Albert Dock and the Battle of the Atlantic

Naval ships in the Albert Dock in the 1930s

Naval reserve squadron of sloops moored alongside 'C' block of warehouses in the Albert Dock in the mid 1930s 

The Merseyside Maritime Museum is housed in block 'D' of the Albert Dock warehouses.  Like most of Liverpool’s docks, The Albert Dock and surrounding area had an important wartime role during the Battle of the Atlantic:

Home to Corvettes

Plaque at Albert Dock commemorating the presence of Royal Navy escort ships in Liverpool during the Second World War 'HMS Campanula' recorded in the Albert Dock register leaving Albert Dock during the Second World War. Maritime Archives collections, National Museums Liverpool, MDHB-OP-1 Nicholas Monsarrat on the bridge of 'HMS Campanula'. Copyright unknown believed to be expired, from the Atheneum Library.

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The Albert Dock provided berths and maintenance workshops for Flower Class Corvettes, tasked with protecting the convoys responsible for maintaining the vital supply link of food and materials with the USA.

One of the Corvettes housed at the Albert Dock was 'HMS Campanula', the ship of Nicholas Monsarrat. The author used his time aboard 'HMS Campanula' as the inspiration for his famous 1951 novel 'The Cruel Sea', set aboard the fictional Corvette 'HMS Compass Rose'. Monsarrat referred to the Albert Dock in his 1942 book 'HM Corvette', saying 

"At our usual base there is one small dock, nicknamed ‘The Garage’ that has become Corvette Headquarters. At the end of a convoy it is crammed with ships; and this recurrent association, and the chance of exchanging visits, is remarkably pleasant, particularly at the end of a trip which may have been rough in one way or another."    

Uniform jacket and hat belonging to Lieutenant-Commander Leonard Hill, DSC and Bar.

Uniform jacket and hat belonging to Lieutenant-Commander Leonard Hill, DSC and Bar.

Bomb damage

Like the rest of the dock system, the area around Albert Dock was targeted by bombers of the German Airforce (Luftwaffe), particularly during the May Blitz in 1941. 

On display in the Battle of the Atlantic gallery is the uniform jacket and hat of Lieutenant-Commander Leonard Hill, DSC and Bar, of the Minesweeping Service, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. During an air raid two large 'parachute mines' (magnetic sea mines dropped by parachute) landed in Canning Dock near to Albert Dock. Hill, with one other man, took a rowing boat and found them by picking up the cords of the parachutes with a non-magnetic grapple. He then succeeded in making them safe by exploding a small charge in their close proximity.

Other wartime usage 

During the Second World War the Albert Dock was also used to store landing craft for the D-Day landings. The nearby Dock Traffic Office (now renamed the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building) was used as an anti-aircraft instruction centre for merchant seamen.

Salthouse Dock was home to 'HMS Eaglet', a converted First World War sloop that acted as the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief for Western approaches. 'Eaglet' acted as a storehouse for WRNS serving at Western Approaches and as a gunnery training school.