The end of February marked the visit of the HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier to the River Mersey. To celebrate the occasion Liverpool hosted a Wartime Weekend. It was an extremely popular event with over 20,000 people visiting the ship itself plus thousands more at the Pier Head and lining the river banks. The warship was quite awe inspiring – the flight deck has enough space for three football pitches! She has 700 crew, can embark 40 helicopters and move at 500 miles per day. So pretty impressive!
One of the city’s literal “hidden gems” is the Western Approaches HQ in Rumford Street. In February 1941, Combined Operations moved into a secret bunker underneath the courtyard of the Exchange Flags building. At that time, German aircraft and U-boats were attacking ships travelling in from the continent and the Atlantic Ocean. The museum tells the story with interactive displays, artefacts, the RAF plotting room, cabins, bunk rooms, radio room, dock lane and much more.
During the Wartime Weekend, there were re-enactors, vintage vehicles, wartime entertainment, vintage stalls and Winston Churchill. There was a Royal Marines abseil down the Exchange Flags buildings. The re-enactors in the area explained that the military vehicles were spread out because, of course, the area beneath was a void with the underground bunker. The heavy guns had to be displayed in the surrounding street.
The whole event reminded people of the role that was played by the Royal Navy and the city of Liverpool in those dreadful times.