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Our Role in the Battle of the Atlantic

26/05/2023 | John Meadowcroft

This weekend is the 80th anniversary of a crucial turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic – Black May, where fewer allied ships were sunk than the German U-Boot Waffe during World War II.

It’s a pivotal period of history that we helped shape, right here on the Left Bank. It’s why the event is being commemorated along our riverfront, and it’s why we recommend you really don’t miss it.

Events will be held from today to Sunday 28 May to mark the anniversary. The Mersey will be welcoming some pretty important visitors – HMS Defender has already navigated her way over to Liverpool’s pier head, and she’ll be joined by the French Destroyer FS Bretagne and Trinity House Vessel Patricia.

The USS Ramage will also be coming here over the weekend. They’ll all be joined by Her Royal Highness, Princess Royal who’s scheduled to open a new Battle of the Atlantic memorial and garden of reflection at The Church of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas.

History-defining moments like Black May couldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the mighty Cammell Laird shipyard. It was here where a 12,000-strong workforce produced a ship every 21 days during the Second World War - 106 naval vessels in total with repairs carried out on 2,000 merchant vessels and 120 warships.

A series of Battle of the Atlantic-themed tours are being held at Cammell Laird, with visitors able to tour the yard and see the areas so crucial to the war effort. It’s also a chance to see how the shipyard has modernised over the years, and how shipbuilding itself has evolved over the best part of a century.

If you visit on Saturday 27 May you’ll also be able to board vintage buses that have been kindly donated by Wirral Transport Museum. Exclusive commentary has also been created for the bus rides, which will help paint a picture of the extreme round-the-clock pressures taking place at the time.

Keep your eyes on the skies too over the weekend to see a Lancaster bomber, Spitfire and Hurricane flying over the Mersey alongside Seafire and Swordfish displays. And, if you’re over the water this bank holiday weekend, there are a lot of creative events to commemorate the battle including theatre shows, music and dance performances and more.

(Incidentally, today’s the last chance to see ‘Blowing a Raspberry at Hitler’ at the John Foster Drama Studio on Hope Street, which we think is well worth your time.)

Cammell Laird Shipyard

Campbeltown Road, Birkenhead, CH41 9BP


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