Tens of thousands of people gathered along the River Mersey in Liverpool as part of a weekend of events commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Atlantic, including a spectacular flypast of Fleet Air Arm aircraft from RNAS Culdrose and Yeovilton.
A Service of remembrance attended by Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal and senior officers of the Royal Navy and other Maritime organisations, veterans and serving members of the armed forces was held in the City’s Anglican Cathedral. Afterwards the senior officers and invited guests moved on board HMS Bulwark – the Royal Navy’s flagship – to watch a spectacular flypast, led by an iconic hero of the Battle of the Atlantic.
Fleet Air Arm aircraft, representing both Royal Naval Air Stations at Culdrose and Yeovilton proudly formed up to be led by one of the last two operational Swordfish in Britain, Swordfish Mk.II LS326, of the Royal Navy Historic Flight.
One of the Sea Kings taking part from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose was from 771 Search and Rescue, Naval Air Squadron, flown by Lieutenants Ian King and Jonny Lynas. Flying in tight formation with the Swordfish and the other Fleet Air Arm aircraft was pretty special for them.
“It was a great honour to take part in this formation that saluted the dedication and bravery of the men who served during the War. It was a beautiful gin-clear blue sky, attracting a huge crowd at the Albert dock and Pier- head areas. Our flypast took us across the City from the massive Cathedral to the imposing `Liver-building’ overlooking the Mersey,” said Ian King.
771 NAS along with 814 NAS flying the Merlin HM 1 from RNAS Culdrose joined a Junglie Sea King from 848 NAS and a Maritime attack Lynx NAS from RNAS Yeovilton; showing-off some of the current serving aircraft in the Royal Navy. To mark this anniversary across the country, events have already been held in London and Londonderry with parades, flypasts and a service of remembrance in St Pauls Cathedral.
But it was in Liverpool where the Headquarters of Western Approaches Command was based during the War that the largest events were going to take place. From the city, operations directed against German U boats were planned and fought. In all Liverpool received over 1,000 convoys that helped support the war effort; re-supplying the nation with food, fuel, munitions and troops.
The Atlantic campaign reached its climax in May 1943 when the German submarine fleet suffered severe losses. U Boat skirmishes continued right up until the war ended, but the Allies had sunk so many by May 43 that they effectively won the Battle of the Atlantic thanks to the aggressive patrolling by the Royal Navy at Sea and the FAA and RAF in the Air.
Press Release, May 31, 2013; Image: Royal Navy