DURING THE SECOND World War some 30,000 British merchant seamen died in the Battle of the Atlantic - most of them before the end of 1943. Even that figure may be on the low side: the Registrar-General of British Shipping did not know how many sailors had died ashore of their wounds.
The shipping companies were not much help. When a merchant ship was torpedoed, the lucky survivors took to the lifeboats and rah. The minute they dld so, most of them had their wages stopped: in the view of the majority of shipping lines, sailors in cork life belts were no