Battle of the Atlantic 80th anniversary events led by LJMU

This month Liverpool will play host to a swathe of commemorative events marking its links with WWII’s Battle of the Atlantic, 80 years on.

LJMU’s staff and students across its Drama, History and Maritime programmes will play a role in marking this milestone anniversary and have spent the past four months working closely with the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Charity and the Western Approaches Museum to tell the untold stories of those involved in the events of 1943.

One-day History conference: Saturday 20 May

As part of the city’s programme of events, the Centre for Port and Maritime History is hosting a one-day conference on Saturday 20 May from 9.30am to 6pm, in association with the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Charity.

Organised by Dr David Clampin, subject leader for History at LJMU, speakers from academia will be joined by serving officers of the Royal Navy for the event and will consider the legacies of that theatre of war with a particular focus on intelligence and anti-submarine warfare.

The conference will be held at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool, L3 4AQ.

Speakers include Captain Sean Ryan (The Maritime Warfare Centre); Dr Jayne Friend (Portsmouth); Dr David Kohnen (Naval War College, USA); Dr Sarah-Louise Miller (Oxford); Dr James W E Smith (KCL); and Rear Admiral James Parkin CBE.

Full papers and registration can be found on Eventbrite.

Drama performances: Wednesday 24 to Friday 26 May

Drama students from Liverpool Screen School have, in collaboration with History academics and students from the School of Humanities and Social Science, produced an original theatre show to be performed as part of the city’s commemorative programme of events. The production is being overseen by Dr Ros Merkin, who is a Reader in Drama at LJMU and is directing the show.

The three free performances will take place on Wednesday 24, Thursday 25 and Friday 26 May at 7.30pm at the John Foster Drama Studio, 22 Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BY. Tickets can be reserved via Eventbrite.

Written by the students, Blowing a Raspberry at Hitler: A story of WATU, the WRNS and the War at Sea, is based in part on Simon Parkin’s book A Game of Birds and Wolves. The play tells the story of how victory was ultimately sealed in the Battle of the Atlantic, with military personnel in Liverpool working on intelligence reports, battle reports, planning, directing daily combat, and mapping out the strategy of the war at sea.

The adaptation for stage has also been aided with research conducted by an LJMU undergraduate History student, and a PhD researcher from the University of Portsmouth who travelled to Liverpool to talk to the students about life aboard a Royal Navy destroyer and transatlantic convoys.

The production was initially showcased in January with students using feedback and lessons learnt to rework the piece for the commemorations this month.

Commemorative Maritime Dinner: Friday 26 May

Staff, students and alumni of the School of Engineering’s Logistics, Offshore and Marine Research Institute (LOOM) will host invited guests at a commemorative dinner on Friday 26 May, including music from The Band of HM Royal Marines, an address from the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key KCB CBE and contributions from Battle of the Atlantic veterans.

The invited students and alumni are from a range of commonwealth countries and have been selected to represent LJMU due to their high-quality research undertaken into how the maritime industry will navigate the challenges of transitioning to digitisation, and environmental sustainability, by 2050. They have also been selected as they are all serving, or former, merchant seafarers.

Guests of LJMU at this high-profile event will include representation from Maritime UK, the UK’s umbrella trade body representing the UK’s marine and maritime industries. Academic staff in attendance from the Faculty of Engineering and Technology will include Dr Robyn Pyne, Principal Lecturer in Logistics and Maritime Management, Dr Christos Kontovas, Reader in Sustainable Maritime Transport, Anna Kaparaki, Lecturer in Maritime Law and Senior Maritime Solicitor, Dr Dimitrios Paraskevadakis, Senior Lecturer in Maritime Logistics and Chairman Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics NW Branch, and Mike Stringfellow, Lecturer in Nautical Science. 

Liverpool and the Battle of the Atlantic

May 1943 marked the turning point of the longest and most complex battle of the Second World War, with Germany conceding defeat at sea. Liverpool played a key role throughout the battle with the headquarters of Western Approaches Command based in the city.

Liverpool has therefore become the focal point for remembering the battle down the decades and LJMU will mark the 80th anniversary alongside events for its own bicentenary throughout 2023.

LJMU 200 years of history and heritage – looking back and navigating the future

LJMU has its own unique ties with the maritime history of Liverpool. In 1852 it opened its Nautical School and College, reflecting Liverpool’s status in the 19th century as one of the world’s leading ports.

Since then, LJMU has developed its education and research offer dedicated to the maritime sector, through specialised courses offered at the Faculty of Engineering and Technology, which also houses the LJMU Maritime Centre, connecting industry regionally and internationally to plug future skills gaps.

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