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.
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.
So I got the bus down to the Pier Head.
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.
In all, 90,000 died keeping the sea lanes open. And we remember all of those who died during the Battle. Some very personally.And now, meet Lewis Trinder. Volunteered 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.
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.’
Apparently this is ‘the final national anniversary commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic.’ If so, we’ll never forget.
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…
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.”
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.
The modern hotels and offices are inside the old dock wall.
Back at the Pier Head.
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.
And the goslings?
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.”