Pte William Ratcliffe Commemorative Memorial Stone Unveiled.

A commemorative paving stone has been unveiled in memory of a Liverpool docker, a century to the day since he was awarded the Victoria Cross during World War 1.

The stone was laid in honour of William Ratcliffe (1884-1963) who was presented with the Victoria Cross in 1917 whilst serving with the South Lancashire Regiment (now amalgamated into the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment).

William – known as Bill – was born at 38 Newhall Street in the Dingle, and was a pupil at St Vincent’s School in nearby Norfolk Street. When he left school, William worked on the Liverpool docks before joining the British Army at the age of 17 and served in South Africa during the Second Boer War. After serving, he returned to the docks until the outbreak of WWI when he re-joined his old regiment.

In April 1917, during the Battle of Messines, William Ratcliffe was awarded a Military Medal for gallantry and on 14th June, only a matter of weeks later, earned his Victoria Cross. He was 33 years old and a Private in the 2nd Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment, when his battalion was ordered to attack a line of German trenches on Messines Ridge. William Ratcliffe was a stretcher-bearer, following up behind the advancing troops to bring in the casualties, and spent most of the night bringing in the wounded through a heavy barrage. He also located an enemy machine-gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, picked up a rifle from a dead comrade and single-handedly rushed the machine-gun position and bayoneted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action on the frontline. His actions brought the award of the Victoria Cross, with which he was invested personally by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 26th September 1917.

When the war was over, Bill again returned to his job on Liverpool docks where he was affectionately known as “The Dockers VC”. In 1956, celebrations were held in London to mark the centenary of the Victoria Cross and all living holders were invited to be reviewed by the Queen in Hyde Park. Bill was reluctant to attend as he couldn’t afford to buy a suit for the occasion. When this became apparent, The South Lancashire Regimental Association intervened and a local gentleman’s outfitters readily made him a new suit free of charge, and Bill travelled to London.

He never married and later lived with relatives at St Oswald’s Gardens in Old Swan. He died on 26th March 1963, aged 79, and is buried at Allerton Cemetery. His medals, including his Victoria Cross and Military Medal, are on loan to the Imperial War Museum London. The German Maxim machine-gun which he captured that day in 1917 is on display at the Lancashire Infantry Museum.

His citation in the London Gazette reads:

“For most conspicuous bravery. After an enemy’s trench had been captured, Pte. Ratcliffe located an enemy machine gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, whereupon, single-handed and on his own initiative, he immediately rushed the machine gun position and bayonetted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action in the front line. This very gallant soldier has displayed great resource on previous occasions, and has set an exceptionally fine example of devotion to duty.”

The commemorative stone is part of a national scheme run by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which will see every World War One Victoria Cross recipient remembered in this way.

The event was attended by Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, veterans and serving military representatives and also relatives of William Ratcliffe.

The Lord Mayor said: “William Ratcliffe was a gallant and fearless soldier whose selfless actions saved many lives. He was completely devoted to his duty.

“Liverpool is incredibly proud of him and this is why we are honouring him with this fitting ceremony on the centenary of his VC award. I am personally privileged to be able to attend and unveil this stone in his honour.

“The stone will be a permanent reminder of the incredible contribution that he made to the war effort and his role in making sure that more soldiers weren’t lost.”

William Ratcliffe is one of nine men from Liverpool who were awarded the Victoria Cross during World War 1, and a further four will be honoured in this way between now and December 2017.

For pics see link below:-

Memorial Stone

WW1 Victoria Cross Recepient Honoured in Liverpool.

A COMMEMORATIVE paving stone was unveiled in memory of a Liverpool man who was awarded the Victoria Cross during World War 1.

The stone was laid at Princes Park in honour of Ronald Neil Stuart (1886 – 1954) who was awarded the honour on 7 June 1917 for actions whilst serving with the Royal Navy Reserve on board HMS Pargust, a converted Tramp Steamer. The ship was torpedoed by an enemy submarine but the actions of the crew ensured that it was able to retaliate by opening fire, sinking it.

Ronald was born into a seafaring family on 26th August 1886 at 31 Kelvin Grove, Toxteth Park and attended Liverpool Collegiate School before taking on an apprenticeship aged 15 years with local shipping company Joseph Steele & Co.

He went to sea in 1902 on board the barque ‘Kirkhill’ and later joined the Allan Line which was taken over by Canadian Pacific. In 1914, he joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a probationary Sub-Lieutenant and was later promoted to Lieutenant Commander RNR in 1918.

In March 1917, in an action almost identical to that described in Stuart’s VC citation below, Campbell earned his VC and Stuart was awarded his Distinguished Service Order (DSO). The action for which Capt. Ronald Neil Stuart received the Victoria Cross took place on 7th June 1917 when he was serving on board H.M.S Pargust, again with Campbell.

For the action of H.M.S. Pargust and Capt. Ronald Neil Stuart, the citation in the London Gazette reads:

“On the 7th June, 1917, while disguised as a British merchant vessel with a dummy gun mounted aft, H.M.S. “Pargust” was torpedoed at very close range. Her boiler-room, engine-room, and No. 5 hold were immediately flooded, and the starboard lifeboat was blown to pieces. The weather was misty at the time, fresh breeze and a choppy sea. The “panic party,” under the command of Lieutenant P. R. Hereford, D.S.C., R.N.R., abandoned ship, and as the last boat was shoving off, the periscope of the submarine was observed close before the port beam about 400 yards distant. The enemy then submerged, and periscope reappeared directly astern, passing to the starboard quarter, and then round to the port beam, when it turned again towards the ship, breaking surface about 50 yards away. The lifeboat, acting as a lure, commenced to pull round the stern; submarine followed-closely and Lieutenant Hereford, with complete disregard of the danger incurred from fire of either ship or submarine (who had trained a maxim on the lifeboat), continued to decoy her to within 50 yards of the ship. The “Pargust” then opened fire with all guns, and the submarine, with oil squirting from her side and the crew pouring out of the conning tower, steamed slowly across the bows with a heavy list. The enemy crew held up their hands in token of surrender, whereupon fire immediately ceased. The submarine then began to move away at a gradually increasing speed, apparently endeavouring to escape in the mist. Fire was reopened until she sank, one man clinging to the bow as she went down. The boats, after a severe pull to windward, succeeded in saving one officer and one man. American Destroyers and a British sloop arrived shortly afterwards, and the “Pargust” was towed back to port. As on the previous occasions, officers and men displayed the utmost courage and confidence in their captain, and the action serves as an example of what perfect discipline, when coupled with such confidence, can achieve.”

It was indicated that the whole of the ship’s crew deserved the Victoria Cross, but in accordance with the regulations governing the award, the men were only allowed to nominate one officer and one seaman by ballot – and Lieutenant Stuart DSO and AB William Williams DSM were chosen. He was 30 years old and his medal was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917.

He survived the war and pursued a naval career with Canadian Pacific, including the captaincy of the ‘Empress of Britain’, before giving up the sea in 1936 but continuing in a managerial role with the Company. He died in Kent and his medals are on display in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

The commemorative stone is part of a national scheme run by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which will see every World War One Victoria Cross recipient remembered in this way.

The event was attended by Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, veterans and serving military representatives and also relatives of Ronald Neil Stuart.

The Lord Mayor said: “Ronald Neil Stuart displayed undeniable courage whilst also instilling confidence in his crew.

“It is important that his contribution to World War 1 is remembered and I am privileged to be able to attend the unveiling of his stone.

“It will be a permanent reminder of the incredible contribution that he made to the war effort and his role in making sure that more lives weren’t lost.”

For pics see link below:-

The Memorial Stone to Mr Stuart VC

Atlantic Conveyor Remembered

A special service was conducted today on the 35th anniversary of the sinking of the Atlantic Conveyor.  The Liverpool registered ship was lost on the 25th May 1982 killing 12 people, 6 were Cunard crew and 6 were from the Royal Navy.

Atlantic Conveyor was requisitioned by the government, and was struck by two Exocet missiles and a fierce fire broke out during the Falklands War.

The service was held in Liverpool Parish Church and conducted by Father Crispin Pailing.  During the service representatives from Cunard and ACL spoke during the service.  Also speaking at the service was Revd Richard Buckley, FRSA Royal Navy who was the Chaplain to Hospital Ships during the Falklands Conflict.

After the service inside, the dignitaries including High Sheriff Stephen Burrows, Lord Lieutenant Dame Lorna Muirhead, Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Malcolm Kennedy and Angus Struthers walked outside to the memorial plaque for the Conveyor to lay wreaths and pay their respects.

See link for photo’s:-

Floral tributes and the plaque

World War One VC Hero Honoured in Liverpool

A commemorative stone has been laid 100 years to the day of his death of a Liverpool War Hero. Mr Albert White, gained his VC on the day of his death 19 May, 1917. The stone was unveiled at a ceremony in the gardens of Liverpool Parish Church, Our Lady and St Nicholas.

Albert White was born in Kirkdale and followed his father’s example by becoming a merchant seamen working as a coal trimmer.

When war broke out in August 1914, he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was then transferred to the South Wales Borderers on 1 June 1915.

He was sent to Gallipoli where over the following nine months his Battalion lost almost 1,600 officers and men. Evacuated from Egypt, he was then posted to France where he survived the carnage of the opening day of the Battle of the Somme and many other battles.

The action for which he received the Victoria Cross took place at Monchy-le-Preux in France during the Battle of Arras on 19 May 1917. He was killed during this action aged just 25 and his medal was presented posthumously to his father by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21 July 1917.

His citation in the London Gazette reads:

“For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Realising during an attack that one of the enemy’s machine guns, which had previously been located, would probably hold up the whole advance of his Company, Sjt White, without the slightest hesitation, and regardless of all personal danger, dashed ahead of his Company to capture the gun. When within a few yards of the gun he fell riddled with bullets, having thus willingly sacrificed his life in order that he might secure the success of the operations and the welfare of his comrades”

For photo’s see link below:-

Memorial Stone

Syttende Mai in Liverpool 2017

Norwegian people, young and old came together in the Pier Head to celebrate their Constitution Day.  The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark–Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars

Members of the congregation from the Nordic Church in Park Lane, met near the plaque for personnel lost during the Battle Of The Atlantic.  Some were dressed in traditional costumes with blue, red and white ribbons. A service was held in Norwegian and a wreath was laid under the plaque.

Accompanied by the Imperial Corps of Drums from Liverpool, the parade went from the Pier Head, into the Albert Dock.  Banners and flags were carried by people in the parade, with the parade concluding at the entrance to the Albert Dock.

For pics see link below:

Parade continues at the Pier Head

St Georges Day Parade takes place in Liverpool

Yesterday, on our National Saints Day, St George a parade was held and marched through the city.

The march organised by the Loyal Orange Institution of England and Liverpool Provincial Grand Lodge.

Various lodges and bands took part in the parade, to celebrate our National Saints Day.

It included members parading being accompanied by traditional Orange bands playing a variety of different instruments.

The parade moved off at 3pm from various points across the city including Netherfield Road, Dingle and Garston.

The parade made its way into the City Centre, saluting the Cenotaph at St George’s Hall to remember the fallen.

Then continuing to the Anglican Cathedral, for a family Service of Worship and evensong.

The service was conducted by the Vice Dean of the Cathedral.

The service included a band providing a musical interlude inside the Cathedral, playing traditional Patriotic music, to Celebrate St Georges Day.

The Great George Bell was rung on the day of celebration.

There was several hundred people on the parade to mark St George’s Day.

Many St George’s flags and flags of the United Kingdom were flown on the parade as a sign of our patriotism towards the National Saint.

The Orange Institution is proud of its heritage and looks forward to celebrating England’s National Saints day each year.

For pics see link below:-

Band members on march

Zeebrugge Memorial Service Held at Seacombe Ferry

The 99th Annual service was held this morning at Seacombe Ferry to remember the fallen from one of the most heroic actions of World War One on the 23rd April 1918.

Veterans and residents gathered at the Zeebrugge Memorial at the ferry terminal to remember the brave attempt by the Royal Navy to neutralise the Belgian port, which was used as a base for German U-boats.

The original Daffodil and Iris acted as both landing craft for Marines, and tugboats to HMS Vindictive in the operation.

They came under heavy fire but, battered and intact, both ferries returned, and King George V awarded them the title of “Royal” ferries, a unique distinction that remains to this day.

The action saw vicious hand-to-hand fighting, incredible heroism and the award of 200 medals for gallantry including eight Victoria Crosses, the highest military honour for bravery.

The service was taken by Revd David Baverstock the asst priest at Liverpool Parish Church.  Wirral Mayor Cllr Pat Hackett, and the mayoress were amongst the dignitaries who attended the service with the newly elected High Sheriff Of Merseyside, Stephen Burrows in attendance also.  Local MP Angela Eagle was also there at the service.

The service was held on the jetty, and then wreaths were thrown into the River Mersey, the service then continued in the cafe area of the terminal, then finally over to the Zeebrugge memorial where additional wreaths were laid.  Finally there was a march past the memorial and onto the promenade, with the band playing.

For pics see the link below:-

Wreaths after the service