Our venues


Posts tagged with 'second world war'

Maritime Tales – Human Toll

8 April 2011 by Stephen

Map of sea routes

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

Until I studied this map (pictured) I was unaware of some of the great distances German U-boats travelled in search of prey.

I had heard stories of people taking pot shots at surfaced submarines coming up for air in Caribbean palm-fringed lagoons. This creates amazing pictures in the mind far from a conventional view of subs as oil-soaked tin cans.

Towards the end of the war there were U-boats capable of travelling from Germany to South America without refuelling and there are rumours top Nazis escaped this way. Read more…

British art gets a make-over at the Walker

21 March 2011 by Lisa

It’s a very exciting week this week as the newly refurbished room at the Walker Art Gallery, ‘British art 1880-1950’, is opening again on Friday. It will showcase pieces from our collections including works by LS Lowry and Lucian Freud, plus many works which have never been on display before!

I had a chat with our curator of British art, Laura MacCulloch, who told me more about what you can expect to see there:

Tell me about the different types of works which are being brought together in this room?

This work brings together paintings, sculptures and works on paper with furniture and ceramics all made between 1880 and 1950.  It’s a really exciting period to explore as artists begin to break away from the traditional, Victorian ideas about art and experiment with styles, colours and techniques. It’s great to be able to show fine and decoratvie arts together because it shows how artists working in all media experimented.

How does this room differ from the more ‘standard’ rooms of paintings in the Walker?

We are aiming to give our visitors more of the context surrounding the art. Between 1880 and 1950 there were huge political and social upheavals brought on by two world wars and increasing industrialisation. We have created an interactive timeline which includes lots of information and images relating to key historical and art historical events. There is more information on the timeline than we could ever fit on a label. Read more…

Convoy HX 219

8 March 2011 by Stephen

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 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…

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.