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Liverpool leads national commemoration of Arctic Convoys
Photo by Frances Haycock, MOD - Defence Imagery

A national service to mark the 80th Anniversary of the Arctic Convoys has taken place in Liverpool. The event, at Liverpool Parish Church, was followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Arctic Convoy Memorials, in St Nicholas' Church. Gardens. The service was led by the Rector of Liverpool, the Revd Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, and guests; including:- UK and foreign dignitaries; were welcomed by Mr Mark Blundell, the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, and Cllr Mary Rasmussen, the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Among those attending were:- Baroness Goldie, Minister of State for Defence and Wendy Morton MP, Minister for European Neighbourhoods and the Americas, together with His Excellency Andrei Kelin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom.  After the service, they were shown Western Approaches, which was established in February 1941, with the primary objective to provide protection for the convoys and control their journeys to and from the UK.

The visit concluded with a reception for 150 guests, at Liverpool Town Hall, where 2 veterans of the Arctic Convoys were amongst those receiving a presentation from the Lord Mayor. The event was held on the 80th Anniversary of the 1st convoy leaving Liverpool, on 12 August 1941, at the beginning of Operation Dervish.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas, Wendy Morton MP, said:- "The Arctic Convoys displayed exceptional bravery in some of the most challenging circumstances in the 2nd World War. Today, on the 80th Anniversary of the 1st Convoys' departure from Liverpool, we honour all those who served and pay tribute to their heroism and sacrifice. They played a major role in the shared history between the UK and Russia and the ultimate Allied victory."

Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Mary Rasmussen, said:- "It is a privilege to welcome so many distinguished visitors to the city to commemorate such a significant event. We pay tribute to those who sailed in the Arctic Convoys, but also celebrate the bonds of friendship and cooperation between nations."

The Rector of Liverpool, the Reverend Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, who will lead the service, said:- "Liverpool was the focus of all the planning of operations for the Convoys - the Memorial to the Convoys, at Liverpool Parish Church, have been a place for reflection and commemoration for many years. I hope the Anniversary events are an opportunity to stand together once again for a peaceful world."

Lieutenant Colonel G A Balmer RM, Deputy Naval Regional Commander, said:- "In amongst a war of national survival, the operational and logistical challenges for the Arctic Convoys were tremendous and we should all admire the courage of both the Merchant Fleet and the Armed Forces as they faced the harshest conditions imaginable. From a local perspective, it demonstrated the depth of support the City of Liverpool has always, and will always, give the Armed Forces."

Did you know that Liverpool had the most important Command Centre for the European conflict outside of London? Western Approaches HQ was the command centre for the entire Battle of the Atlantic and the Arctic Convoys From the Operations Room, deep beneath the streets of Liverpool, the men and women of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force worked tirelessly to ensure their safety. Today, the bunker is preserved as a museum. More information is available at:- LiverpoolWarMuseum.Co.UK. If you havn't visited, we strongly suggest you take a look!

76th Anniversary of VJ Day - Southport
Photographs and video by Patrick Trollope

WHILST VE Day marked the end of the war in Europe, in May 1945, it was not the end of World War 2. Bitter fighting in the Far East still raged on, with thousands of Armed Forces personnel, from Brittan and other Allied forces still involved. Despite giving the Japanese the chance to surrender, the Imperial Japanese Army continued to fight. As a result, as the Allies prepared for a costly invasion of the Japanese mainland, the United States detonated dropped of 2 nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, on 6 August 1945, then Nagasaki, on 9 August 1945. The bombs lead to Japanese to surrendering on the 15 August 1945, ending combat action in much of the Pacific Rim. But, it would not be until 2 September 1945, that Imperial Japan would sign the formal surrender document, onboard the battleship USS Missouri. This formalized the surrender marked the end official end to World War 2, but for many British and Allied forces, who had taken part in that field of conflict, most did not see the same joy and celebrations that the many thousands of Armed Forces personnel had had on the end of conflict over Germany. Sadly, for many, these servicemen were mostly got forgotten about in the UK. Sadly, this is a very similar picture today. Sadly, with 2020 marking the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day, the armed forces charity, SSAFA found that 46% who said they did not know what VJ Day is, just 5% said they would commemorate it. After the war ended, many of those who took part in the campaigns in the East, often to refer to themselves as the:- 'forgotten Army.' Luckily, not all have forgotten, with service of remembrance being held like those in Formby, Southport, and Liverpool. Many areas within the UK had small groups gathering to mark the day Japan surrendered and to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in the conflict. VJ Day was also the ended of 1 of the worst episodes in British military history. The bitter fighting also lead to tens of thousands of servicemen being forced to endure the brutalities of Japanese prisoner of war camps. Sadly, as the Armed Forces charity SSAFA said last year:- "t seems that this key date is slowly being erased from British history."


76th Anniversary of VJ Day - Formby

THESE photos were taken by Major (RTD) Roy Bevan MBE in Formby, on 14 August 2021. The 1st location was shot at the memorial for the 13th Kings Regiment, who were based in the village before heading out to Burma. The event marked their supreme sacrifice, as, without it, life would be very different to what it is now.  The other location was taken at the more traditional location, the War Memorial, within the Village Centre.




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