A Maltese sailor recently represented the Merchant Navy Association at a memorial service in Sydney, Australia.

Louis Bonnici, 70, who lives in Ivybridge, England, read the naval prayer and laid a wreath on behalf of association president Vivien Foster during the first Merchant Navy Day held at Mosman Centaph, New South Wales.

"It was the best day of my life. I was so proud to be a part of the day," he said.

The veteran seaman joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 1957, becoming a yacht captain before retiring in 1994. He had immigrated to Australia in 1965, before moving to England in 2003.

The auxiliary is a civilian-manned fleet which provides the Royal Navy with fuel and supplies.

The Merchant Navy was crucial to the expansion of the British Empire, becoming the world's foremost merchant fleet, benefiting from trade in sugar, spices and tea with India and the Far East.

Despite losing more than half its fleet in World War I and World War II its convoy ships successfully imported enough supplies to probably allow victory.

kbugeja@timesofmalta.com

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