Observing Liverpool, the Battle of the Atlantic

Today’s sunny meanderings took in the sad remnant of the Liverpool Show on the Mystery, the thronged remembering of the Battle of the Atlantic down on the river, making sure the goslings and the cygnets are all right in Sefton Park (they are) and tea on the allotment with Sarah and Gemma.Battle01

The Mystery, just by our house, place of the Liverpool Show of my childhood memories. Once a thing of splendour (120,000 people turned up on one day in 1965) and even of animals and agriculture, now reduced to the diminished spectacle of this little fair, still turning up on the annual weekend when it used to have much more company.

Caged in, forlorn and not looking like much fun.

Caged in, forlorn and not looking like much fun.

So I got the bus down to the Pier Head.

Where grander things were taking place.

Where grander things were taking place.

These ships obviously weren’t in it, but they’re here as part of the 70th Anniversary Remembrance of the Battle of the Atlantic. Liverpool was the centre of Allied Operations for this and it took place throughout the Second World War, keeping supply lines open to Britain. It came to a head though in May 1943 with the destruction of much of the enemy U-Boat fleet.Battle04 Battle05

And it's seriously crowded down here.

And it’s seriously crowded down here.

Battle07 Battle08 Battle09

Ships, bands and unusual company for the Ferries.

Ships, bands and unusual company for the Ferries.

And, just a few now, veterans of the fight.

And, just a few now, veterans of the fight.

In all, 90,000 died keeping the sea lanes open. And we remember all of those who died during the Battle. Some very personally.Battle11Battle13Battle12And now, meet Lewis Trinder.Battle15 Battle16Volunteered for the Navy on his eighteenth birthday in 1942. When I came across him he was talking about the U-Boat battles he’d been part of, and then taking part in the Normandy Landings in 1944 at the age of 20.

Lewis Trinder's medals.

Lewis Trinder’s medals.

He explained his medals as a ‘rainbow.’

‘In the end there were all sorts of us from all over the world involved in stopping the Nazis, a real rainbow of us, to keep us free. I was glad to do it.’

Thank you Lewis Trinder. It was an honour to meet you.Battle18

Apparently this is ‘the final national anniversary commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic.’ If so, we’ll never forget.Battle19 Battle20 Battle21 Battle22 Battle23 Battle24

All along the way, past the Pier Head, the Princes Dock and the landing stages now more usually used by cruise ships, beautiful, nostalgic music was playing on the PA. ‘For all we know,’ ‘I’ll be seeing you,’ ‘We’ll meet again.’ The music of being separated by war in the 1940s. And long beyond the military recruitment stalls of today…

Out where the docks are still dilapidated...

Out where the docks are still dilapidated…

I came across the source of these songs.

“For all we know we may never meet again, before you go make this moment sweet again.

We won’t say goodbye until the last minute, I’ll hold out my hand and my heart will be in it.”

Battle26

Beautifully done.

Beautifully done.

Rather than walk back to the Pier Head through the crowds by the ships I cut back from the front along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal extension, opened in 2009.Battle28 Battle29 Battle30

The modern hotels and offices are inside the old dock wall.

Over the wall, the astonishingly ugly and now empty Royal Insurance Building.

Over the wall, the astonishingly ugly and now empty Royal & Sun Alliance Building.

And more recent apartments.

And more recent apartments.

Back at the Pier Head.

Young sea cadets.

Young sea cadets.

And entertainment around the new ‘could be anywhere’ blocks of brutalist black glass that have sprung up down here.Battle34 Battle35 Battle36Time to go.Battle37

I catch the 82 bus and cut through Lark Lane to see how the new arrivals are doing in Sefton Park. The park too is crowded on this sunny day.

So the swans and their cygnets are safe out in the middle of the lake.

So the swans and their cygnets are safe out in the middle of the lake.

And the goslings?

Tucked up in the top corner of the lake, a part that humans can't get to. All well.

Tucked up in the top corner of the lake, a part that humans can’t get to. All well.

Time for Plot 44? I head over to see Sarah and Gemma.Battle41 Battle42 Battle43 Battle44 Battle45 Battle46 Battle47 Battle48

Tea and talk as evening comes on.

Tea and talk as evening comes on.

And to finish today, a verse from a poem called ‘Heroes,’ written by David Partridge of Botany Bay, Australia. It was read out, at the prior request of the deceased, at his funeral service, which Sarah conducted a few weeks ago. The deceased was in the Merchant Navy, in the Battle of the Atlantic.

“Their legacy is freedom to those who hold it dear,

To walk with clear horizons and never hide in fear.

So when you speak of heroes, remember those at sea

From Britain’s Merchant Navy who died to keep us free.”

17 thoughts on “Observing Liverpool, the Battle of the Atlantic

  1. stan cotter

    Ronnie. Thank you so much for the fantastic photos of the Battle of the Atlantic, I couldn’t get down there but your photos took me there.

    I have often commented eg the little bent old feller on a walking stick who keeps getting under your feet when you’re trying to rush by, may well have been one of these heroes. It greives me so much when I see so called celebrities being given knighthoods. When these men, real men put their lives on the line for our freedom and get very little. Every one of them should have been knighted.

    The dilapidated building at the Pier Head is on the end of the old Princes landing stage, and it used to be the ticket office for vehicles using the Isle of Man steam packet vessels.

    Thanks again Ronnie, wonderful

    Reply
  2. Stephen Roberts

    Yes. I echo the above comments. The sailors of the Battle of the Atlantic are often forgotten. Thanks to them all, including my great uncle Sydney Roberts whose ship was torpedoed in 1941 and who died later from the effects of being adrift at sea for many days.

    Reply
  3. stan cotter

    I had an uncle in the Royal Navy who sailed right through the second world war. And when I think back he was a young man. He was sank a few times but he eventually passed on through old age, god bless him.

    Reply
  4. Stephen Roberts

    Thanks Ronnie. Your post also reminds me of our old departed family friend, John Corrigan, who used to tell me his memories of the telegram boy coming down his street every day with news of loved ones having been lost due to u-boat action. He disapproved of the respect shown to captured commanders such as Otto Kretschmer of the U99 who was brought ashore at Liverpool. He was the one who did for my uncle’s ship, the “Laurentic”. Hard times. Let’s hope nothing like that ever happens again and that all current wars can be ended peacefully.

    Reply
  5. Ronnie Hughes Post author

    I understand how hard it must have been to see enemy officers treated with such respect, but in fact it’s essential isn’t it, to be decent to our fellow human beings? Otherwise there could never be any hope for peace between once warring nations.

    Reply
  6. stan cotter

    I refer to my earlier comment re the heroes marching through Liverpool and their rights to be called Sir.

    Today I see **** and **** would love to have a knighthood. What is the world coming when two such petty so called entertainers see themselves as knights
    of the realm?

    Reply
  7. writingwitch2013

    Loved the poem and looking through your photos. I came across your blog because my dad (86) took himself down on Saturday to walk with the merchant navy veterans as he was a gunner at the age of 15 and lost a lot of his friends in the battle. If I had known he was going I would have gone and taken photos but he didn’t say he was going and I was 70 miles away oblivious. I am searching for photos he may be in, and one photo in particular that a young man took of him and an elderly veteran sat on a bench talking. If you come across a photo of that description please let me know. Thanks again for sharing.

    Reply
  8. Ronnie Hughes Post author

    I wish I’d taken that photograph of your Dad, but maybe someone else reading this might have noticed it somewhere?

    But I hope he had a splendid day being so celebrated at the weekend. Every one of them deserved it.

    Reply
  9. writingwitch2013

    Ronnie, he did enjoy it. He said he had to fight back the tears when he heard how much the crowd applauded. He wasn’t going to go because his sight is bad, but he was so glad he did. He was proud of his stint in the Merchant Navy. I told him about the poem and he wrote it out to keep.

    Reply
  10. cheethamlib

    I’m glad to be reminded that Liverpool was the centre of operations for the Battle of the Atlantic . What a terrifying experience for those brave Merchant Navy sailors, sometimes it’s hard to visualise those times, that is why memorials and anniversaries are important. Such a good photographic record of this commemeration.
    .

    Reply

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