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Posts tagged with 'Second World War'

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…

Comedy duo discovered in archives

21 October 2010 by Sam

handwritten list of names including R Cannon and W Ball

The Maritime Archive and Library staff are often asked about DEMS gunners.  They were men who operated the guns on Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships during the First and Second World Wars.  Sometimes they were army personnel,  but sometimes they were merchant seafarers who had undertaken gunnery training. 

DEMS gunners are not specifically listed on crew lists, because they are listed under their main job title.  However, because they were paid an allowance for their gunnery responsibilities they can be spotted in the wages books. Read more…

Royal Oak disaster

18 October 2010 by stepheng

archive photo of a man shaking hands with Hitler

Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.

To me he looks hardly more than a boy but this chilling photograph clearly demonstrates the glorifying of war with little thought for the victims.

The man in the picture with German dictator Adolf Hitler is 31-year-old Gunther Prien, brilliant U-boat submarine commander. He is being awarded a medal for sinking a British battleship with huge loss of life including more than 100 boy sailors.The wreck lies upside down in just 100 feet of water – HMS Royal Oak, sunk with the loss of 833 lives. Read more…

World Museum fact for the day – post-war reopening

15 October 2010 by Lisa

Our World Museum 150th anniversary celebrations kick off tomorrow, so here it our final fact for the day taken from our archives.

Did you know… that in January 1956 the museum reopened for the first time since war damage in 1941.  Writer, heiress and political activist, Nancy Cunard also visited the museum that day.

Don’t forget to leave your memories of the World Museum on our ‘memory wall’ if you are visiting us this weekend!

Black and white photo of interior of museum

Interior of the museum in 1956

Lost with all hands

19 July 2010 by stepheng

man looking at a ship model on display in the museum

Model of the Pinar del Rio. Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.

Ships and the sea are sources of countless stories – to me they are totally absorbing and reveal so much about seafarers and all who step aboard vessels.

I know the buildings and things linked to this particular ship – however tenuously – and we remember those who were involved.

She had fallen behind as the convoy neared its destination when the U-boat submarine struck sending her to the bottom with no survivors.

Montreal City was part of convoy ONS-152 en route from Bristol to New York when she was torpedoed by the U-591 shortly after 4 am on 21 December 1942. Read more…

Navy prisoners

12 July 2010 by stepheng

poster titled 'These men went through hell for you' with images of merchant seamen

Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.

They say art can be very therapeutic and this must certainly be the case for prisoners of war.

Putting it down on paper not only fills time but also provides an opportunity to be creative in grim surroundings. I can well understand how even the most functional building or everyday situation was carefully recorded.

My father, a military policeman, was never captured but I treasure his wartime sketches from Italy and North Africa. He said opportunities to sketch were rare but not to be missed.

Many British and Allied merchant seamen became prisoners of war as a result of the Battle of the Atlantic with its large losses of shipping. Read more…

Tragic sisters

5 July 2010 by stepheng

detail of the deck of a model ship showing passengers on deckchairs and swimming in the pool

Detail of the model of the Arandora Star, on display in the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

I have climbed the tower of Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral – one of the largest cathedrals in the world – and enjoyed one of the finest views of the city.

I also attended the royal ceremony to mark the completion of this hugely inspiring building in 1978.

Years later I learnt that the tower is named after a well-known local family, the Vesteys, whose fortunes rose with the arrival of refrigeration. They paid for most of the 331-ft high tower. Read more…

Remembering HMT Lancastria

2 July 2010 by Sam

This Sunday a Radio 4 documentary, The Sinking of the Lancastria, will highlight the 70th anniversary of Britain’s worst ever maritime disaster. The anniversary was also featured in the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning with interviews with some of the survivors who had gone to lay wreaths at the site of the sinking. It’s worth taking a few minutes to listen again on the BBC website if you missed that.

Curator of maritime collections Ellie Moffat explains more about the tragedy: Read more…

Armed forces weekend

28 June 2010 by Sam

a young woman with two older women, all in naval uniform

The Maritime Museum had two special visitors on Sunday 27 June.

Veteran Wrens Eileen O’Conner and Stella Passey were in full uniform having attended the Royal Naval Association Annual Memorial and Veterans Day service.

They had come to the Museum especially to see ‘Never at sea’ a short performance that tells the story of Liverpool’s role in winning the Battle of the Atlantic and the vital role that Wrens under the street’s of the city.

At the close of the performance, roleplayer Emma Walmsley introduced Eileen and Stella to the rest of the audience as she felt that their contributions needed to be recognised especially in light of Armed Forces Day. The audience gave them a huge round of applause which they very much appreciated. Read more…

Telegraph talent

14 June 2010 by stepheng

We would spread out in the huge cinema with acres of empty seats and settle down with six-penny packets of popcorn for the double feature.

It may have been the Regent or the Regal, the Carlton or the Curzon but I always thought the programmes were great value – two films, a newsreel, trailers and Pearl & Dean’s glossy adverts.

photo of an old ship's telegraph

Ship’s telegraph from the Maritime Museum. Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

Often the support (or B) picture was a naval war film or period sea drama. Key scenes often resounded to the clanging of the ship’s telegraph – its bells heightening the drama.

The ship’s telegraph – usually housed in a brass pedestal on the bridge – transformed communications on vessels as they grew in size. Read more…