In addition to his role as Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, Chris Shirling-Rooke, also fulfils the duties of Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Liverpool. In that capacity he had the honour of attending the Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving held by The Parachute Regimental Association (Liverpool Branch) at Our Lady and St Nicholas’, Liverpool Parish Church, on Sunday 15th September 2019. The event was all the more poignant this year, being the 75th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem.
Commenting on an uplifting and emotionally charged service, Chris Shirling-Rooke said:
“75 years ago this week, thousands of brave Allied soldiers primarily from the UK and Poland took part in the Battle of Arnhem, a major battle of the Second World War that was fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside, to free our Dutch brethren from the evil of Nazi occupation. The objective, to enter the Netherlands after the success of the Battle of Normandy in France and Belgium, was bold and challenging and not without considerable risk to the lives of our military personnel. Yet, as always, our men acquitted themselves with the utmost professionalism and dedication to their cause in the face of considerable resistance.
“I was incredibly moved and honoured to be amongst veterans and their families at this service of thanksgiving and remembrance. There’s something very personal about meeting the people who literally freed one’s own grandfather from turpitude. Whilst I am always cautious about drawing parallels between events in a different time and different context, the significance of the sacrifices made by our paratroopers in September 1944 wasn’t lost on me. It rather put the debates around Brexit and Britain’s place in the world in some perspective as I reflected on the sense of brotherhood, mutual support and the selfless willingness of the bravest people on the planet to pay with the ultimate sacrifice if necessary in the cause of freedom. But another word also stuck in my mind, that of trust. Trust on the part of those obeying their battle orders and the mutual trust necessary between comrades in arms to support each other and collaborate in a common endeavour. Or the trust placed by the Dutch citizens in our soldiers to defend them come what may. Why do these good and righteous instinctive values and principles seem so absent currently from our national psyche?
“Some people have compared the challenge that Brexit poses with aspects of the Second World War or remarked that it is our biggest challenge as a country since those dark days. Really? Or is it that we’ve forgotten what our core values truly are? Values that are embodied in those young men who were prepared to do whatever it took to fulfil their duty no matter the cost. To free a peoples unknown to them, literally offering their own lives because it was simply the right thing to do!
“Within my own industry, the maritime sector, trust has always been at our core of how we interact and indeed how we conduct our business affairs. These core values and principles are amongst the most important things in life. As we pay tribute to the sacrifices of the past, those values of our Nation from only 75 years ago, should and must guide us in how we interact with our friends and allies in Europe both now and forever.”