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  1. ITV Report

Merchant Navy Day: Veteran remembers dangerous WW2 service aged just 14

Donald McKay served in the Second World War, aged just 14. Credit: ITV News

Events are taking place across the country to remember the members of "the forgotten service" - men and women killed in action while working for the Merchant Navy.

During World War Two, the Merchant Navy were a vital link between a cut-off United Kingdom and the rest of the allied forces. They carried food, arms, ammunition, troops and other supplies.

The efforts of the Merchant navy kept the UK from starvation. Credit: ITV News

It was highly dangerous work, especially in the Atlantic.

The Merchant Vessels were usually only lightly armed, and were a key target for German U-boats.

185,000
seamen and women served in the Merchant Navy during WW2
36,000+
died in action

One man who signed up to work on a ship aged just 14 remembers putting the danger to the back of his mind.

You had U-boats all around you, the danger was there, but whilst you were at sea and working, it was at the back of your mind.

I was a boy, doing what I was told for a great crew.

– Donald McKay
The Red Ensign flag is being flown to mark Merchant Navy Day Credit: ITV News

Donald's local Merchant Navy Association in Dumfries and Galloway has been working tirelessly to mark Merchant Navy Day.

51 red ensign flags are flying throughout the county - the biggest flag showing anywhere in the UK.

They did save the country. It was a deadly occupation, they did not know if they were going to make it.

We decided we would do our bit. Two years ago we managed 14 flags in Dumfries and Galloway, last year we had 24. This year, thanks to the fantastic efforts of my colleagues, we've managed to fly 51.

– Arthur Murphy, Dumfries and Galloway Merchant Navy Association

You can watch the full interview by Lise McNally below: