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
As Churchill declared, 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. While Churchill coined the phrase “Battle of the Atlantic”, it was actually the longest continuous campaign of the war, lasting from the declaration of war in 1939 until Victory in Europe in May 1945. For the Allies the goal was simple: to bring sufficient people and material across the Atlantic to sustain Britain and to enable the opening of the Western Front through Operation Overlord (D-Day). For the adversaries, it was a question of opposing that Allied purpose.
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 – to commemorate those who perished, but also those that survived but often carry the scars. As the veterans of that generation leave us, it is important that we create a reminder of the suffering 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.
The bravery and dedication of all of these peoples and nations will be commemorated in the city of Liverpool, which was at the heart of the effort in the UK. The command headquarters of the campaign (“Western Approaches”) was in Liverpool, and many of the warships and merchant vessels were based there.
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: It will become an academic centre where institutions, researchers and interested parties can go to access and learn more about the Battle. We are also linked to the Western Approaches Museum.
The memorial will commemorate Merchant Navy and Armed Forces participants 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, the Soviet Union and the United States participated.
- Former adversaries. Germany, Italy.
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.
Architects Donald Insall Associates and sculptor Paul Day, have been selected to complete the memorial. Impressive examples of their previous work include the Battle of Britain Monument on the Embankment in London and the Iraq and Afghanistan memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens, also in London. Creative ideas that will meet the commemorative and educational concept of the Battle of Atlantic memorial have been devised, 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.
Illustrations of the current state of the design are shown here.
Following the public and media launch in Liverpool in January 2018, the long term plan is of an unveiling date in 2019.
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 sculptor’s initial work and facilitate the employment of a professional fundraiser – a list of donors to date is below; and secondly, the main fundraising campaign.
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