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Posts tagged with 'second world war'

Aces low

14 February 2011 by Stephen

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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 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…

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