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Merchant Navy Day

2 September 2019 by Rebecca

Ships painted in geometric dazzle patterns on the Liverpool waterfront

Dazzle painted ships in the Mersey, off the Liverpool waterfront by Leonard Campbell Taylor, about 1918.

Tuesday 3 September marks Merchant Navy Day when we honour the brave men and women who made many sacrifices to keep Britain alive during both World Wars, and appreciate the UK’s modern day seafarers who are responsible for transporting most of our every day items, such as food and fuel. On this day the Red Ensign, the official Merchant Navy flag, will be flown across the UK.

In the Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Battle of Atlantic gallery and on our website you can find out more information about the Merchant Navy’s vital role in keeping Britain going during these very difficult times. From 1939 the Battle of Atlantic lasted six years and was the longest campaign of the war. Liverpool was Britain’s most important port during the war as the UK depended on its vital North Atlantic shipping routes for food and other imports, which therefore made the city a major target.

Liverpool’s merchant seafarers, ships, dock workers and sailors played a major role to ensure Britain’s survival. Liverpool registered ships were part of Britain’s ocean going merchant fleet. Between 1939 and 1945 the Port of Liverpool handled more 75 million tons of cargo. The Liverpool Pilotage Service was responsible for guiding ships amongst an unlit Liverpool waterfront, whilst also contending with enemy mines and air raids.

It’s fitting on Merchant Navy day to recognise the sacrifices made by seafarers in the First World War as well. In 2012 the museum acquired the painting, ‘Dazzle painted ships in the Mersey, off the Liverpool waterfront’ by Leonard Campbell Taylor which shows camouflage ships with these patterns during the First World War, the main ship we believe to be the Cunard line ship Mauretania. The painting on display in the museum’s Lusitania gallery, is a reminder that even during times of conflict, the Port of Liverpool and its ships and seafarers continued to work to keep the country supplied with food, fuel and other cargo, just as they do today.

1919 Race Riots centenary – looking back at Untold Stories

23 May 2019 by Karen O'Rourke

In November 2013 at the Museum of Liverpool, we launched our Untold Stories project, exploring the stories of some of Liverpool’s Black Families in the First World War. We were able to search back through the histories of several local families, who then featured in our exhibition, Reflecting on Liverpool’s Home Front, which was a great success and ran for a year from July 2014.

As part of the project, we worked with local groups and organisations to create a mix of events, both in the Museum and in the Liverpool 8 area. While working on a series of creative writing workshops with Writing on the Wall, we got the chance to look at an amazing archive of material, relating to the Race Riots in Liverpool that happened in 1919. Now, 100 years on, Writing on the Wall is telling the story of the Riots as part of their WoWFest 2019 programme. Read more…

Remembering Lusitania

3 May 2019 by Ellie

Seafarer in uniform on board ship

James Wallace wearing his Cunard uniform. Image courtesy of Kath Kavanagh

Tuesday 7th May 2019 marks the 104th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Lusitania. Each year we hold a commemorative service alongside the Lusitania propeller on our quaysides, starting at 1.45pm. Everyone is welcome to join us to remember the 1191 men, women and children who lost their lives, as well as the survivors and families affected.

Kath Kavanagh will be attending our commemoration this year and has kindly shared her thoughts about her Great Uncle who was on board Lusitania when she was torpedoed:

“My Great Uncle James Wallace joined Cunard in 1912 as a second class waiter on board Lusitania. When the ship was attacked 3 years later, James was just 21 years old. He jumped into the water with his friend George Thomas (assistant officers’ mess steward) who drowned. Uncle Jim couldn’t swim but managed to stay afloat for approximately 5 hours before being rescued by the Julia patrol boat. I believe he was in hospital in Queenstown (now Cobh) for a while before heading back to Liverpool.

He continued to serve with Cunard for 46 years, becoming the youngest man to hold the position of chief deck steward when he was promoted in 1919. Read more…

The Chinese Labour Corps – ‘Labour conquers all’

9 August 2018 by Karen O'Rourke

Men

Chinese Labour Corps Image: W J Hawkings Collection, courtesy of John de Lucy

At the eastern side of Anfield Cemetery, there is a strip of land where the Liverpool Chinese community are buried. Given that Liverpool is home to the oldest Chinese Community in Europe, these graves are hardly a surprising sight. What is surprising perhaps, are the five small white Commonwealth War Graves clustered together in the middle. They are the graves of men from the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC) who died in Liverpool in 1917 and 1918. Lui Feng Hsiang, the last of the five men to be buried, died 100 years ago today (Thu 9 Aug). Born and raised in China, how did these men come to be buried in foreign soil so far away from home?

Read more…

RMS Lusitania – remembering Alfred Faulkner Wheelhouse

4 May 2018 by Ellie

People gathered at Lusitania propeller

Lusitania commemoration 2017

Monday 7 May will mark the 103rd anniversary of the sinking of RMS Lusitania, and we will be gathering alongside the Lusitania propeller for our annual commemorative service.

Peter Kelly, Lusitania historian and biographer, is continuing his work on our ‘People of the Lusitania’ resource and is here to share details from a rather moving biography:

“As the anniversary of the sinking of Lusitania approaches, I’d like to recount a story of a conspiracy! A conspiracy demonstrating the humanity, compassion, consideration, and decency of two men – one in Liverpool, and the other in the south west of Ireland – in an effort to ease the pain and heartache of the widowed mother of one of the crew members who perished in the sinking, and give her some inner peace by facilitating her visit to the final resting place of her dear son. Read more…

Centenary of Mersey ferries’ daring Zeebrugge raid

19 April 2018 by Jen

Black and white photograph of two Mersey ferries

The Mersey ferries Daffodil and Iris II at Dover soon after the vessels returned from the Zeebrugge Raid © IWM (Q 18888)

Anyone who’s looked out across the Mersey in the last couple of years has probably noticed the very colourful Mersey ferry Snowdrop in her fabulous dazzle-inspired livery. Designed by Peter Blake to mark the centenary of the First World War, it is reminiscent of the Dazzle camouflage used by thousands of ships in the conflict. If you step on board and visit the display co-curated by National Museums Liverpool you’ll discover that when the Mersey ferries played their own role in the war, their livery couldn’t have looked more different to the spectacular Dazzle. Read more…

Remembering the loss of the Alfred H Read pilot boat, 1917

20 December 2017 by Ben

The Alfred H. Read pilot boat. From the Norman Morrison Collection, National Museums Liverpool.

Since the Liverpool Pilots Service was created in 1766, the pilots have risked their lives on a daily basis to ensure the safe passage of ships to and from Liverpool.  There are many tales of bravery where a pilot’s actions have saved lives and cargo from disaster.  Unfortunately there are also tales of tragedy, where the Pilot Service laments the loss of one (or many) of their own.  On 28 December 2017, it will be the 100 year anniversary of the worst disaster to befall the Liverpool Pilots.  This was the loss the Alfred H Read pilot boat in 1917.  Read more…

‘Never at Sea’… well, never say never

8 November 2017 by Jen

Cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Mis P.G. Stubbs - 1981.730.6

Uniform cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Miss PG Stubbs – 1981.730.6

It is 1917 and for the last three years war on a scale previously unseen and unimagined has been raging between the European powers. Young men have died by the thousands and the end is still not in sight. Britain is facing a shortage of manpower and finally considering radical measures; to free up men for the front, women will be asked to volunteer with the services to fill non-fighting roles. Read more…

Passchendaele Remembered

31 July 2017 by Karen O'Rourke

medals

Captain Noel Chavasse (VC and Bar, MC) medal group on public display in Liverpool for the first time at Museum of Liverpool until Jan 2018. Image Courtesy of the Lord Ashcroft Collection © IWM

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele. Read more…

Aidan Chavasse – centenary of the death of Noel Chavasse’s younger brother.

4 July 2017 by Karen O'Rourke

Soldier

Lieutenant Aidan Chavasse

In the coming weeks, there will be much written about Captain Noel Chavasse VC, as the 100th anniversary of his death on 4 August 1917 approaches. Read more…



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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.