Ayrshire's first memorial to merchant seamen who lost their lives during conflicts was officially unveiled in Girvan yesterday (Sunday).

The ceremony was held at Girvan's harbourside on Merchant Navy Day at 11am on September 3, followed by a reception at the nearby Quay Zone.

Former merchant seamen from around Scotland and the Merchant Navy Association were among the many who attended the event

Former South Ayrshire Council leader Peter Henderson helped to organise the memorial, which also pays tribute to the fishermen, lighthouse keepers and other seamen who died during the wars.

Merchant Navy sailors paid a dreadful toll as they brought vital supplies to and from Britain across the Atlantic and elsewhere during the Second World War. 

Ayr Advertiser: The memorial was unveiled in Girvan on Sunday

Peter said: "The Merchant Navy lost more personnel than all the other services during the war, and people need to understand that. There's a reason it was called the 'Forgotten Service'.

"There were no medals, and their families got nothing.

"When they came home, those who were lucky enough to survive, including my father, had to go to the Seaman's Mission and get some clothers out of a box and a train fare home.

"The Merchant Navy also played a key role in the Falklands conflict. People either don't know about it, or have forgotten what they did."

The former Girvan and South Carrick councillor, who resigned in June, added: "Girvan Community Council and Kay's Curling helped with the ceremony.

"There are memorials to merchant sailors in Shetland and the Western Isles and a small one in Leith, but this will be the first in Ayrshire. 

"It is important that people learn about the sacrifices made by merchant sailors and fishermen from Ayr, Girvan and Troon, amongst many others along the coast."

The Girvan and District Great War Project were also involved, and are currently raising funds for a permanent memorial to the 31 crew of SS Longwy, who died when the French ship was sunk after being torpedoed in November 1917 off Corsewall Point near Stranraer.