Our venues


Posts tagged with 'second world war'

Lost with all hands

19 July 2010 by Stephen

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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…

Lost at sea

26 April 2010 by Stephen

archive photo of a ship exploding

A merchant ship exploding after being torpedoed by a U-boat. Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo

I have known several former Merchant Navy members who went through the ordeals of the Second World War.

Those I knew returned more or less safely to resume their peacetime lives but all were left scarred to a greater or lesser degree.

The Merchant Navy suffered heavy losses in the Second World War as ships struggled against German aircraft, mines and U-boat submarines to successfully bring vital supplies to besieged Britain.

It is likely that at least one quarter of the men who were in the British Merchant Navy at the outbreak of war in 1939 did not survive until the end in 1945 – some 30,000 dead. Most of their bodies were never recovered. Read more…

Built and repaired

29 March 2010 by Stephen

archive photo of several large ships in a dock surrounded by cranes

Cammell Laird’s fitting-out basin, September 1940. Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.

I believe shipbuilding is vital both as an industry and as a means of remaining independent and self-sufficient in times of crisis.

A strong navy is essential for an island nation because the vast majority of goods travel by sea. The Second World War demonstrated how important it was to be able to make and repair ships quickly to enable Britain to survive against terrible odds.

Three of the most famous warships of this period – the Prince of Wales, Ark Royal and Rodney – were built at Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead. Read more…

Rescue tugs

15 March 2010 by Stephen

archive photo of a tug

HM Rescue Tug Storm King in March 1943, from the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

I was surprised to discover that tugs sailed with convoys of merchant ships bringing vital supplies to Britain during the Second World War.

The role of the tugs was to assist stricken vessels after they were damaged by enemy attacks. Their vital work boosted the war effort by saving hundreds of warships and their crews,

The Royal Navy’s Rescue Tug Section was set up at the beginning of the war to provide suitable ocean-going tugs to save torpedoed ships. This was dangerous work requiring the greatest skills to ensure that ships were brought to safe havens despite bad weather, the presence of U-boat submarines and enemy aircraft. Read more…

On this day in history… January 1966

4 January 2010 by Lisa

For the first of our series of ‘On this day in history’ blogs to comemorate 150 years of the World Museum, we are looking to the memories of ex-staff member, (former Keeper) Eric Greenwood. Here he recalls an important time in the museum’s history after the destruction of the Second World War, when the museum was able to return to displaying treasured artefacts and hosting evening events…

Front of a museum with stone steps and columns.

The steps up to the old entrance to the museum.

I joined the staff of the then ‘City of Liverpool Museums’ on 1 January 1966. At that time only a temporary display in the Lower Horseshoe Gallery was open to the public.
In the following years the newly built ‘phase two block’ – situated behind the steps at the front of the museum in William Brown Street – was opened in stages. This was an exciting time as curators and public alike saw the museum’s treasures for the first time since the beginning of the second world war, 30 years earlier. 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.