THE INTERNATIONAL MEMORIAL FOR THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939-45
“The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land at sea or in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome.”—Winston Churchill
The Battle of the Atlantic was the most important campaign of World War II, as without success other campaigns would have not been possible – particularly the landings in Europe in June 1944. It was the longest continuous campaign of the war, lasting from the declaration of war in 1939 until Victory in Europe in May 1945.
The toll was high on all sides: over 3,000 ships were sunk. 22,000 merchant sailors and 10,000 naval personnel lost their lives. 70% of German submariners did not return to their home bases.
Despite its significance, the Battle of the Atlantic does not have an overall memorial in the UK, so the purpose of this project is to fill that gap. As the veterans of that generation leave us, it is important that we create a reminder of the losses and the lessons of that Battle and the war. We want the memorial to be a remembrance that recognises those sacrifices, and as a reminder of the high cost and incalculable value of peace.
In addition to commemorating the Battle and all of its participants and contributors, the Memorial will have an educational role, informing the public – particularly young people – about the Battle of the Atlantic and its vital significance. This will be achieved by working closely with the nearby Merseyside Maritime Museum that has a gallery specifically for the Battle of the Atlantic, and It will become an academic centre where institutions, researchers and interested parties can go to access and learn more about the Battle.
Merchant Navy and Armed Forces participation included:
- The British and Allied Merchant Navies. Seafarers from all over the world, especially India and China, served in these ships.
- The British Armed Forces. Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the Army and the Royal Air Force
- Allied Armed Forces. Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Poland, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Soviet Union and the United States participated.
- Former adversaries. Germany, Italy.
The bravery and dedication of all of these peoples and nations will be commemorated in the city which was at the heart of the effort in the UK – Liverpool. The command headquarters of the campaign was in Liverpool, and many of the warships and merchant vessels were based there.
Progress to date
The Project has been registered as a charity with the Charity Commission and is supported by a Board of Trustees chaired by Vice Admiral Mike Gretton CB CVO. A site for the memorial has been approved between the western side of the Museum of Liverpool and the River Mersey. It has the advantage of being close to the Pier Head, the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Albert Dock.
The area can be seen on Google Maps using the following link:
After a tender process in June 2017, architects Donald Insall Associates, with offices in London and Chester, have been selected to complete the memorial.
Work to develop creative ideas that will meet the commemorative and educational concept of the Battle of Atlantic memorial is well underway and these ideas will include the integration of the existing individual memorial plaques at the Pier Head including the statue of the Captain Johnnie Walker RN.
A media launch of the project was held at the Pier Head on 8 January 2018, for which Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said:
“The Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War is perhaps the most gruelling and important campaign our nation has ever fought, and even today the security of the Atlantic remains critical to our defence and prosperity. We must never forget the service and sacrifice of those seafarers who overcame both the enemy and the weather to keep our island fed and fuelled throughout the War, and we must continue to learn from their hard-won experience. There is no more fitting venue for a national memorial to this campaign than Liverpool; and this wonderful design rightly gives the Merchant Navy the prominence it deserves, while also capturing the wider British and allied armed forces contribution. I wish the campaign every success.”
The initial costing estimate for this project is in the order of £2.5M. To meet this, a two-stage fundraising programme is required: firstly, pump-priming of between £50K and £100K has been completed to reimburse the architects’ and others’ initial work, and to facilitate the employment of a professional fundraiser – a list of donors to date is below; and secondly, the main fundraising campaign. The long term plan is of an unveiling date in 2020.
Donors to date
Bathgate Charitable Trust
Britannia’s Gold Ltd
Maritime Air Trust
Clive & Sylvia Richards Trust
Worshipful Company of Fuellers
Honourable Company of Air Pilots
Charles Crewdson Esq.
Manchester Naval Officers’ Association
Richard Lovegrove Esq.
The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity
The Sea Urchins