Hundreds gather in Wirral to remember Zeebrugge

RETIRED Royal Marines from across the country have marked the 91st anniversary of one of The First World War's most heroic raids.

On Sunday, about 400 people attended the Zeebrugge memorial ceremony at Seacombe Ferry terminal, which was followed by a service on board the Royal Daffodil.

Wreathes were laid at the Seacombe Zeebrugge memorial by Wirral's mayor, cllr Adrian Jones, Colonel Sir David Trippier of the Royal Marine Reserves and Mr Scales.

The wreathes were later thrown into the Mersey from the Royal Daffodil as buglers sounded The Last Post.

The Zeebrugge raid was a landing aimed to block an outlet for German U-boats and destroyers by sinking old cruisers and blockading a channel at Zeebrugge.

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

The Mersey ferries played their part, with the original Daffodil and Iris acting as landing craft for marines and tugboats to HMS Vindictive.

They both came under heavy fire and as a result of their action King George V awarded them the title of "Royal" ferries, a unique distinction that remains to this day.

Commenting on Sunday's ceremony, Neil Scales, chief executive of Merseytravel which helps organise the annual ceremony, reflected: "It is always an extremely moving occasion.

"The Mersey Ferries and the Royal Marines forged an historic link at Zeebrugge and the bravery of so many men is something which we will ensure is never forgotten."