During the First World War, both Britain and Germany relied on imports for food and vital raw materials, much of which came from the Americas via the Atlantic Ocean. Britain and Germany both tried to blockade each other, using their war ships to block the merchant ships from reaching their home ports. The British Royal … More British merchant losses in WWI
The term ‘Merchant Navy’ includes all commercial UK-registered ships and their crews. They fly the Red Ensign flag and are regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The Merchant Navy is not one of Britain’s armed forces, unlike the Royal Navy. But commercial ships were awarded the title of Merchant Navy by George V, in … More Introducing the Merchant Navy
The Abandon Ship! project is currently seeking volunteers to help with the development and delivery of the exhibition and events programme. … More Help Wanted !
As with figures such as the ‘Red Baron’ Manfred von Richthofen, Werner Voss and General Erich Ludendorff, Dohna-Schlodien was celebrated in newspapers, postcards, postage stamps, medallions and war art by a German propaganda machine that glorified individual heroism. This is shown in the image of the medallion below. While there were other figures who were … More SMS Möwe, Otaki’s Nemesis – An ex-banana boat, Part 2
Abandon Ship! details two famous Merchant Navy ships sunk during both World Wars, as examples of the sacrifices made by merchant seamen during both conflicts – along with the perils that they faced when the order came to abandon ship. The case that our exhibition uses to highlight the Merchant Navy losses during the First … More SMS Möwe, Otaki’s Nemesis – An ex-banana boat, Part 1
Last month the wreck of the US Navy’s heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis was discovered 5.5 km deep in the Pacific, 72 years after being sunk by a Japanese submarine in the final weeks of the Second World War. Between 800 and 900 men survived the initial attack and were able to ‘Abandon Ship’, but by … More USS Indianpolis
The SS City of Benares was launched from Glasgow in August 1935. A steam passenger ship on the Ellerman Line, during the Second World War it was used as an evacuee ship. On 13 September 1940, City of Benares left Liverpool to cross the Atlantic to Montreal and Quebec, Canada. She was carrying 90 evacuee … More Infamous sinking
Abandon Ship – The Merchant Seaman who Survived 133 Days Alone On A Raft On The South Atlantic Poon Lim was born in Hainan, China. In 1942, during World War II, he was working as second steward on the British merchant ship SS Ben Lomond. The ship was armed but slow moving and she was sailing … More
Although the Merchant Navy was officially recognised by the British monarch following its vital role in the First World War, it is not one of the Armed Forces, made up of the Royal Navy, Army, and Air Force. Because of this, sailors in the Merchant Navy didn’t qualify for military honours and were not included … More Merchant Navy Day
As the Abandon Ship! exhibition focuses on two ships that sank, it was always going to be difficult to find objects to tell their story, as these now lie at the bottom of the ocean. As well as free, fun family activities every Sunday afternoon in August, to help visitors understand a little more about … More Experience abandoning ship!
During the Second World War, propaganda was a weapon almost as important as guns. On both sides, terrible stories were spread, making it easier to see the people on the Other Side as the enemy. In the summer of 1942, British newspapers had reported that German uBoats had opened fire on lifeboats. However, in reality … More Propaganda v Truth
Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. That very evening, the first merchant ship to fall victim to the war was sunk. The steam passenger ship Athenia was torpedoed without warning in the Atlantic, west of Ireland. The U-boat captain had believed the ship was an armed cruiser. Most of the 315 crew … More British merchant losses in WWII
Over the distance of time, the stories of the First World War become fainter and it is easy to think of it as ancient history. However, the memory of those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice is still alive. Captain Archibald Bisset Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during the … More The Otaki story lives on