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Memorial For Atlantic Heroes

Discussion in 'Britain at Sea!' started by Kelly War44, May 27, 2007.

  1. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    IT was the longest and hardest won campaign of the Second World War. Now, more than 60 years after the end of bloody Battle of the Atlantic, the Royal Navy sailors who took part will finally get a lasting memorial in the shape of a restored convoy escort, HMS Whimbrel. Next year the battered old warship is due to return home to a prime berth, in front of Liverpool's Liver Building, where she will become a potent symbol of the heroism and sacrifices made in the six-year battle to keep open Britain's wartime lifeline to North America. "The ship will be the nation's memorial to all who have no grave but the sea," says John Livingston, who joined the Royal Navy after the war and helped set up the new memorial. The Battle of the Atlantic claimed the lives of 83,000 Allied sailors (naval and civilian) and airmen, and 28,000 German sailors. It was the campaign that Prime Minister Winston Churchill most feared losing, and it's not hard to see why. In 1942 alone the Allies lost more than 1,660 ships, mostly merchant vessels. Britain was in danger of being starved into submission by packs of German U-boats prowling the Atlantic and blocking the ships carrying tons of food and raw materials bound for the UK. Many convoys were decimated, including SC-7, a group of 35 merchant ships which sailed from Nova Scotia for Liverpool in October 1940, losing 20 vessels to U-boat attacks. The Battle of the Atlantic hung in the balance until March 1943 by which time nearly 4,500 merchant ships had been sunk. The German Navy's U-boats and surface raiders were pitted against Allied convoys from Britain, the United States and Canada, later aided by US aircraft. The German U-boats were later joined by Italian submarines in June 1940. Winston Churchill once wrote that "the only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril". If Germany had managed to prevent merchant ships from carrying food, raw materials, troops and their equipment from North America to Britain the outcome of the Second World War could have been very different. With Britain starved into submission, and our army fighting without vital US-built tanks and vehicles, we could have been crushed by the Nazis. But gradually, thanks to the cracking of Germany's Enigma code, the use of long-range bombers and the development of aggressive anti-submarine tactics, the tide finally turned in Britain's favour. But the brave sailors who kept the sea lanes to the US and Canada open have long been in danger of being forgotten. Unlike the fighter pilots who took to the skies in sleek Spitfires, or the troops who landed in Normandy on D-Day, their war was an unrelenting and largely unreported campaign where the fearsome weather was almost as deadly an enemy as the U-boats. Now HMS Whimbrel, one of the last remaining wartime escorts from the Battle of the Atlantic, will help remind the nation just how much it owes the sailors who paid such a high price to help ensure Allied victory. The 1,200-ton Clyde-built sloop, armed with six four-inch guns for the defence of merchant convoys, was launched in August 1942 and commissioned five months later. She sailed on the Atlantic and Russian convoy routes, and played a supporting role at the Normandy landings in 1944 before being transferred to the Pacific for the final months of the war against Japan in 1945. After the war she was sold to the Egyptian Navy, which later decided to dispose of it. When a handful of naval veterans heard she was for sale they set up a charity, The HMS Whimbrel Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Project, to investigate whether the ship, which John Livingstone calls "a virtual time capsule", could be brought back home as a wartime memorial. Project manager Chris Pile, a former Royal Navy captain with more than 30 years naval service, says: "After a preliminary survey in Alexandria we are negotiating with the Egyptian authorities the exact cost of acquiring the ship and completing any essential work that needs to be undertaken before she can be moved." Once negotiations and essential repairs are complete, the "tired old lady", as Pile calls her, will be transported back to Britain on a heavy lift ship or floating barge. Back in Britain the ship will be restored so that she will become not just a memorial, but a lesson to today's generation of what life was like for sailors in the Battle of the Atlantic. The cost of buying the Whimbrel, bringing her to Britain, restoring and preparing her for visitors will be around £4million. If all goes according to plan she will open to the public in the summer of 2008. The project has attracted some high-profile supporters, including its patron, the Duke of Westminster, who has made a significant six-figure donation. It is hoped that the rest of the money will be raised following the launch of a public appeal this summer. Speed is of the essence though, because while several thousand Battle of the Atlantic veterans survive - many of whom will witness the unveiling of the memorial next year - the march of time is steadily depleting their numbers. Former naval chief Vice Admiral Mike Gretton, whose father commanded an escort group in the Battle of the Atlantic, says: "It might not have been the most glamorous of campaigns but it was vital to Britain's survival. If we'd lost the Battle of the Atlantic the war would have been over. "That's why it's so important that the sacrifices of all those who took part are finally recognised. In HMS Whimbrel they will have a fitting memorial."

    6-YEAR BATTLE

    1939

    SEPTEMBER 3 - Britain declares war. U-boat sinks British liner SS Athenia.
    SEPTEMBER 17 - Aircraft carrier HMS Courageous sunk.

    1940

    JUNE 22 - Fall of France gives U-boats Atlantic bases for the first time.
    JULY - 217 merchant ships sunk.
    OCTOBER 18-19 - Six U-boats sink 36 Allied ships in two convoys.

    1941

    MAY 24 - HMS Hood sunk by battleship Bismarck, which is also sunk.
    JUNE - German Dolphin code cracked, allowing rapid and regular access to U-boat signal traffic in the Atlantic.

    1942

    JANUARY-MARCH - More than 200 Allied ships sunk off the east coast of the US, mostly oil tankers.
    OCTOBER 30 - HMS Petard captures the U-559 in the Mediterranean.
    1943

    MARCH 10-16 - U-boats sink 21 Allied ships.
    MAY 24 - Admiral Karl Doenitz orders all U-boats out of North Atlantic after loss of 56 in a month.

    1944

    NOVEMBER - RAF sinks battleship Tirpitz in a fjord near Tromso, Norway.

    1945

    FEBRUARY 24 - U-boats sink eight ships and two destroyers from an Allied convoy bound for Murmansk.
    MAY 4 - Doenitz orders all U-boats to cease offensive operations.

    By York Membery 26/05/2007 The Mirror
     
  2. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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  3. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    May i add, a well deserved medal that should have been awarded a long time ago... :thumb:

    Great find Kelly. :fag:
     
  5. Jamie 111

    Jamie 111 New Member

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    Heros

    Great find mate. Nice thread.

    These heroes don't get a lot of general recognition do they?

    Hollywood love of the the "Saving Private Ryan" type of movies are partly to blame.
    Notice in that movie ( and others ) that they never once mention how all the soldiers ( including Ryan) got to Europe from America!

    The U.S. army transported its personnel in ships! Protected by Naval and air forces. Other-wise the saving of Private Ryan might never have happened.

    The combined Allied Naval efforts are largely ignored by the movie makers. Sad isn't it?
     

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