Derry’s vital role in winning the Battle of the Atlantic is to be marked tomorrow by the unveiling of bronze statue of a sailor.
This month marks the 70th anniversary of ‘the turning of the tide’ in the battle, a conflict at the height of which Derry port played host to 30,000 sailors and 140 naval ships at any given time.
The International Sailor statue is a replica of the Mariner sculpture statue in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada and represents parts played by seamen from the many Allied nations who protected the shipping convoys and engaged the Nazi war machine during the ferocious Battle of the Atlantic.
The statue in Ebrington, formerly Sea Eagle and HMS Ferret, is to be unveiled at 12.30 tomorrow.
Robert Buchanan, of the local branch of the Royal Naval Association, said the unveiling ceremony would form part of a weekend of commemorations which will be attended by visitors from Canada, Norway, Italy, Australia, America, the UK and Ireland. On Sunday there will be a Battle of the Atlantic parade to and commemoration service in St Columb’s Cathedral. The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which provided help to 2,324 Battle of Atlantic survivors who were landed at Derry, yesterday paid tribute to the sacrifice that local merchant seamen and fishermen made during the Battle.
Chief Executive of the Society, Commodore Malcolm Williams, said that in the Battle’s 70th anniversary year: “The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of the second world war which resulted in one of the highest levels of human sacrifice during the entire conflict. From 1939 to 1945 between 30,000 and 40,000 Merchant Navy personnel were lost and over 5,000 ships and their cargoes sunk. The outstanding efforts of those from Londonderry should not be forgotten.”