4,707 British seamen were wounded, and 5,720 became prisoners of war. The first of the deaths came within hours of war being declared on 3 September 1939 when the liner Athenia was sunk with the loss of 128 passengers and crew. Despite these huge losses and the call-up of merchant seamen, especially officers, into the Royal Navy Reserve during the war, the Merchant Navy did not suffer many manpower shortages except during the early days of the naval call-up and during particularly bad periods. If it can be said that from 1942 onwards American had a surfeit of ships but a dearth of seamen to man them, then it can be said that with the British it was the other way round.
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