103rd Anniversary Service of the sinking of the Lusitania

A short service was held today in the hot Mayday sun.  The service marked 103 years to the day since the sinking of Cunard’s Lusitania.  She was heading for Liverpool from New York when she torpedoed by a German Submarine (U-20).  The sinking dramatically changed the course of  WW1.

The short service was conducted by Rev Dr Crispin Pailing, The Rector of Liverpool Parish Church.  Ian Murphy, Deputy Director of the Maritime Museum, Ellie Moffat, Curator of Maritime Collections also spoke at the service.

Margaret Duggan, who’s Grandfather was lost on the Lusitania also spoke and recounted memories told to her.

After the service people were asked to place any floral tributes down close to the propeller.

Many of the approx 30 attendees had relatives of some sort connected to the Lusitania, also a representative from Cunard placed a wreath.

The view the video of the service see my link below:-

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Zeebrugge Raid Centenary Service

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.

For my photo’s and my video see links below:-

Wreaths at memorial

Video:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WdZS8umwcg

Memorial unveiled to Dunkirk hero who inspired scene in blockbuster film

Spitfire pilot Sgt Jack Potter served over Dunkirk and in the Battle of Britain.

A riverfront memorial to a Second World War hero who inspired a scene in the recent hit film Dunkirk has been unveiled.

Wallasey-born pilot Jack Potter is not mentioned by name but the moment in Christopher Nolan’s movie that a pilot ditches his Spitfire into the sea after an engine seizure is based on his own experience.

Family and friends of the airman, including his son Robert, travelled from as far afield as Australia and Canada for Wednesday’s service on Seacombe Promenade in Wirral, Merseyside.

Mayor of Wirral Cllr Ann McLachlan  joined family members at the unveiling of a memorial to Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot Sergeant Jack Potter, whose story helped to inspire a scene in the Hollywood movie Dunkirk.

He survived the war and later settled in Brighton.

Councillor Jerry Williams, Wirral Council’s “heritage champion”, who traced Mr Potter’s family, said: “He had an illustrious war record.

“At Dunkirk, he destroyed a Messerchmitt. Less than a week later, his engine seized 15 miles from the English coast and he ditched into the sea, later being picked up and landed at Dover.

“During the Battle of Britain, he ditched into the Channel again, (was) picked up by a German vessel and spent the rest of his war in a Prisoner of War Camp.

“Jack survived the war and died in Brighton in 1977. Around this time I was corresponding with Battle of Britain pilots, collecting signatures, and wrote to Jack. Sadly, his relatives said he had just died but they sent me a copy of his signature.”

The stretch of the promenade where the memorial is located has been renamed Jack Potter Walk.

For my photo’s see link below:-

Memorial before the unveiling

WW1 Hero Honoured in Dual Special Ceremony

A commemorative paving stone has been unveiled in memory of Cyril Gourley who was awarded the Victoria Cross during World War One whilst serving with the 276th West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. 
He was born on 19th January 1893 at 6 Victoria Park in Wavertree before moving with his family to West Kirby in 1899 when he was six years old.
Cyril was educated at Calday Grange Grammar School and graduated from Liverpool University in 1913 with a degree in Commercial Science. He then went on to work for the Alfred Holt Shipping Line, who owned the Ocean Steamship Company, known throughout the world as the Blue Funnel Line, before joining the Territorial Army in 1914.
Sgt Cyril Gourley had previously been awarded the Military Medal in September 1917 for conspicuous gallantry in putting out a fire near an ammunition dump, however the action for which he received the Victoria Cross was on 30th November 1917 at Little Priel Farm, east of Epehy, France, during the Battle of Cambrai.
Cyril was only 24 years old, and a Sergeant in the ‘D’ Battery of the 276th West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, and was in command of a section of howitzers during an enemy advance.
When the award of his Victoria Cross was announced in the London Gazette on 13th February 1918, the citation read:
For most conspicuous bravery when in command of a section of howitzers. 
Though the enemy advanced in force, getting within 400 yards in front, between 300 and 400 yards to one flank and with snipers in rear, Sgt. Gourley managed to keep one gun in action practically throughout the day. 
‘Though frequently driven off he always returned, carrying ammunition, laying and firing the gun himself, taking first one and then another of the detachment to assist him. 
When the enemy advanced he pulled his gun out of the pit and engaged a machine gun at 500 yards, knocking it out with a direct hit. 
All day he held the enemy in check, firing with open sights on enemy parties in full view at 300 to 800 yards, and thereby saved his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall. He had previously been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry 
(London Gazette, No. 68/886).
On 5th January 1918, Cyril Gourley was given a commission as Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery and he remained with the 55th Division until its disbandment in 1919. He was then appointed as a Captain in 1919, and proceeded home for demobilization with 276th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, in June 1919.
Post-war, Cyril worked for Lever Brothers, travelling widely to open up new business for the company and in 1925, he moved to Hill Close, School Lane, West Kirby. His house was later renamed Gourley Grange and the Lane was also renamed Gourley’s Lane in his honour. During the Second World War, Gourley was a Firewatcher in Liverpool and then in 1952 he moved to Haslemere, Surrey. He never married and died on 31st January 1982 in Haslemere and was buried in Grange Cemetery, West Kirby.
The Cyril Edward Gourley VC Scholarship is awarded in his honour by Liverpool University to undergraduates from Calday Grange Grammar School, West Kirby Grammar School or the Hoylake and West Kirby area. His VC medal is held at the Royal Artillery Regiment Museum.
The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.  In 2014, the UK government launched a campaign to recognise the First World War centenary commemorations and honour those men awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) during the First World War.
On Thursday 30th November 2017, a commemorative paving stone was unveiled in his honour at Liverpool Parish Church, following the earlier unveiling of a plaque at his graveside at Grange Cemetery in West Kirby.
In attendance was the Rector of Liverpool, Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, army reservists serving with Liverpool-based 208 (3rd West Lancashire) Battery, 103rd (Lancashire Artillery Volunteers) Regiment Royal Artillery, the unit directly descended from the unit with whom Sgt Gourley served.  Both events will also be attended by Sgt Gourley’s nephew, Colin Gourley, who has travelled from Australia, and staff from Calday Grange Grammar School Combined Cadet Force.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said:  “Cyril Gourley was a courageous soldier whose selfless actions saved many lives. He was completely devoted to his duty and Liverpool is incredibly proud of him and this is why the City is honouring him with this fitting ceremony. I am personally privileged to be able to 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.
“Exactly 100 years ago, Cyril fought for the freedom and peace that we all enjoy today. Therefore, we should reflect and give thanks to Cyril and others who gave so much for their country and our liberty.”
Both events will also be attended by Sgt Gourley’s nephew, Colin Gourley, who has travelled from Australia, representatives of Wirral and Liverpool councils and cadets and staff from Calday Grange Grammar School Combined Cadet Force.
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Edwards RA, Commanding Officer 103rd (Lancashire Artillery Volunteers) Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “Along with Wirral and Liverpool Councils, who have enabled this commemoration, the Regiment is honoured to mark this act of valour and recognise all those who have served and still serve in the British Army.  We are even more proud to do so with Sgt Gourley’s nephew, Mr Colin Gourley.”
For Pics see 2 links below:-
Grange Cemetery Service:-
Liverpool Parish Church Service:-

World War One Victoria Cross hero honoured

A commemorative paving stone has been unveiled in Liverpool in memory of 2nd Lt Stanley Henry Parry Boughey who was awarded the Victoria Cross during World War One whilst serving with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1/4th Battalion. 

 It is the last of 10 paving stones to be installed in Liverpool as part of a scheme launched by the Government to recognise those British and Commonwealth forces awarded the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry, as part of commemorations to mark the centenary of the First World War.
Stanley Boughey was born on 9th April 1896 at 3 Danube Street in Toxteth Park, before moving with his family to Blackpool in 1905. Stanley was educated at Clifton College and in 1908 he co-founded the Hound Patrol of the Boy Scout movement, which together with the Lion Patrol became the 1st Blackpool Scout Troop. Before the war, Stanley was a keen athlete and was also a member of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade, however when war was declared in 1914, he went to France and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps at only 18 years of age.
In May 1916 Stanley joined the Ayrshire Yeomanry as a Private and then in April 1917 he joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1/4th Battalion, as a Second Lieutenant.
The action for which Stanley Boughey received his Victoria Cross took place on 1st December 1917 at El Burf, Palestine, during the Battle of Jerusalem, whilst serving with The Royal Scots Fusiliers. Unfortunately Stanley was mortally wounded at the point of surrender. Therefore Stanley’s Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously.
When the award of his Victoria Cross was announced in the London Gazette on 12th February 1918, the citation read:
“For most conspicuous bravery. When the enemy in large numbers had managed to crawl up to within 30 yards of our firing line, and with bombs and automatic rifles were keeping down the fire of our machine guns, he rushed forward alone with bombs right up to the enemy, doing great execution and causing the surrender of a party of 30. As he turned to go back for more bombs he was mortally wounded at the moment when the enemy were surrendering.”
   
On Friday 1st December 2017, a commemorative paving stone was unveiled in his honour at Princes Park in Toxteth.
The event was attended by relatives, The Rector of Liverpool, Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, the Deputy County Commissioner of Merseyside Scouts and military representatives from the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “Stanley Boughey was a courageous soldier whose selfless actions saved many lives. He was completely devoted to his duty and Liverpool is incredibly proud of him and this is why the City is honouring him with this fitting ceremony. I am personally privileged to be able to 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. Exactly 100 years ago, Stanley fought and sacrificed his own life for the freedom and peace that we all enjoy today. Therefore, we should reflect and give thanks to Stanley and others who gave so much for their country and our liberty.”
For photo’s of the event, see link below:-

Thousands gather across Merseyside for Remembrance Sunday

Thousands of people came out across Merseyside to pay their respects to the fallen on Remembrance Sunday .

Despite bitterly cold weather, huge crowds were there for Liverpool’s commemoration, centred around the Centotaph at St George’s Hall with service personnel, local dignitaries and veterans marching through the city to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

This year’s service was especially poignant as it focused on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendale.

Joey the life size puppet from the National Theatre’s production of War Horse was at the service – to recognise the importance horses played in the infamous battle.

Representatives from all faiths helped to lead the service at the plateau, with Danielle Louise Thomas leading the crowds in singing the National Anthem.

Following the Last Post and the two minute silence, thousands of petals cascaded down from St George’s Hall in a very moving display.

For photo’s see the link below:-

Salute

 

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