Mersey Ferries to honour centenary anniversary of Zeebrugge Raid

HMS Iris later named Royal Iris played a crucial part in the WWI raid and the name has been retained to use with later vessel

A CEREMONY and parade to mark the 100 year anniversary of the Zeebrugge Raid – a daring attempt to blockade German forces at the Belgian port during World War One – will take place along the River Mersey this weekend.

Honouring the critical wartime mission, which took place towards the end of the First World War, the ferries will be at the centre of the anniversary event taking place on Sunday April 22, 2018, in recognition of the vital role they played in a top secret mission.

Following a short wreath laying service on the River Mersey, there will be a Centenary Service at the Zeebrugge Memorial Stone at the Seacombe Ferry Terminal at 11.00am.

Service personnel including members of the Royal Marines, Royal Navy, and other military veterans will be in attendance, and with members of the local community also invited to attend the service.

An exhibition for the public, by the Wirral Historic Society on Monday April 23 will also take place at Seacombe Ferry Terminal from 11.00am until 1.00pm.

“The Mersey Ferries have an incredible legacy, and we’re very honoured to be involved in such an important commemoration,” said Gary Evans of Mersey Ferries. “The HMS Iris and HMS Daffodil received their “Royal” statuses in recognition of this daring World War One raid, so we’re proud to pay tribute to not only to their role, but to the brave servicemen and women who risked everything.”

“The Zeebrugge Raid was hailed as a major triumph in the Allied campaign’s war effort, and these two commemorative events give us an opportunity to remember all those people involved in World War One. We would welcome members of the public joining us at the Seacombe service to pay their respects.”

The Mersey Ferries received Royal statuses for their role in the courageous Zeebrugge Raid, which saw them sail across the Channel to take part in a top-secret attack on the coastal Belgian port. The ferries Iris and Daffodil, built in 1906, were aiming to prevent German U-boats from attacking Allied shipping boats in the English Channel and the South Western approaches to the UK.

The ferries were chosen because of their double hulls and low draught in the water, meaning they could carry large numbers of marines and sailors to the heart of the action.

Both ferries were awarded the ‘Royal’ prefix, a unique distinction, which recognises their contribution to the raid. Whilst both vessels sustained significant damage, they made the journey home to Liverpool be reconditioned before returning to normal duties after the war.