Son finally sees his father return a war hero – 75 years after the event was filmed

A visitor to Western Approaches in Liverpool was shocked to see footage of his father returning home from sea a hero, 75 years after he was refused entry to see the film...

A visitor to Western Approaches – the once-secret War Bunker in Liverpool where the battle of the Atlantic was planned – was shocked to see film footage of his war hero father in a 1940s Pathé film, almost 75 years after he was refused entry into the cinema to see it as a child with his mother.

Mr Marchant’s father, Acting Stoker CP Marchant PO was onboard HMS Wild Goose – an escort ship captained by the famous Frederic ‘Johnny’ Walker. In March 1944, the ship returned to the port of Liverpool, having taken part in the most successful anti-submarine mission of the entire war, which saw the sinking of six German u-boats.

Thousands of people lined the docks to cheer the return of the ship, and in an effort to boost morale, a government film was broadcast to cinemas across the country, highlighting the success. Mr Marchant, who was just 6 at the time was sadly too young to be allowed into the cinema, so was unable to watch the footage of his hero father sailing into dock.

The record-breaking mission helped change the course of the war, and was planned in Western Approaches – a secret bunker under Exchange Flags in Liverpool, which has recently re-opened to the public as a visitor experience.

Mr Marchant and his wife made the journey from his home in Bedfordshire to visit Western Approaches, but had no idea that the film footage showing his father’s return was shown on a loop in a room dedicated to Johnny Walker and his men, and was able to finally see his father return a hero.

Dean Paton, who was on duty at that day said: “Mr Marchant was kind enough to bring some amazing photographs of his father with the rest of the crew on-board HMS Wild Goose. We always love hearing people tell stories of their parents, but this was particularly special. When we realised that this was the first time he had seen the film of his father, it was both thrilling and emotional. There were plenty of teary-eyes amongst the staff that day, and we’ve made a copy of the footage for Mr Marchant to watch any time he likes from home.”

Mr Marchant said: “It was a lovely visit to Liverpool, and so special to see the film footage of my father for the first time. My wife and I were so pleased to see it, we are all very proud of my father.”

The Western Approaches bunker is now open all year round and tells the story of the men and women who bravely fought in the Battle of the Atlantic.

To celebrate Father’s Day, and Mr Marchant’s story, all Fathers will be given free entry into Western Approaches HQ this Sunday when accompanied by their child.

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