HEARTFELT tributes were paid to a distinguished and 'larger-than-life' war veteran from Wirral during his funeral service today.

Mike 'Lofty' Carr, from Oxton - an original member of Long Range Desert Group, an organisation adored by the SAS passed away on April 5 at the age of 101.

More than 50 people, including family and friends, gathered to pay their respects during his funeral service at Landican Cemetery's Central Chapel this morning.

Wirral Globe:

Friends and relatives at Landican Cemetery for Mike Carr's funeral. Pic: Craig Manning

Known as 'Lofty' due to his height, he was a navigator in the LRDG and captured as a prisoner of war.

Wirral Globe:

Mike 'Lofty' Carr. Picture: Oxton Society website

He escaped and walked for hundreds of miles, living off the land, until he was rescued by the American Army.

Wirral Globe:

Photograph of Mike 'Lofty' Carr by Cecil Beaton. Picture provided by Barbara Carr

His career has featured in several history books, including The Long Range Desert Group in World War Two by renowned military historian Gavin Mortimer.

Following war service, Mike later worked in insurance and teaching.

Mike and wife Barbara were also very active members of The Oxton Society and celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 2020.

Wirral Globe:

Mike 'Lofty' Carr and wife Barbara during celebration for their Diamond Wedding Anniversary. Picture: Mathew Mike

Among those paying their respects to Mike at Landican this morning was Ian Chard. He told the Globe: "My father Harry served with him in the desert and, in later years when my father fell ill, I got to know Lofty. I grew up with stories of Lofty all my life, with their adventures in North Africa.

"When I finally contacted Lofty, because I wanted to find more about the unit when my father fell ill, he welcomed me with open arms into the LRDG family, so to speak.

"He shared all of his memories with me. We'd sit down and drink whiskey and laugh into the night with his stories that were both highly humorous and horrible.

"He was an amazing fellow. A larger-than-life figure, well-respected throughout the LRDG community as one of the primary navigators.

"He was man who spurned promotion that he could have had, because he wanted to be one of the men, one of the blokes, and do the job that he wanted to do do.

"He was a man that wouldn't take fools gladly. In later life, a lovely man, very welcoming and willing to share his memories.He became a pacifist in later life, because of his experiences during the war."

Wirral Globe:

David Clarke, a close friend of Mike's, told the Globe recently: "My wife Alison and I were next-door neighbours of Mike and Barbara for nearly 50 years from 1972 to 2021 (when we downsized just round the corner to Willan Street).

"They had lived at no.1 since 1960, the year after they married.

"In 1972 and the the rest of his working life Mike was an art teacher, having retrained as a teacher in his late 40s after a career in insurance before and after the war.

"There are many local people, now middle-aged, who remember him fondly as their art teacher.

"He was a fine artist, particularly of wildlife, but also a potter and wood carver. His house is full of his artwork.

"Barbara was also a teacher, a primary school headteacher in the 1970s and 80s.

"Of course Mike's main claim to fame was his war service in the North African desert in the Long Range Desert Group, the precursor of the SAS.

"He had grown up with an interest in astronomy and became an expert navigator.

"This skill is just as important in the featureless desert as it is at sea.

"The unit worked often behind enemy lines, surveilling and sabotaging the enemy and guiding friendly forces to safety.

"This was highly dangerous work and Mike was eventually captured, transported to prison camp in Poland, from which he eventually escaped and navigated himself on foot across Europe.

"Mike and Barbara were wonderful neighbours and we became firm friends. They helped us a great deal, caring for our house in earlier years when we were away.

"As he became more frail in the last few years, and Barbara cared for him devotedly while growing older herself, Alison or I visited them every day and gave them what support we could.

"We already miss him, and will continue to do all we can to support Barbara."

A tribute from the Oxton Society read: "Our sympathy and condolences go to Barbara who has been a tremendous support to Mike, especially in the last few years when Mike has been less active.

"Mike and Barbara are the longest living Oxton residents having bought their house in Fairclough Lane in 1960.

"They are also the longest serving members of the Society and active throughout.

"Mike performed the switch-on for Oxton’s Xmas lights in 2019 when he was 99 years of age."