£750k appeal to mark Battle of the Atlantic’s 80th anniversary

A light show casting the names of ships and men from the Battle of the Atlantic on to a Liverpool landmark will be the centrepoint of permanent 80th anniversary commemorations.

A light show casting the names of ships and men from the Battle of the Atlantic on to a Liverpool landmark will be the centrepoint of permanent 80th anniversary memorials.

Organisers are hoping to raise £750,000 to create four lasting reminders of the sacrifices made between 1939 and 1945 to keep Britain’s sea lanes open and ultimately guarantee the defeat of Nazi Germany.

As headquarters of Western Approaches Command for most of World War 2, as well as being one of the UK’s principal ports, Liverpool has become the focal point for remembering the battle down the decades.

The former Western Approaches HQ has long been a museum, legendary U-boat killer Captain ‘Johnnie’ Walker is immortalised in statue form and the city’s parish church, St Nicholas’, celebrates and commemorates Liverpool’s association with the sea and the sacrifices it has demanded.

For the 80th anniversary in May 2023, the original plan was to unveil the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial at Pier Head.

In view of the pandemic and the huge pressure on personal and public finances, the charity has scaled down its initial £2.5m memorial.

We particularly want to focus on how the Battle of the Atlantic was a great British and allied success story. We are a maritime nation and perhaps this battle was our greatest achievement.

Commodore Gary Doyle

Instead, four smaller-scale projects are planned – and hopefully completed – by May 2023.

  • ‘Atlantic lights’ – a permanent light show each evening with the names of seafarers and ships involved beamed in Morse code on to the façade of Liverpool’s iconic Exchange Flags office block complex, where Western Approaches Command was located from 1941-1945.
  • A garden of remembrance at St Nicholas’ Church
  • A heritage trail/audio tour across Merseyside taking in some of the key sites in the battle.
  • A growing partnership with the Western Approaches Museum to preserve its unique collection and support educational projects.

Commodore Gary Doyle, who was the Royal Navy’s regional commander in the North West and is now heading the memorial appeal, said the scaled-down plans were fitting given the austere circumstances – and he hoped would collectively “commemorate, educate and inspire”.

He continued: “We feel we have to innovate and adapt to this new more challenging economic climate and we think the new concept is more realistic.

“We particularly want to focus on how the Battle of the Atlantic was a great British and allied success story. We are a maritime nation and perhaps this battle was – with the support of many people from other nations – our greatest achievement. Without it we could not have fed or armed ourselves and there would have been no D-Day, no Bomber Command raids, no trans-Atlantic supplies to the East­ern Front or a North African campaign.”

At least 111,000 sailors and military personnel from around the globe died in the six-year battle, including 26,500 British merchant and 23,000 Royal Navy sailors.

Some 3,500 merchantmen and 175 warships - 15 million tons of allied shipping in all - was lost, while three in every four U-boats was sunk.

The battle reached its peak between March and May 1943. In the final month, the Germans recalled their U-boats from the Atlantic after they suffered unsustainable losses: 43 boats sunk, 37 damaged.

They continued to menace shipping until the war’s end, but never seriously threatened Britain’s supply lines again.

For more information about the memorial, sponsorship packages and to make a donation visit: https://battleoftheatlantic.org/ or email here.