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Stories of War At Sea at Imperial War Museum North in Manchester
George Plante, A Rescue-ship in the Atlantic, March 1943, oil on canvas.
MANCHESTER.- Jump aboard and test your sea legs at this major new exhibition for families at Imperial War Museum North in Manchester. Get hands on with activities for all the family in the Imperial War Museum’s first ever large-scale exhibition to look at life at sea in wartime.

Action-packed and interactive, this is a great day out for visitors of all ages. Ever imagined what it would be like to be a sailor? Try out some ‘Jackspeak’ and see if naval clothing would keep you warm on the icy deck of a warship in the Arctic. Discover the naval origins of many everyday words and phrases and find out why you might find a reindeer on a battleship. Learn which animals have sailed the oceans and why, from cats and dogs to more unusual creatures.

Embark on a voyage of discovery through some of the most momentous events in British history - from the First World War to the present day. Immerse yourself in the vast scale of the oceans and ships, while discovering moving real life stories of bravery, adventure, suffering and survival. See and hear what life was like at sea through the words and voices of people who were there.

This free exhibition contains many objects on public display for the first time, including part of a ship’s gun damaged during the first sea battle of the First World War, medals awarded for bravery at Dunkirk, and a uniform worn by a woman who worked on preparations for D-Day.

All Aboard: Stories of War at Sea is timed to mark the anniversaries of some of the most significant and dramatic moments in British history. This year is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic and the evacuation of Dunkirk, while the exhibition also includes powerful stories from more recent conflicts, marking the 20th anniversary of The Gulf War 1990-91 for example.

Ship-Shape Saturdays at the Museum are packed with even more family fun - from craft to theatrical performances - throughout the exhibition. Get a feel for historic naval items in our object handling sessions. Join one of our Animals and War sessions to meet ship's cat Simon, then spot him in the exhibition.

Find Imperial War Museum North at the Quays, Manchester. Although no longer a working port, in the Second World War, the Quays, then called the Port of Manchester, was a busy hub for merchant ships bringing in their vital cargoes from overseas. Come and explore how the Merchant Navy struggled against the odds to keep Britain supplied during the Battle of the Atlantic. See how many of our possessions are still supplied by the Merchant Navy today.

Uncover more remarkable objects from war at sea in the Museum’s Main Exhibition Space, such as the bell of the enormous liner, Lusitania, sunk by a German U-boat in 1915. Don’t miss the lifebelt recovered from HMS Indefatigable, sunk in 1916 at the Battle of Jutland, the last and largest of the great sea battles. Then take home an array of ship-shape toys from the Imperial War Museum North shop – from soft rats to dough boy hats.

Jim Forrester, Imperial War Museum North Director, said: “As an island nation, the extraordinary courage and sacrifice of men and women at sea in wartime was hugely important to Britain’s history. With incredible tales of real people involved in dramatic events on the high seas and activities for all the family, All Aboard: Stories of War at Sea shows how war at sea has shaped all of our lives. The exhibition is a great, free day out.”

Imperial War Museum North | All Aboard: Stories of War at Sea | Jim Forrester |




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