Wirral played a key role in national commemorations to mark the centenary of the Zeebrugge raid.
The vital wartime mission took place towards the end of the First Word War and the Mersey Ferries became famous for their role in the daring raid across the Channel.
Scores of service personnel including members of Royal Marines, Royal Navy, and Veterans marched along Wirral’s promenade accompanied by Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Portsmouth (Royal Band).
The ferries were at the centre of the anniversary event which took place on Sunday April 22, reflecting their importance to the vital mission 100 years ago.
Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Ann McLachlan, said described it as “a truly memorable occasion and a significant opportunity for Wirral to remember those who took part in the Zeebrugge Raid”.
The ferries Iris and Daffodil, built in 1906, took part in the top secret attack on Zeebrugge on April 23 1918 which aimed to prevent German U-boats from attacking Allied shipping in the English Channel and the South West Approaches to the UK.
The Mersey ferries were used because they could carry large numbers of Marines and Sailors in shallow waters. Both Iris and Daffodil sustained significant damage in the raid but both managed to return home – although Iris had been hit by numerous shells and just about limped back.
It was for their heroic service that both ferries – and their successors – were awarded the “Royal” designation.
Since the early 1920s – with the exception of the war years – a commemoration service has been held aboard a Wallasey ferry on the Sunday closest to St George’s Day, 23 April.
A short service was held on board the Royal Iris Ferry in which veterans and serving military were present. Towards the end of the service wreaths were thrown into the River Mersey by dignitaries and high ranking officials.
Once the ferry returned to land, a further service was held alongside the Zeebrugge memorial outside Seacombe Ferry Terminal.
Afterwards there was a march down Wirral Promenade towards Wallasey Town Hall, led by the Royal Marines Band Portsmouth and tailed by the Royal British Legion Riders on motorbikes.
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