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Posts tagged with 'Second World War'

Unexpected shrapnel

10 November 2011 by Sarah

Photograph of box containing documents

File of papers relating to postwar repair of the Port of Liverpool building (MDHB collection).

The Maritime Archives & Library holds a very large collection of records relating to the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board (MDHB), who ran the Liverpool & Birkenhead dock system from 1858 until 1971. The MDHB, like most large organisations, were keen on committees and reports, and produced a lot of documents.  These are a great resource for studying the history of Liverpool, but can be a little overwhelming.  Occasionally a box reveals something unexpected, such as this piece of shrapnel stored amongst a file relating to the repair of the Dock Office, the Port of Liverpool Building at the Pier Head.  The note on the envelope states that the shrapnel was taken out of the ‘copper covering of Dome, Dock Office’. The Port of Liverpool Building was hit by a mine on the morning of 3rd May 1941 which caused a fire that destroyed most of the east side of the building before being brought under control. Read more…

Politicians

26 September 2011 by Sarah

Photograph of Harrison Line ship named Politician leaving Liverpool

Politician, Harrison Line, leaving dock in Liverpool (reference McR/38/142).

Ok it’s a poor link, but as we don’t have any photographs of politicians, apart from ex-merchant seafarer John Prescot, I thought I’d throw in this photograph of the Harrison Line vessel Politician while the Labour Party Conference is on in Liverpool. 

T & J Harrison, like many shipping companies, used a theme when naming their vessels.  In their case it was professions, which are slightly easier to remember than Blue Funnel’s(Ocean Steamship Company) use of characters from Greek mythology.  Harrison Line never named a ship Archivist, but they did have 3 vessels named Custodian, which is pretty close to my job description.  Read more…

Maritime Tales – Secret Victory

7 June 2011 by Lisa

A WREN at work

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

I think this story illustrates how timing and quick-thinking can create major shifts in events. 

In wartime things move very quickly and often with momentous consequences. I have often wondered what would have happened if war leaders had made different decisions. So often the individual plays a key part in the drama.

 

The controversial sinking of a British liner just hours after start of the Second World War and the foundering of a German U-boat submarine are strangely linked. Read more…

Liverpool’s Chinese community during the Blitz

4 May 2011 by Lucy

Francesca Aiken, Assistant Exhibition Curator for the Global City Gallery in the new Museum of Liverpool writes:


Seventy years since the May Blitz, the spirit of Pitt Street lives on.

 

Seventy years ago this month, a devastating aerial bombardment struck Liverpool, ending lives, demolishing homes and displacing whole communities. It is in tribute to “the spirit of an unconquered people” that Liverpool’s Anglo-Chinese community were part of the effort to keep calm and carry on, piecing back together not just buildings but homes and livelihoods.

Pitt Street, 1915, shaped by tall converted warehouse buildings and cobbled streets, stretches out under the constant watch of St Michaels Church spire, busy with dozens of Chinese businesses, from boarding houses to grocers and tobacconists. This was the birthplace of Liverpool’s Chinese community, the destination for seamen from all over the world including Spain, the Philippines, Italy, the West Indies and Scandinavia – to name just a few. To the people who lived and grew up there, this was ‘world’s end.’ Pitt Street was the place to go, bustling with shops and cafes all within easy reach of the docks. Kwong Shang Lung was one of the city’s earliest grocers to specialise in Chinese food, trading from 1915 until the bombs fell in 1941. Read more…

Convoy HX 219

8 March 2011 by stepheng

Small model ships

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post and Echo

I would not like to be a pirate – apart from being illegal, the chances of meeting a violent end are too great– but I do like the swashbuckling aspects.

The sight of the Jolly Roger (the pirate skull and crossbones) being raised is pretty exciting – it is a part of pirate lore which has been adapted by submariners. 

A British commander first flew the notorious flag in modern times nearly 100 years ago. Read more…

Aces low

14 February 2011 by stepheng

Man in uniform on ship's gangplank

Image courtesy Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

A submarine is the last vessel I would choose to go to sea in – the idea of being unable to escape in an emergency would be terrifying.

Submarine crews have played a vital role in warfare for nearly a century. Their successes in the First World War sounded the death knell for the battleship era.

The submarines of the past were minnows compared to those of today. I have attended a number of naming ceremonies at Barrow-in-Furness and been astonished by the enormous size of modern subs. Read more…

Cam ships

7 February 2011 by stepheng

old photo of an aircraft carrier from above

Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

My first construction kit was of a galleon with a solid balsa wood hull and colourful cardboard cabins and sails.

All the later ones were plastic. I have fond memories of making a big model of HMS Hood with The Searchers on the radio in the background singing ‘Ain’t Gonna Kiss Ya’. Strange how music can imprint pictures in the brain.

My favourite aircraft construction kit was a Swordfish – I marvelled how this hugely-successful biplane was put together, with a lethal torpedo slung beneath its fuselage.

Among the measures used by Britain to protect beleaguered convoys in the Second World War was a unique type of ship which catapulted fighter aircraft into action. Read more…

Through the lens

31 January 2011 by stepheng

old binoculars in museum display

Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

The Victorian child’s brass telescope attracted my eye in the cluttered window of the old junk shop in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. After some cajoling, it was mine and I was soon down at the river scrutinising the great ships coming and going from the docks.

I still have the little telescope bought all those years ago and continue to be fascinated by the hidden worlds revealed by lenses.

The invention of the telescope helped transform safety at sea as mariners could now see distant shorelines and other vessels not easily visible to the human eye. Read more…

Aircraft threat

13 December 2010 by stepheng

I am an amateur cartoonist and caricaturist – all right, a doodler – who’s also very interested in the development of this art form since it emerged about the time of the English Civil War.

The Second World War inspired some classic newspaper and magazine drawings which kept up morale and were sometimes also used on propaganda posters and leaflets.

cartoon showing a boat shooting a plane with a wolf's head

Captioned: ‘Who’s afraid of the big bad wulf? (By holding everything, including his fire, one of HM tugs brought one down on 11th January 1941′. Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.

This cartoon (pictured) is not particularly well drawn but it captures perfectly the mood of the time and one man’s brave determination to have a go.

Allied merchant shipping carrying vital supplies used the convoy system in an attempt to protect itself from combined U-boat submarine and air attacks during the war. Read more…

War imports

25 October 2010 by stepheng

archive photo of men unloading cargo from a ship

Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

I have many memories of Liverpool’s docklands when they were labour-intensive before the widespread use of containers.

Once I was flung off my motorcycle when the wheels got caught in the dock railway lines. The windscreen and front mudguard were shattered.

As I wheeled my machine past the police officer he joked: “You crunched!” (This was a catch phrase from a crisps advert of the time, 1968.)

Some 25 years earlier the Port of Liverpool fought a daily battle of survival bringing in vital supplies. Read more…