Our venues


Posts tagged with 'second world war'

‘Back from the dead!’ The amazing survival story of Lifeboat 12

25 September 2015 by Jen

HMS ANTHONY rescuing survivors from lifeboat 12 © IWM (CH 1354)

HMS Anthony rescuing survivors from lifeboat 12 © IWM (CH 1354)

The sinking of the City of Benares is a story with few bright spots.  Horrific loss of life, particularly amongst children, makes for grim research. There are stories from the tragedy that show the full strength of human endurance, two teenage girls clinging on to an upturned lifeboat for 18 hours through the night in freezing waters and managing to survive, a 7 year old boy who survived the night on a raft amongst sleet and hail and choppy seas. One story of endurance however was only realised 8 days after the sinking, when a further 45 survivors were discovered.  Newspaper headlines described them as, ‘back from the dead’.  Read more…

75 years since sinking of ‘Children’s Ship’ City of Benares

14 September 2015 by Jen

Mural showing Michael Rennie, children's escort in the lifeboat with child from the City of Benares. Copyright The Parish Church of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Mural showing Michael Rennie, children’s escort, in the lifeboat with children from the City of Benares. Copyright The Parish Church of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the loss of the City of Benares, torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in the North Atlantic during the Second World War.  What makes her loss stand out amongst the many lost merchant ships however is the 90 children she was carrying.  They were travelling under the government’s CORB (Children’s Overseas Reception Board) scheme to evacuate children away from a Britain facing the Blitz, and the ever growing possibility of invasion, to the safer shores of the Dominions, particularly Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.  Read more…

VJ Day remembered in Liverpool

14 August 2015 by Sam

man in uniform

Philip Hayden

Karen O’Rourke, Curator of Urban and Military History at the Museum of Liverpool, writes:

“This week I was asked to supply some extracts for a service at Liverpool Parish Church, Our Lady and St Nicholas, happening tomorrow, Saturday 15 August, at 11am. The service is to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day). The anniversary will see services and events happening across Britain commemorating Japan’s surrender in the Second World War. The surrender effectively ended the War and allowed British soldiers to begin to return home.

The extracts that I supplied are from some of our journals relating to King’s Regiment men who served in the Far Eastern region in the Second World War. Two battalions of the King’s Regiment served in Burma as part of the Chindit expeditions behind Japanese lines.  Read more…

HMT Lancastria: a survivor’s words

17 June 2015 by Jen

Private Tom Wood

Private Tom Wood. Copyright unknown; please contact us if you are the copyright holder of this image, as efforts to trace and obtain permission from the copyright holder have been unsuccessful.

Last week I blogged about the tragic loss of the HMT Lancastria in the Second World War and the commemorative service held at Our Lady and St Nicholas’ church last Saturday.  Used during the service were extracts from a first hand account of the sinking, as told by a survivor in a letter belonging to the Maritime Archives collections. Read more…

HMT Lancastria remembered 75 years on

8 June 2015 by Jen

HMT Lancastria in World War Two.  © IWM (N 375)

HMT Lancastria in World War Two. © IWM (N 375)

Of the many losses suffered by the Royal and Merchant Navies in the Second World War there is one which stands out for the sheer scale of the loss of life involved. The sinking of the HMT Lancastria is one of Britain’s worst Maritime disasters; she sank in less than twenty minutes, following a bombing attack, with the staggering loss of several thousand lives.
Read more…

Recognition for those who served on WWII Arctic Convoys

18 May 2015 by Jen

Brenda Shackleton holding her Father's Artic Star

Brenda Shackleton holding her Father’s Arctic Star.  Image courtesy of Brenda Shackleton.

Last December I blogged about Brenda Shackleton’s fight for greater recognition of the remarkable story of the Merchant Navy Rescue ships and their vital contribution to the Second World War. Men of the Merchant Navy, including Brenda’s father Bill Hartley, crewed these small coastal vessels following the Allied convoys from 1940 onwards, with the sole purpose of rescuing survivors should any of the ships be torpedoed. It was a dangerous and difficult task but their actions succeeded in saving the lives of 4194 men throughout the Second World War.

The ships on all the convoys suffered high risks and terrible losses but there was one particular convoy route described by Churchill himself as:

“The worst journey in the world.”

Read more…

Black Germans and the Holocaust

14 January 2015 by Sam

German wartime identity card with portrait photo of a Black woman

The International Slavery Museum will be marking Holocaust Memorial Day on Tuesday 27 January with a special free guest lecture by Professor Eve Rosenhaft from the University of Liverpool, who will be talking about the experiences of the Black German community during the Holocaust.

Eve tells us more:

“When Hitler came to power in 1933, there were a several thousand people of African descent in Germany. They included African Americans, African-Caribbean and Africans passing through, working or recently settled, but the core of Germany’s Black community was made up of men from Germany’s former colonies – East Africa, Togo, and especially Cameroon – with their German-born wives and ‘mixed-race’ children.

This talk focuses on those families. While Hitler was still hoping to recover colonies in Africa, the Nazis hoped to make use of them for political propaganda. Read more…

Rescue Ships addition to Battle of the Atlantic gallery

4 December 2014 by Jen

Brenda Shackleton on gallery with new Rescue Ships panel

Brenda Shackleton on gallery with new Rescue Ships panel

Many people are familiar with the important role the shipping convoys played during the Second World War and the dangers they faced to keep Britain supplied. Shipping provided all the oil, half of all the food, and most raw materials required by Britain. By 1939 this was 55 million tons of food and raw materials per year. The convoys were famously escorted by the Royal Navy, who worked hard to offer protection to the vital shipping, but there was another group supporting them whose role is less well known. Read more…

Pilot memorials unveiled at New Brighton

9 June 2014 by Jen

memorial being unveiled at New Brighton waterfront

© John MacLeod Photography

Two new memorials were unveiled in New Brighton on 19 May to commemorate the losses suffered by the Liverpool Pilot Boat Service in the First and Second World Wars.

For hundreds of years the Pilot boats have been invaluable to ships entering the docks at Liverpool and on the Wirral.  They supply a local Pilot who boards the visiting ship and guides it safely through the difficult channel and into the docks.  The Pilots continued this work throughout the two World Wars, providing an essential service to the wartime convoys.

The wars made the Pilots more valuable than ever but also added massively to the difficulty and danger of their job. Read more…

An amazing escape

3 April 2014 by Sarah Starkey

A black and white photograph of sea and sky with an upturned table barely visible in the centre of the image.

Photograph taken during the aftermath of the sinking of Nova Scotia, Mozambique Channel, 28 Nov 1942 (Maritime Archives reference DX/2592).

This photograph doesn’t look like much, just a grey sea and sky, but if you look closely there is a speck in the middle of the image.  This is a photograph of the aftermath of the wreck of the Liverpool registered Furness Withy ship Nova Scotia which was torpedoed on 28th November 1942 off the coast of Mozambique.  The speck is Read more…

About our blog

Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

Award-winning blog

corpcomms awards winner logo




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.