostilities were declared with the loss of 128 passengers and crew.

The Red Ensign, or ‘Red Duster’ as it is known, has been the recognised flag of the British Merchant Navy since 1854.