U-534: U-534 was a Type IXC/40 ocean-going submarine designed for sustained operations over long distances. She is one of only four preserved WWII U-boats anywhere in the world. The first Type IXs were introduced into the Kriegsmarine in 1935 and had six torpedo tubes; four in the bow and two in the stern. Each boat carried 22 torpedoes. The usual secondary armament was a 10.5cm deck gun and two anti-aircraft guns. She was launched on 23rd September 1942 in Hamburg under the command of Oberleutnant sur Zee Herbert Nollau. As a later model, she wa slightly longer and faster than earlier Type IXs. She was sunk in the Kattegat near the Danish coast by an RAF Liberator bomber on 5th May, 1945. Of the 52 men on board, 49 survived and 3 died in the water. Rumours of Nazi gold led to her being salvaged in 1993. No gold was found.
U-534 - Specifications: Above the propeller shaft on the starboard side was the exit chute of a Pillenwerfer which deployed an anti-sonar decoy called Bold (named after Kubold, a goblin in German folklore). This made a false target for the enemy's sonar by creating a screen of bubbles from the chemical reaction of calcium hydride with sea water. U-534 had a displacement of 1,144 tonnes, length of 76.76 m, height of 9.60 m and a draught of 4.67 m (15 ft 4 in). She was powered by two supercharged MAN diesel engines on the surface and two Siemens-Schuckert electric motors when submerged. Maximum speed on the surface was 18.3 knots and 7.3 knots when submerged. Cruising speeds were 10 knots for 13,850 nautical miles on the surface and 4 knots for 63 nautical miles underwater. She could operate at a depth of up to 230 metres.
U-534 - Interior: For various reasons, including ease of transportation to its new site at Woodside Ferry, U-534 was cut into five sections, two of which were subsequently re-joined. This means that it is possible to see inside without actually entering the vessel. The four sections are: forward torpedo room, crew quarters, control centre & aft torpedo room. It is possible to see many of the original features including the toilets, torpedo tubes, wash station, galley, crew quarters, periscope and conning tower.
Albert Dock: The Albert Dock was used during WWII to berth destroyers, corvettes and sloops. It took a direct hit from a bomb but was not too badly damaged. Named after Queen Victoria’s husband, the 1840s dock buildings were ‘state of the art’ in their day and have once again become central to the commercial life of Liverpool as one of the region’s most important tourist attractions housing several museums (Maritime, Slavery, Customs and Excise, Tate Liverpool, Beatles Story) as well as shops and restaurants.
Western Approaches Museum at Derby House: On 17th February 1941. Admiral Sir Percy Noble was appointed as the new Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches Command in Liverpool. The original location for Combined Operations HQ in Plymouth had become unsatisfactory following the fall of France and the diversion of Atlantic convoys around the north of Ireland. Part of the RAF's Coastal Command (No 15 Group) was also relocated to Liverpool at the same time. Noble developed the bases for convoy escort groups and improved training facilities, helping to lay the foundations for victory. He was succeeded in November 1942 by Admiral Max Horton who developed "support groups" to reinforce convoys that came under attack. These ships had the freedom to pursue vessels spotted by reconnaissance aircraft or picked by high-frequency direction-finding (HF/DF). This proactive approach increased the pressure on the U-boats and their losses rose significantly.
Western Approaches Operations Room: The main operations room which was the nerve centre of the Battle of the Atlantic where huge maps and diagrams of the convoy routes charted the progress of the campaign. Many of the staff who served at Western Approaches HQ were members of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) known both colloquially and, eventually, officially as "Wrens". First created in 1917 the WRNS was disbanded in 1919 but reinstated in 1939. A recruiting slogan of the time was "Join the Wrens - free a man for the fleet". By 1944, there were 75,000 women serving in the WRNS, undertaking a variety of tasks from cooks and clerks to wirlesess telegraphists, radar plotters, electricians, weapons analysts & mechanics. Although finally integrated into the Royal Navy in 1997, female sailors are still referred to as "Wrens" or "Jennies" ("Jenny Wrens").
British Convoy Escort (Maritime Museum): Corvettes, destroyers and sloops played a crucial role in winning the Battle of the Atlantic. Up to 70 merchant ships would be escorted by warships capable of beating off German attacks. Disguised ‘Q-ships’ (armed merchant vessels) were also used to lure U-boats to the surface so they could be attacked. The legendary anti-U-boat strategist Captain ‘Johnnie’ Walker was one of Admiral Max Horton's most able officers, commanding the 2nd Support Group. His tactics and determination played a vital role in defeating the submarine threat. A statue on the water front commemorates his work. Sadly. he died before the war ended; the result of exhaustion.
Sonar Operator (Maritime Museum): ASDIC (Sonar) and Radar helped to locate the target. Integrating ASDIC with a plotting table and weapons made an effective anti-submarine warfare system. Ship-borne direction-finding radio equipment, known Huff-Duff was gradually fitted to the larger escorts. HF/DF let an operator determine the direction of an enemy radio signal. Short-wave radar sets that could detect surfaced U-boats and sea-scanning radar could be carried by planes. This technology gave the British a vital edge in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Liverpool Merchant Navy Memorial, Pier Head: This Memorial commemorates nearly 1,400 men from the British Merchant Navy who died on active service with the Royal Navy in the Second World War and who have no known grave. Many merchant seamen served as naval auxiliaries and their HQ was in Liverpool. It bears the inscription "These officers and men of the Merchant Navy died while serving with the Royal Navy and have no grave but the sea 1939-1945". The names of the dead are inscribed on 25 bronze plaques arranged around the Portland stone base of the Memorial.
Wartime House (note Blast Tape): The house was originally built in 1852 for the pier master and his family. The pier master was responsible for ensuring the safe passage of ships entering and leaving the dock at high tide. The house was one of four built on this site and was the only one left standing following the heavy bombings in the Second World War. It is now restored as a WWII-themed museum with period furniture and objects which reflect the nature of life during the blitz.
St Luke's - The "Bombed-Out Church": St Luke's was a former Anglican parish church built in the first half of the 19th century. In 1941, at the height of the May Blitz, the church was hit by an incendiary bomb, destroying the roof and gutting the building. It has been preservedin that state as a Memorial to civilians killed in the war. Liverpool and Merseyside was the most heavily-bombed area of the country outside London and had the second-highest death toll after the Capital with 4,000 people killed. It was a major strategic target. Not only was it a major naval base in the Battle of the Atlantic, it also handled 90% (75 million tons) of all war material imported into the country along its 11 miles of docks. Across the river, in Birkenhead, was Cammell Laird's shipyard.
Underground Shelter - Kitchen: A community of a sort became established in the shelters and facilities had to be provided for those taking refuge there. As well as medical posts, refreshments were offered, prepared in basic kitchens such as this one. Advice was given to people as to how best to cope with the conditions they faced. People travelled from considerable distances by tram to take shelter here.
Underground Shelter - Propaganda & Information Posters: A number of items are displayed evoking the period of the blitz and the war on the Home Front. Among these are propaganda posters such as those encouraging women to do their bit for the war effort in various ways including work in the ammunitions factories. Others reminding people to ‘keep mum’ lest they inadvertently give away vital information to enemy agents.