A Tribute – Merchant Navy

Oil on Canvas

76 x 61cm

The term Merchant Navy refers to a nation’s commercial shipping and crews.  During World War 2 Merchant Navy ships carrying valuable cargo and supplies were subjected to gunnery and torpedo attacks by the enemy.  Merchant seamen were not well-paid, did not have comfortable working hours,  and their living conditions were often very poor.  My painting shows the WOLLONGBAR 2 being loaded at Byron Bay with bacon, sugar cheese and butter.  On the afternoon of April 29, 1943, Wollongbar 2 was hit by a Japanese torpedo just of Crescent Head NSW.  Of the 37 crew members only 5 survived.  The story of the sinking of the Wollongbar 2 is a stark reminder of the perils that occurred to Merchant Navy ships and their crews.  These men were ordinary seamen untrained for war and unprepared for what was to befall them.  Yet it is a tribute to their bravery, determination, and commitment to the task of ensuring essential supplies were maintained.  A total of 19 ships were sunk and over 150 lives  lost off the NSW coat during those war years.