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Battle of the Atlantic 80th anniversary weekend in Liverpool

Liverpool’s waterfront will be the focus for Battle of the Atlantic 80th anniversary commemorations this weekend.

Warships will sail into the Mersey to take part in the major event which remembers the longest battle of the Second World War – which was waged from secret headquarters under Liverpool’s streets.

A 1940s military-themed village will spring up at the Pier Head on May 27-28 and some ships will be open for visitors over the weekend.

The village will feature equipment and a host of free family activities from the Royal Navy, Army, and RAF including Typhoon simulator, a Royal Navy VR speedboat simulator, climbing walls, bungee runs, a Spitfire replica, tanks, helicopters, and vintage military vehicles.

Tomorrow evening, May 26, Atlantic Lights - a poignant light show beaming the names of ships and sailors into the skies – will be switched on at Woodside for the first time. And weather permitting, both the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and vintage Fleet Air Arm Swordfish and Seafire aircraft will stage flypasts on all three days of the event.

Above: The map room at Western Approaches. Top: A warship sails past the Johnnie Walker statue on the Pier Head.

Battle of the Atlantic displays and special family activities will be open at the Western Approaches Museum in Rumford Street and the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

The weekend’s events also include a programme of theatre, music and dance, including a Battle of the Atlantic--themed variety show – Blowing a Raspberry at Hitler - written and performed by students of Liverpool John Moores University which will take place from May 24-26 at the John Foster Drama Studio in Hope Street. Free tickets HERE

Meanwhile an outdoor stage at the Pier Head will host performances from 1940s and vintage style musicians and performers including The Soldiers of Swing, The Lahdidah’s, The Swing Cats, Mersey Swing, Joanne Dennis and Hattie Bee. Sea Shanty band The Jack Tars will also perform.

Visitors to the waterfront will also be able to enjoy performances from 4th Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, the Royal Danish Navy band, as well as local cadet bands, drill and PT displays.

Above: HMS Defender will be open to visitors over the weekend.

Over in Canning Dock, Art Deco steamer The Danny Adamson will open its saloon to host shanty performances by Gerry Ffrench, Yesterday’s Men and the Port Sunlight Seadogs, as well as Battle of the Atlantic talks by historian David Hearn and seafarer David McNamee.

And the Philharmonic Hall is the venue for a special commemorative concert on Saturday, May 27 featuring His Majesty’s Royal Marines Band.

The formal commemorations include a private service at St Nicholas’ Church tomorrow attended by the Princess Royal who will then unveil a new Battle of the Atlantic memorial and garden of reflection in the church grounds.

On Sunday, May 28 there will be a Drumhead service of thanksgiving at noon at the Pier Head followed at 1.30pm by a March for the Medals from Exchange Flags to Princes Parade where a group of Battle of the Atlantic veterans, now all in their 90s, will take the salute from the marching troops.

The weekend will conclude at 5pm on May 28 when the visiting ships will sail down the river escorted by a convoy from the Mersey’s maritime community and a Beat Retreat played by His Majesty’s Royal Marines Band at the Pier Head.

Above: March of Medals

Gary Doyle, chairman of the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Charity, said: “No city is more connected with the Battle of the Atlantic than Liverpool, and there can be no more fitting a setting for these important 80th anniversary commemorations.

“The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest and most strategically important battle of the Second World War. If the allies had lost the fight, there’s little doubt that we would have lost the war.

“The death toll was – and still is – staggering. Tens of thousands of Merchant Navy, Royal Navy, and Allied Naval seamen and thousands of RAF and allied aviators lost their lives in order to keep our supply lanes open and our families fed.

“This 80th commemoration is extra-special because we will be joined by some of our Battle of the Atlantic veterans at events during the weekend, and they are without doubt the focus of the whole event.

“It is perhaps the last major commemorative opportunity we will have to come together to say thank you to those remarkable men and women, and to celebrate their great effort and achievement, in the pleasure of their company. We hope that the whole of Merseyside will get behind what we are doing and turn out to join us.”

Battle of the Atlantic 80th anniversary commemorations take place from May 26-28. More HERE


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