A fitting tribute to Fleetwood’s fallen heroes

Barbara MacDonald and Terry Rogers from Wyre Council with Thomas Norton
Barbara MacDonald and Terry Rogers from Wyre Council with Thomas Norton

The salt air and the lashing wind and rain showed little respect for the 91 gravestones of Fleetwood’s war dead in the town’s cemetery over the years.

Many of these headstones became so worn, it was almost impossible to see the names of the men buried below.

New headstones for fallen soldiers at Fleetwood Cemetary

New headstones for fallen soldiers at Fleetwood Cemetary

But all that has changed after a stirring campaign in the town to ensure the fallen were accorded due respect.

It has culminated in around 80 per cent of these headstones, except those still in good condition, being replaced with gleaming, durable marble stones thanks to an investment of thousands of pounds.

In addition, Fleetwood Cemetery has now been designated official war graves status by the War Graves Commission, the body which oversees the graves of British and Commonwealth combatants lost in times of war.

The Commission agreed to get the work done and covered the cost of the enterprise after being contacted by Terry Rogers, Wyre’s Armed Forces Champion, and Fleetwood’s former MP, Eric Ollerenshaw.

A lot of them were illegible because the old Portland stone had just worn away

This week Mr Rogers, who is also chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, said it was a fitting tribute to those who gave up their lives.

He said: “It is very unusual for a town the size of Fleetwood to have a cemetery with official war graves status, but that is what we now have.

“It was such a shame to see the condition of so many of those headstones.

“A lot of them were illegible because the old Portland stone had just worn away.

New headstones for fallen soldiers at Fleetwood Cemetary

New headstones for fallen soldiers at Fleetwood Cemetary

“Now all of the stones which needed replacing are in pristine condition and bear the proper insignias or navy anchors. We are talking about a long period of history – people who died in the Zulu War, the Crimea, the First and Second World Wars and right up to Afghanistan.”

He added: “I would like to pass on my thanks to Eric Ollerenshaw who played a key role in getting this work done.”

Fleetwood resident Tom Norton’s brother Ernest was among those with a new headstone on his grave. Ernest was tragically killed, aged just 18, in a war-time accident during a special training session.

Tom said: “They have done an excellent job.”