Nautilus was represented at several key events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic (BoA).
The bravery and resilience of Merchant Navy crew during the most decisive and longest-fought battle of the Second World War was commemorated in twinned events in Liverpool and Hull from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 May 2023.
Nautilus executive officer Martyn Gray attended a commemorative BoA80 dinner on Friday 26 May. Also, that day Nautilus Welfare Fund's director of welfare and care Andrew Jones represented the Union at a royal unveiling of a new national memorial and Garden of Reflection for the Battle of the Atlantic at Our Lady and St Nicholas’s Church (St Nick’s) in Pier Head.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, who is patron of the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial charity formally unveiled the memorial after meeting a selection of BoA veterans in the Church's Maritime Chapel, along with senior Merchant Navy and Royal Navy representatives. After the unveiling, the Bishop of Liverpool gave a blessing and the service concluded with a much anticipated spectacular flypast by historic aircraft, including Swordfish, Poseidon, and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The memorial is one of two new memorials which was unveiled during the weekend to those who were lost in the BoA: as well as the Pier Head BoA memorial, a light installation called Atlantic Lights was launched on the shores of the River Mersey at Woodside.
Mr Jones and Mr Gray also visited a military village set up for the commemorations on the Mersey waterfront on Saturday 27 May, and in the evening, they attended His Majesty's Royal Marines Band at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
Over the holiday weekend the city of Liverpool hosted a series of other family friendly BoA-themed events. In Hull, the commemorations were also marked with a Drumhead service on the river at the same time as one on Mann Island, Pier Head in Liverpool on Sunday 28 May. The Hull service was organised by Nautilus member Keith Thompson, a Merchant Navy Medal recipient and Falklands Merchant Navy veteran.Mr Jones represented Nautilus at the Pier Head service and a March for the Medals afterwards. BoA veterans then took the salute from a dais on Princes Parade in Liverpool during a flypast.
The Union's women's lead Rachel Lynch attended a talk by long-time Nautilus member David McNamee who is also skipper of restored former art deco steamship SS Daniel Adamson. The vessel had a role at the Manchester Ship Canal during the Battle of the Atlantic of towing into port the vessels that had safely crossed the Atlantic destined for Manchester. Mr McNamee's talk was held onboard the vessel at Canning Dock in Liverpool at 14:30 Saturday 27 May. Nautilus Mariners' Park members were also invited onboard the vessel for a different talk by historian David Hearn about the role of the MN during the BoA at 14:30 on Friday 26 May.
A week later Ms Lynch and Nautilus head of organising Garry Elliott planned to visit members on Cunard Line vessel Queen Victoria which joined further BoA commemorations during a day call at Liverpool's Cruise Terminal. A public Cunard Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving was held at St Nicks at Saturday 3 June 2023. During the service, a tribute was placed at Cunard's company memorial inside the church to honour the sacrifices of hundreds of officers and crew onboard dozens of Cunard ships who joined perilous transatlantic convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic.
Battle of the Atlantic veterans who responded to a call in 2022 to come forward for interviews have had their experiences of the war recorded in podcasts which will be uploaded on the Company of Makers website during the event.
Commemorations concluded in Liverpool on Sunday 28 May, with attending merchant and naval vessels leading a convoy down the river Mersey, while a beat retreat is performed at Pier Head.
- find out more on the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial charity website
- visit our book review section for a selection of relevant reads
Cunard Line flagship RMS Queen Mary 2 also marked the Battle of the Atlantic 80th anniversary with a commemoration service onboard mid-Atlantic enroute from New York to Southampton on Monday 29 May, a date that coincided with the US Memorial Day.
Guests and members of the ship's company gathered on the aft decks to attend a service conducted by Captain Aseem Hashmi,MNM, and a minutes silence was then observed with the Red Ensign at half mast followed by the singing of the US and British national anthems.
Six US WW2 veterans aged between 98-103 were also onboard, many of whom sailed on the original Queen Mary as part of the D-day landing force during the Battle of the Atlantic.
Two veterans Steven Melnikoff (103) and Donald Cobb (98) committed a wreath to the ocean in memory of all sailors lost in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Captain Hashmi also recited the names of the 7 Cunard ships lost in the Battle of the Atlantic.
The veterans were on the cruise as part of The Greatest Generations Foundation which supports combat veterans to emotional closure by sponsoring their return to former battlegrounds, cemeteries, and memorials where they served.
Battle of the Atlantic 80th anniversary
The bravery and resilience of Merchant Navy seafarers will be honoured in May 2023 during a weekend of UK events planned for the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.
'Frank's bench': celebrating the life of a Mariners' Park veteran
A book dedicated to the memory of a Merchant Navy prisoner of war and former Mariners' Park Estate resident Frank Walker has been published by another current Park resident Captain Peter Thomson.