Liverpool leads national commemoration of Arctic Convoys at Liverpool Parish Church, the event was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Arctic Convoy memorials in St Nicholas’ Church Gardens.
The service was led by Revd Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, the Rector of Liverpool, 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, the attendees 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 two 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 first convoy leaving Liverpool on 12th August 1941 at the beginning of Operation Dervish.
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.”