The Royal Mail is looking for Eastbourne veterans and descendants of the crew who sailed aboard Merchant Navy ships over the past 200 years.
The search anticipates the release of a new series of limited edition Merchant Navy stamps, which will go on sale in September.
Eastbourne Merchant Navy veterans, or families whose ancestors served on the Merchant Navy’s most famous ships, are invited to share their stories and to celebrate the heritage of Britain’s civilian seafarers.
Some 35,000 British merchant navy sailors were killed during World War Two alone - many of whom were from Eastbourne - with thousands of vessels lost.
These ships made such a great contribution not just to Britain’s prosperity, but also to its very survival with their invaluable assistance to the Allied war effort, bringing vital supplies in the face of great danger.
Andrew Hammond, director of stamps and collectables, Royal Mail said: “We are keen to hear from relatives of those who served on ships that sailed from 1813 to the 1980s – particularly those related to the heroes who sailed the merchant vessels during the Battle of the Atlantic and in the Arctic convoys, pitting themselves against German U-boats with the losses of many lives.
“As well as families, we would of course love to hear form surviving crew members themselves from the more recent Merchant Navy ships.
“The Battle of the Atlantic, which continued for the entirety of the Second World War, was key to Allied victory and the Merchant Navy’s role can never be forgotten,” Mr Hammond said.
He added: “Less celebrated - yet no less important - were the Arctic convoys, in which hundreds of Merchant Navy ships took part in dozens of treacherous missions between 1941 and 1945 to resupply troops on the Eastern Front.
“Stories of what life was like on board these ships need to be told so that future generations do not forget the significance of the role played by civilian shipping.”
Once the stories are gathered, selected people will be invited to a reception aboard the Cutty Sark where they can share stories and hoist flags commemorating a number of the great Merchant Navy vessels.
Families of sailors who worked on the East Indiaman Atlas of 1813, Royal Mail ships Britannia and Queen Elizabeth which entered service in 1840 and 1940, The Cutty Sark (1870) and The Clan Matheson (1919) are also encouraged to get in touch.
It is hoped that surviving sailors who sailed aboard the bulk carrier The Lord Hinton in the 1980s – only 30 years ago- will make contact as well.
Those wishing to share their stories are requested to email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Miki on 07900 690 574.
Descendants preferring to write in can do so to: Merchant Navy Campaign, Office 101, 145-147 Boston Road, Ealing, London, W7 3SA.
Please include contact details and the names of the ships that individuals or descendants served upon