CALDICOT will take part in a national tribute to the merchant navy by flying the organisation’s flag, the red ensign, in the town centre on Friday (August 31).

Caldicot Town Council will host a ‘flag hoisting ceremony’ at the Caldicot Cross war memorial at 2pm to mark Merchant Navy Day (September 3), an annual celebration which, since 2000, has honoured the sailors who played such a crucial part in the UK’s survival during the two world wars.

Admiral Lord West of Spithead explained the merchant navy's significance, past and present.

“The red ensign, or ‘red duster’, as it is affectionately known, has been the recognised flag of the British merchant navy since 1854", he said.

"It has become inextricably linked with the world-wide trade links that made the United Kingdom’s fortune in the intervening years and, while there are now fewer ships on the home register, many thousands of British seafarers still work on the oceans of the world, underpinning the vast majority of the international commerce that keeps our economy buoyant.”

Nick Harvey, from maritime charity Seafarers UK, said: “Merchant Navy Day provides a perfect opportunity to show your support for the seafarers on which the UK depends by proudly flying the red ensign as publicly as you can, for all to see.

“All local councils and authorities taking part will be added to a Merchant Navy Day ‘roll of honour’ on our website.”