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

Churchill

Background

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:  more than 2,000 merchant ships were sunk; over 30,000 merchant seamen and 10,000 allied naval personnel lost their lives; and 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 United Kingdom unlike other major campaigns of World War 2.  Thus, a project has been set up to create an appropriate memorial and fill that gap. As the number of surviving veterans of that generation dwindle, it is important that we create a reminder in perpetuity of the losses and hard learned lessons of that campaign and the Second World War in general.  We want the memorial to be a defining symbol of remembrance that recognises those personal sacrifices and serves as a reminder of the high cost and incalculable value of peace.

The concept of a memorial to the Battle of the Atlantic is not new because an earlier project sought to purchase HMS Whimbrel, a surviving Battle of the Atlantic escort vessel which had been sold to Egypt in 1949. The plan had been to repatriate the vessel to the United Kingdom and fit her out as a living memorial to the campaign berthed in Liverpool.  Sadly, after many years of negotiation, the Egyptians would still not agree a price so that project was wound up in 2015. In its place, a new project emerged under the Chairmanship of Vice Admiral Mike Gretton whose father, Commander Peter Gretton (later Vice Admiral Sir Peter Gretton) was a renowned convoy escort commander and now succeeded by Gary Doyle a former Royal Navy Commodore and now the Group Harbour Master of Peel Ports.

Concept

The concept of this project is to establish a land-based memorial in the vicinity of the Pier Head at Liverpool.  In addition to commemorating the Battle of the Atlantic and all its participants on land sea and in the air, this memorial will have an important 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 which already has a gallery specifically dedicated to the Battle of the Atlantic. With further enhancement, the Museum will be developed into an academic centre where institutions, researchers and interested parties can visit to access information and learn more about the Battle. 

It is intended that this will be a truly international memorial and appropriate recognition of participants will include:

  • The British and Allied Merchant Navies noting that seafarers from all over the world served in these ships.
  • The British Armed Forces – Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the Army and the Royal Air Force.
  • Civilian support ashore.
  • Allied Armed Forces including Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Poland, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • Former adversaries –  Germany, Italy.

The bravery and dedication of all 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. 

Management

The Project is registered as a charity with the Charity Commission and is supported by a Board of Trustees. The Board is chaired by Mr Gary Doyle (Group Harbour Master Peel Ports) supported by 8 other Trustees from across the business world.

Progress to date

More information coming soon.

Finances

More information coming soon.

Way forward

More information coming soon.

Donors to date

Bathgate Charitable Trust
Lord Liverpool
Britannia’s Gold Ltd
Maritime Air Trust
Clive & Sylvia Richards Trust
Trinity House
Gosling Foundation
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