Wirral author's tribute to victims of wartime-related River Mersey tragedies

Wirral Globe: Carl and Rose Leckie with their plaques in Victoria Road, New Brighton Carl and Rose Leckie with their plaques in Victoria Road, New Brighton

A WIRRAL author has helped produce a series of plaques that pay tribute to victims of wartime-related tragedies on the River Mersey.

Carl Leckie MBE, a former mate on the Mersey Tugboats has worked with wife Rose on the plaques, which will be placed at appropriate points along the River Mersey to commemorate fatalities on the river from Service and civilian life.

Detailing local events that led to the tragedies, they will initially be placed along the riverfront from New Brighton to Seacombe.

They have been funded by Mr Leckie using royalties from his book sales.

Mr Leckie, who lives in New Brighton, retired from his job with British Waterways in 1995.

He was awarded the MBE for services to the industry in the same year.

On the plaque project he said: "During wartime the Irish Sea and the approaches to the River Mersey were a hunting ground for U-boats and enemy bombers.

"The public will be surprised when the plaques reveal how many ships were sunk and how many crew members lost their lives in the Mersey when they finally reached what they presumed to be a safe haven.

"There is a tragic story behind every ship sunk. Many of the casualties' remains were never recovered.

"The plaques will indicate the war graves of these lost crew members.

"It is my sincere hope the plaques will make the public aware of the great sacrifice these brave crew members made on their behalf despite the facts they were classed by the government as civilians."

As well as wartime fatalities, there will also be plaques remembering others who died on tugs in accidents and major incidents during peacetime on the Mersey.

Mr Leckie is particularly keen to commemorate the sacrifices of the Merchant Navy, who he says are often overlooked.

"The plaques will be placed along the river as near as possible to where the tragedies took place.

"They will commemorate the memory of the merchant seamen, both British and foreign, tugboat crews and all other dock and river workers that risked and sometimes lost their lives in war and peace, while following their lawful employment on this great River Mersey.

Interestingly, of the plaques commemorates the loss of the Irish Ferry Innisfallen and its crew, and Mr Leckie has been contacted by Gillian Kelly, the great grandaughter of Joseph Rickard, one of the men who died in the tragedy.

Gillian said: "My family are thrilled that Carl and Rose have taken so much of their time and energy in creating these momuments.

"I just happened to do some research a couple of weeks ago and discovered that Carl was erecting the momument to the Innisfallen.

"My grandfather, who is now 91, is delighted that after all this time someone remembers his father and that this monument will mark the graves of the people who died in the tragedy.

"It means a lot to him and all the family and we cannot thank Carl and Rose enough," she added.

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