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Posts tagged with 'second world war'

Celebrating Angus Wood

11 October 2018 by Kay

group photo of men in suits

Angus Wood (with coat over his arms)

This Black History Month we celebrate diverse voices from Liverpool’s Black community. This second blog in the series celebrates the life of Angus Wood and his contribution to the war effort during the Second World War.

“Because I am from Jamaica, an engineer didn’t think I was capable of sharpening a drill, although after that you know we got on smashing. I was treated quite well, especially when they suddenly realised that everything in Kingston was the same as in England”

Angus Wood, speaking in 2002. Liverpool Voices, Liverpool Lives archive, Museum of Liverpool.

Angus was born in Kingston, Jamaica and came to Liverpool when he responded to the call for engineers to come and work in munitions factories here in Britain.  He left Kingston on 13 January 1940 with a large group of other skilled men.

After a long journey they docked in Scotland and travelled by train to Liverpool. Initially they lived at the YMCA in Birkenhead.

Angus was employed at ROF Fazakerley, a newly opened rifle manufacturing factory. Initially he was treated a little differently but once he proved that he knew his job he was treated the same as the other workers. His job, a protected occupation, was to set up machines that the women workers used to cut and grind components for rifles.

Angus also joined the factory’s own Home Guard, performing night fire watches and guard duty before and after a full days work.

The women workers in the factory helped them to find lodgings with local families. Angus lived for two years with the Roberts family, in Crescent Road, Fazakerley, before meeting his wife at the factory and setting up their own home.

Angus and his friends often went to the Grafton Ballroom in their free time. Here they experienced some racism from American GIs. Angus tells us more –

“The Americans didn’t want any coloured chaps in there, and we were British so they couldn’t stop us, and when they objected there was a fight.  I always keep clear of any fights. I was never personally involved in any of them”.

After the war the men were offered the opportunity to return to Jamaica, or stay in Britain. Angus, who was by then married with young children, chose to stay. He lived and worked in Liverpool, staying on at the factory until it closed in 1962.

Don’t forget to download our trail exploring how Liverpool’s Black community is represented in our displays and check out the Black History Month events across National Museums Liverpool’s venues throughout October.

Hands Across The Ocean, a guest blog from visiting author Deborah Heiligman

26 September 2018 by Jen

Deborah Heiligman with Sonia Bech Williams, child survivor of the sinking of the City of Benares, outside Sonia's childhood home.

Deborah Heiligman with Sonia Bech Williams, child survivor of the sinking of the City of Benares, outside Sonia’s childhood home.

Earlier this year I met with American author Deborah Heiligman, who’s working on a new children’s book about the sinking of the City of Benares in World War II. It was lovely to meet her and exchange information on this fascinating story and she’s now been kind enough to write a blog for us talking about her research and what drew her to the City of Benares: Read more…

British child refugees

20 June 2018 by Jen

Refugee Week, founded in 1998 “as a direct reaction to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers”, is marking its 20th anniversary this week, and one of the 20 Simple Acts they have asked people to consider doing this year is spread the word.

Sadly the hostility that inspired this campaign in 1998 is still present and their work is as important as ever. I believe that it is harder to be hostile towards someone once we begin to empathise with them, and as human beings we often empathise most easily with people when we realise they are like ourselves. In keeping with that idea I want to talk about Britain’s own child refugees. Read more…

A story of female friendship and survival

7 March 2018 by Jen

Back and white photo of a large two funnelled liner, the City of Benares

City of Benares, Maritime Archives & Library, MMM collection, reference MCR/61/371 (copyright unknown, believed to be expired)

When I first started to think about women’s stories we could spotlight this year for International Women’s Day there was one in particular that instantly came to mind. I’ve blogged before about the sinking of the Ellerman liner, City of Benares. Torpedoed mid-Atlantic in 1940 while taking child evacuees to Canada, it’s one of the most heart-rending pieces of research I’ve ever carried out. As always with such tragedies though, the larger story is made up of hundreds of smaller, more personal, ones. Beth and Bess are one of these stories. Read more…

‘Never at Sea’… well, never say never

8 November 2017 by Jen

Cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Mis P.G. Stubbs - 1981.730.6

Uniform cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Miss PG Stubbs – 1981.730.6

It is 1917 and for the last three years war on a scale previously unseen and unimagined has been raging between the European powers. Young men have died by the thousands and the end is still not in sight. Britain is facing a shortage of manpower and finally considering radical measures; to free up men for the front, women will be asked to volunteer with the services to fill non-fighting roles. Read more…

‘Hair-raising’ model made in top secret underground bunker

24 October 2017 by Jen

Small dazzle painted ship model of Royal Navy destroyer HMS Witch in wood framed glass case.

Ship model of HMS Witch. Accession number MMM.1993.69

It’s that time of year again and a chill caused by more than just autumn winds is upon us. Halloween is bearing down fast with its usual accompaniment of pumpkins, ghosts, and of course witches! The ship model you can see here may look fairly innocuous but this is the Royal Naval Destroyer HMS Witch and it’s rigged with real human hair! Read more…

Happy 300th Birthday, Bluecoat!

20 April 2017 by Victoria

Building

Bluecoat courtyard

Throughout this year there is an impressive series of events across the city to celebrate 300 years of one of Liverpool’s most cherished (and oldest) buildings, Bluecoat. Read more…

Surviving the TSS Yorkshire sinking

6 March 2017 by Ben

TSS Yorkshire painted by Ernest Barrett. 1987.118.3.37

TSS Yorkshire painted by Ernest Barrett. 1987.118.3.37

The maritime history department at Merseyside Maritime Museum have recently collected an object connected to the sinking of the TSS Yorkshire in 1939.

TSS Yorkshire was built in 1920 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the Liverpool based Bibby Line.  The ship was on her way to Liverpool from Rangoon as part of the allied convoy HG-3.  The Dixon family had joined the ship at Gibraltar, including brother and sister Cyril (aged 15) and Maureen (aged 8), and their mother and father.  On 17 October, 1939 the convoy was in the North Atlantic 160 miles off the north-west coast of Spain.  That afternoon the convoy was attacked by the German U-boat U-37.  Yorkshire was hit and sank with the loss of 58 lives.  Read more…

Arctic Convoys 75th anniversary event

4 November 2016 by Ben

lots of people, including war veterans with medals, looking at museum objects on a table display

There was an event at Liverpool Town Hall on 31 October to mark the 75th anniversary of the first Arctic Convoy in the Second World War.

The convoys took vital supplies and munitions to Russian ports, braving U-boat attacks and the harsh arctic conditions. The first convoy left Liverpool on 12 August 1941.  Read more…

Remembering victims of the May Blitz, 1941

4 May 2016 by Claire

tinted portrait on a mirror

Mirror featuring image of Peter Johnson, aged 15

Here at Museum of Liverpool, we receive many generous, interesting, and often poignant donations of objects to our collections. Recently, we were contacted by a lady called Janet, who wished to kindly donate items that had originally belonged to her late grandmother, Margaret Johnson. The items relate to Margaret’s children who were tragically killed in the May Blitz, the most concentrated series of air attacks on any British city area outside London during the Second World War. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.