U-boat anniversary weekend

The U-Boats surrendered on the Foyle.
The U-Boats surrendered on the Foyle.

This weekend marks the 71st anniversary of the U boat surrender at Lisahally – a local event of significant international importance and major turning point of the Second World War - and to commemorate the anniversary, a series of events have been organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council, and the local Royal Naval Association.

Building on the success of last year’s 70th anniversary celebrations, the U Boat Surrender programme of events will tell the story of the city’s war effort through a series of talks, exhibitions and family friendly activities in the Guildhall, Guildhall Square and the Tower Museum.

Among the exhibits will be a full size replica Spitfire in Guildhall Square, as well as a range of displays from Second World War Collections in the Guildhall Main Hall and Whittaker Suite, including vintage clothing and previously unseen photographs and footage of Derry during the war years, a 1940s style photo booth and war–inspired refreshments in Café Atlantic.

The programme includes talks at the Tower Museum on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th May, from 12 noon-3pm, on topics as diverse as ‘Rags, Rashers and Rationing’ and the ‘B-17 Bomber in the Foyle’; as well as an interactive display of the Donegal Spitfire recovered from bog land near Gleneely; and a UXB bomb disposal demonstration by local historian, Jonny McNee in Guildhall Square.

The Council’s Education Officer Margaret Edwards said the U Boat Surrender programme offers a great opportunity to reclaim this important aspect of the region’s rich maritime heritage.

“We’re delighted to host this series of free events to mark this important milestone in the city’s maritime history. It will be a nostalgic trip down memory lane for anyone who remembers how the arrival of the Allied sailors and servicemen during the war years transformed Derry into a cultural melting pot.

“For anyone not old enough to remember, it’s a great opportunity to learn about the role played by the city in one of the most significant events in history.”

The Royal Naval Association will also be joining a number of veterans from Canada, with a commemoration ceremony today, remembering the night the HMS Laurentic sank on 25th January 1917 with a loss of 354 lives.

There is also a Service of Remembrance this Sunday, 8th May at 11am at All Saint’s Church, Clooney.

For more information see the Derry City and Strabane District Council website, http://www.derrystrabane.com/