Our venues


Posts tagged with 'war'

Justicia justice

31 August 2010 by Stephen

At=rchivbe photo of the Lusitania at the Liverpool landing stage

I came across this story while reading about the conflict at sea during the First World War and was filled with gloom.

This liner seemed to have been earmarked for destruction from the start and was sunk even when under the protection of warships. Her brief life had been blighted by the misfortunes of other great ships.

The 32,234-ton Justicia was built for the Dutch Holland America Line at Belfast’s famous Harland & Wolff shipyard and launched just weeks before war broke out. Read more…

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…

Merchant defence

10 May 2010 by Stephen

merchant ship alongside two large Royal Navy ships at sea

The Fort George refuelling two Royal Navy ships at sea. Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.

I have many memories of the 1982 Falklands War – the first fully-televised conflict, bringing the stark reality of vivid images of fighting to our homes.

I was a national news agency reporter at the time and covered political and other war-related issues. Ships came to the fore because of the huge distances involved.

Merchant ships and their crews were vital in the Falklands campaign. In recent years, however, the dramatic decline in the number of British ships and seafarers has placed this traditional defence role in doubt. Read more…

Escort port

28 December 2009 by Stephen

Black and white photo of cadets posing for photo

Officers and men from HM Trawler Northern Wave at Wallasey Dock. Image courtesy Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

I recently appeared on the Liverpool KVFM community radio station hosted by local children and was asked why Liverpool suffered so many German air raids.

The answer was that the city was the main port for the convoys of merchant ships that brought vital supplies to Britain. Liverpool played a key part in the Battle of the Atlantic by serving as a base for escort ships defending the Second World War convoys.

Until mid-1941 only a small force of naval escort ships was based in Liverpool. A fleet of Fleetwood trawlers was established at Wallasey Dock, Birkenhead, for minesweeping and convoy escort work. Read more…

Benares innocents

30 November 2009 by Stephen

Black and white photo of boys being carried by sailors

Image courtesy Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

I am particularly moved by this story which graphically demonstrates the caring nature of people placed in extreme danger. We cannot comprehend what the victims of this disaster went through – many died but the surviving children were tenderly cared for as they awaited rescue.

The sinking of the passenger liner City of Benares with the loss of 81 of 100 children on board brought home the ruthlessness of German U-boat submarines to newspaper readers and radio listeners all over the world. Read more…

Never at sea

27 November 2009 by Sam

roleplayer in Wrens uniform

Copyright Lee Doherty

Emma Walmsley from the Maritime Museum’s Education team has just introduced a new character to her repertoire of historical figures. Here she describes how she researched and prepared the performance in order to make it as true to life as possible:

“November saw the first performances of ‘Never at sea’ at the Maritime Museum – a new piece set in Liverpool during World War Two focusing on the city’s involvement in the Battle of the Atlantic.

I play a fictional Wren, May Hatton, based in the secret underground HQ at Derby House which was responsible for co-ordinating the convoys bringing our supplies into the port and for training escort commanders in tactics for contending with the U-Boat threat. 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.