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Nautilus officials represent Merchant Navy members at BoA80 commemorations

23 May 2023

Nautilus will be represented at several key events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic (BoA) over the final May bank holiday weekend.

The bravery and resilience of Merchant Navy crew during the most decisive and longest-fought battle of the Second World War will be commemorated in twinned events in Liverpool and Hull from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 May 2023.

Nautilus executive officer Martyn Gray will attend a commemorative BoA80 dinner on Friday 26 May. Also, that day Nautilus Welfare Fund's director of welfare and care Andrew Jones will represent 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.

Guest of honour at the memorial launch will be Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, who is patron of the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial charity. Princess Anne will formally unveil 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 will give a blessing and the service will conclude 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 being 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 will also be launched on the shores of the River Mersey at Woodside.

Mr Jones and Mr Gray will also visit a military village set up for the commemorations on the Mersey waterfront on Saturday 27 May, and in the evening, they will attend His Majesty's Royal Marines Band at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

Over the holiday weekend the city of Liverpool will host a series of other family friendly BoA-themed events. In Hull, the commemorations will also be 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. Mr Jones will represent Nautilus at the Pier Head service and a March for the Medals afterwards. BoA veterans will then take the salute from a dais on Princes Parade in Liverpool during a flypast.

The Union's women's lead Rachel Lynch will attend 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 will be held onboard the vessel at Canning Dock in Liverpool at 14:30 Saturday 27 May.  Nautilus Mariners' Park members are 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 will visit members onboard Cunard Line vessel Queen Victoria which is joining further BoA commemorations during a day call at Liverpool's Cruise Terminal. A public Cunard Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving will be held at St Nicks at 11:00 on Saturday 3 June 2023.  During the service, a tribute will be 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 will conclude 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.


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