The campaign to build a £2.5m memorial to the Battle of the Atlantic on Liverpool’s iconic waterfront is planning an awareness raising tour of America after receiving the backing of the British Ambassador to the USA Sir Kim Darroch.
The Battle of the Atlantic Memorial (BOAM) campaign wrote to Sir Kim asking for his support and in response the Ambassador has suggested the campaign holds events at the British Embassy in Washington as well as consulates including Chicago, New York, Boston and Atlanta.
Sir Kim is further offering the resources of the British Naval Attache to the United States Commodore Martin Connell and his team to help the campaign engage with the U.S Navy and Coastguard who were integral to winning the Battle of the Atlantic.
Sir Kim said:
“Keeping the North Atlantic open to British and American shipping is as important now as it was 75 years ago at the height of the Second World War. At that time, the North Atlantic shipping channels were a vital lifeline, without which the war could not have been won. So it is entirely fitting that a campaign should have been launched to raise the funds to build a UK memorial to the brave and selfless men and women who were wounded or sacrificed their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic. I am delighted that the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Fund are visiting the US to promote this worthy cause.”
BOAM chairman Vice-Admiral Mike Gretton, whose father Vice-Admiral Sir Peter Gretton served during the battle as an Atlantic Escort Group commander, said the campaign is planning to stage the fundraising tour of America in the autumn.
“This is a massive step forward for our campaign to build a bridge with the United States and we are very grateful to Sir Kim and his team for offering to support us,” he said. “Despite the immense significance of the Battle of the Atlantic (see notes to editors), and the 100,000 lives lost, it does not have a dedicated national memorial in Britain. The purpose of our campaign is to fill that gap so future generations can remember the true horror and sacrifice of the battle. Moreover, we aim to recognise the efforts of all the allied nations who took part in the memorial. The United States played a critical role in winning the battle with the production of Liberty merchant ships and the operations of the US Navy and its Hunter Killer Task Groups (see notes to editors). There is no greater example of Britain and America working together than the Battle of the Atlantic, when we fought for our shared values and way of life against the tyranny and evil of Nazi Germany.”
Vice-Admiral Gretton said he hopes BOAM’s American tour will see long term ‘twinning’ and cooperation built with American institutions including the US Navy, the World War Two memorial in Washington and the Battle of the Atlantic exhibition at the Science and Industry museum in Chicago.
British Naval Attache to the United States Commodore Martin Connell said:
“I am very proud to support this long overdue memorial dedicated to those who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Atlantic is as important a strategic bridge now as it was then. Some 75 years on we work extremely closely with our United States Navy colleagues on today’s maritime operations in the Atlantic, particularly those beneath the waves, but we do so knowing that it was the sacrifices of our respective nations’ forefathers who gave so much, alongside those of our Allies, to ensure the inextricable bond between our two continents remains as strong now as it did then”.
Vice-Admiral Gretton said the BOAM campaign is also engaging with all other allied nations who took part in the Battle of the Atlantic to involve them in the memorial.
For more information on the campaign, sponsorship packages and to make donations visit: www.battleoftheatlantic.org email: firstname.lastname@example.org call: 01243 545939 Twitter: @BattleAtlantic
Notes to editors
- Campaign background
The Battle of the Atlantic Memorial (BOAM), is a UK charity. It launched the campaign to build the memorial in January 2018 at a press conference in Liverpool attended by BOA veterans.
At the press conference the campaign unveiled a design by acclaimed sculptor Paul Day for 28 metre 15 ton monument in the shape of a merchant ship split in two. The memorial will incorporate the existing statue of U-Boat hunter Johnnie Walker. Paul Day’s works also include the Battle of Britain Monument and the Iraq-Afghanistan memorial, both in London.
The campaign is aiming to unveil the monument in 2019, the 80th Anniversary of the start of the battle and the beginning of World War Two.
The memorial will reflect the international nature of the battle recognising the efforts of British and Allied Merchant Navies and Armed Forces including the United States, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Poland, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. In addition, the monument will also commemorate the thousands of seafarers from around the world who served in Allied Armed Forces and Merchant Navies including India and China.
The memorial will work closely with Merseyside Maritime Museum and National Museums Liverpool as a whole to highlight the project and develop educational projects reinforcing just how fundamental the Battle of the Atlantic was to the war effort. The memorial will also be sited on National Museums Liverpool’s land, between the River Mersey and the Museum of Liverpool.
Sculptor Paul Day said the proposed BOA monument is set to be his largest to date.
“It’s a huge honour and privilege to be involved in this project,” he said. “The Battle of the Atlantic presents such a fertile, thrilling and challenging set of historic circumstances to work with. Despite the ravages of war Liverpool remains a breath-taking city and one of the greatest waterfront skylines in Europe. This sculpture must be able to complement a varied architectural landscape and balance while having a strong visual impact to honour the immense sacrifice of those who fought in the battle. The plan is scaled at around 28 metres across and four-and-a-half metres at the highest point. Each half of the two-piece structure is likely to weigh between 10 and 15 tons. They will be hollow with a stainless-steel armature and bronze cladding. Scale is obviously critical to the impact of a piece in a landscape, which in this case is dominated by Liverpool Museum and the large distances of space which separate one end of the old historic docks to the new dock. Liverpool Museum will be used as a backdrop to create a silhouette evoking the image of liberty ships and commercial maritime vessels. This is an important design feature reflecting the nature of the battle to forge a safe passage for our merchant vessels across the Atlantic. The dual sections will enable the public to walk through and interact with messages and scenes portrayed in friezes along the sides.”
- Battle of the Atlantic factfile
“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
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of World War Two. It began on September 3 1939 and lasted until VE Day May 8 in 1945, in total five years eight months and five days. The cost of the battle was extremely high for both sides. It is impossible to be sure how many died but an estimated 26,500 British merchant seamen were killed while the Royal Navy lost more than 23,000 seamen. The allied war dead of naval and merchant seaman is estimated at more than 20,000 from Canada, USA, India, China, Poland, Norway, Holland, Greece, Belgium, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. In total around 3,500 merchant ships were sunk and 15 million tons of allied shipping was lost. Many thousands of civilians were also caught in bombing raids at ports and shipyards on both sides of the Atlantic. In Liverpool, for example, the ‘May blitz’ of 1941 saw 1,746 Merseysiders killed and 1,154 injured in eight nights of bombing. Meanwhile, the U-Boat memorial near Kiel has the names of 28,000 crewmen who died, more than 60pc of those who served. Of the 859 U-boats 648 were lost, across all seas in which U-Boats operated. Statistics from Royal Navy Historical Branch and Battle of the Atlantic, Andrew Williams, BBC books.
The Battle of the Atlantic’s core was the Allied naval blockade of Germany, announced the day after the declaration of war, and Germany’s subsequent counter-blockade. It was at its height from mid-1940 through to the end of 1943. The Battle of the Atlantic pitted U-boats and other warships of the Kriegsmarine (German navy) and aircraft of the Luftwaffe (German air force) against the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, United States Navy and Allied merchant shipping. The convoys, coming mainly from North America and predominantly going to the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, were protected for the most part by the British and Canadian navies and air forces. These forces were aided by ships and aircraft of the United States beginning September 13, 1941. The Germans were joined by submarines of the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) after their Axis ally Italy entered the war on June 10, 1940.
As an island nation, the United Kingdom was highly dependent on imported goods. Britain required more than a million tons of imported material per week in order to be able to survive and fight. In essence, the Battle of the Atlantic was a tonnage war: the Allied struggle to supply Britain and the Axis attempt to stem the flow of merchant shipping that enabled Britain to keep fighting. From 1942 onwards, the Axis also sought to prevent the build-up of Allied supplies and equipment in the British Isles in preparation for the invasion of occupied Europe. The defeat of the U-boat threat was a pre-requisite for pushing back the Axis. The outcome of the campaign was a strategic victory for the Allies—the German blockade failed—but at great cost: 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships were sunk for the loss of hundreds of U-boats.
The name “Battle of the Atlantic” was coined by Winston Churchill in February 1941. It has been called the “longest, largest and most complex” naval battle in history. It involved thousands of ships in more than 100 convoy battles and perhaps 1,000 single-ship encounters, in a theatre covering millions of square miles of ocean. The situation changed constantly, with one side or the other gaining advantage, as participating countries surrendered, joined and even changed sides in the war, and as new weapons, tactics, counter-measures and equipment were developed by both sides. The Allies gradually gained the upper hand, overcoming German surface raiders by the end of 1942 and defeating the U-boats by mid-1943, though losses due to U-boats continued until war’s end. (Source Wikipedia)
The final victory in the Atlantic was assured by the American entry to the war. The USA was able to bring overwhelming military and industrial muscle to the campaign with formidable contributions from the US Navy and its Hunter Killer Task Groups. Furthermore, the rapid production of merchant ships in the USA, mainly Liberty ships, was a key factor in the balance between those sunk and new replacements. Canada too played a key role, by the end of the war it had more than 400 ships, almost half the North Atlantic escort force, an extraordinary contribution from a country that could only boast six warships in 1939. In total, 1,600 Merchant Navy personnel from Canada and Newfoundland were killed. one out of every seven Merchant Navy sailors who served was killed or wounded. The RCN and RCAF paid a high toll in the Battle of the Atlantic. Most of the 2,000 RCN officers and men who died during the war were killed during the Battle of the Atlantic, as were 752 members of the RCAF
In 2013 Battle of the Atlantic events were staged in Liverpool, Londonderry and London to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle. The Ministry of Defence made clear those events would be the final official commemoration of the BOA, hence the need for a permanent memorial.