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Newfoundland bell honouring ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ connections on show at Tower Museum

28 June 2018

A specially-commissioned ship’s bell honouring the Newfoundland Escort Force (NEF) will be on display at the Tower Museum in Derry until the end of August 2018 – before it is transported to Canada where it will find a permanent home.

The ‘Newfoundland Escort Force Bell’ is the third and final ‘convoy’ bell which has been specially commissioned to connect the wartime port cities of Derry, Halifax (Nova Scotia) and St John’s (Newfoundland) – three naval bases that played a pivotal role during the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ and commonly referred to as ‘The Triangle Run’.

The project has been a joint venture between veterans of the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy to ensure that the service and sacrifice of those who participated in the Battle of the Atlantic is never forgotten.

Back in 2005, the first bell was consecrated at St Columb’s Cathedral in Derry and is currently on display in St Brendan’s Church, Halifax. The second bell – named after the famed ‘Newfie-Derry Run’ – was consecrated in the Anglican Cathedral of St John the Baptist in St John’s Newfoundland, and transported to Derry in 2007 where it is a prominent feature in the Tower Museum.

The third and final bell in the series – the Newfoundland Escort Force Bell – was commissioned by the Londonderry Branch of the Royal Naval Association.  It was consecrated in St Columb’s Cathedral on Sunday 20th May – during this year’s Battle of the Atlantic anniversary commemorations.

Following its display at the Tower Museum, the final ‘convoy’ bell will be transported to Canada in September – where it will be presented to the city of St John’s and the people of Newfoundland in recognition of the contribution of the Escort Force in protecting merchant ships as convoys made their way through German U-boat ‘wolf packs’ to get much needed supplies to the UK.

The Newfoundland Escort Force Bell is mounted on a hardwood stand and was manufactured in Derry. The bell was specially designed by Chairman of the Londonderry Branch of the Royal Naval Association, Robert Buchanan and prototypes were created by Billy Doherty – with the final piece crafted by John Nesbitt.

Robert Buchanan, Chairman of the Londonderry Branch of the Royal Naval Association, said: “The project to commission the set of three ‘convoy bells’ is now almost complete. The third bell – the Newfoundland Escort Force Bell – will be making its way across the North Atlantic in September.

“We are very pleased that Museum Services are able to display the bell before it goes to its permanent home in St John’s, Newfoundland. Indeed, we see the bells as a great visual asset in our ongoing quest to raise awareness of our unique maritime history.

“I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to come along to the Tower Museum and learn a little bit more about the Battle of the Atlantic – at a time when the Foyle was buzzing with activity and the North West of Ireland was known throughout the world.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Londonderry Port & Harbour, the Museum Services of Derry City & Strabane District Council, the Canadian Veterans, their families and friends, and sister branches of the Royal Naval Association – without whose support this amazing project would simply not have happened.”

For further information on the ‘Newfoundland Escort Force Bell’ and opening times please contact the Tower Museum on 02871 372411 or email [email protected]