St Helens Borough Council have marked this year’s Armed Forces Day with several online events but one event did take place in-person: a special ceremony at Victoria Square to unveil a new name on the Cenotaph, that of Pte. Ralph Mercer, a St Helens soldier who was killed in action on 6 March 1943 at the age of 31.
Pte. Mercer served in India with the 13th Battalion, The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) during the Second World War and was a recipient of the Burma Star. He is commemorated in Myanmar.
The event was attended by members of Pte. Mercer’s family, including his daughter Mrs Beryl Williams, who joined Mayor of St Helens Borough
Cllr Sue Murphy to unveil the name, with council leader Councillor David Baines
and our Armed Forces champion, Cllr Lynn Clarke, also speaking.
That was followed by an exaltation of “For The Fallen” and “The Kohima Prayer” recited by Phil Carr, representing the Ashton and District Royal British Legion
and supported by The Royal Naval Association
bugler Arthur Gillon, Royal Air Force
veteran Brian Finney carrying the Royal British Legion Standard, and Parachute Brigade veteran Gerry Foster carrying the Burma Star Association Standard.
Those in attendance observed a minute’s silence in honour of Pte. Mercer and of all The Fallen.
Armed Forces Champion Cllr Lynn Clarke says: “In the last 15 months, St Helens Borough has been reminded of the importance of our relationship with the Armed Forces. For when called upon to help in the battle against the pandemic, the Armed Forces stood side by side with the borough’s community”. Watch Lynn’s full Armed Forces Day message here: https://www.facebook.com/sthelenscouncil/posts/4474318972598417.
Council Leader David Baines says: “As a council we’re determined to do all we can to support the Forces and local Veterans. We’re fully signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, publishing an annual Armed Forces Covenant Report to demonstrate progress and support on issues such as housing, employment, and health, and we are also a Gold Award holder under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, which recognises those employers leading the way in employment of veterans and reservists.
We will always do everything we can to support our Armed Forces past and present.”
Find out more about the events held to mark Armed Forces Day and lots of information regarding our local Armed Forces heritage and community at www.sthelens.gov.uk/armedforcesday.