More than one hundred years after World War One began and 95 years since George E Keats died on a Great War battlefield in France, his name is to be added to an Ellesmere Port war memorial.
George was only 14 when he lied about his age to join the army and serve his country in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. The Keats family had moved to Ellesmere Port from Walsall to work in the iron industry and George, from Victoria Road, is buried at the cemetery at Christ Church in a military grave. But his name was never added on to the war memorial.
In a special ceremony led by Reverend Gordon McGuinness, with many veterans and representatives of veteran groups present, wreaths were laid by Mayor of Ellesmere Port Councillor Brian Jones, Chair of the local branch of the Royal British Legion Chris Williams, and family member Ray Wardle.
Susan Wardle, an active member of the local branch of the Normandy Veterans Association, at the request of Ray Wardle, a nephew of George E Keats, contacted Councillor Brian Jones and the Council agreed to add his name to the memorial.
Councillor Jones, who led the wreath laying ceremony, said: “It was with great respect that I could lay a wreath in honour of George E Keats, whose name has finally been added to the memorial.
“It was good to see so many people present at the ceremony, including members of his family. It just goes to show that we in Ellesmere Port never forget those people who have served us.”
Executive Member for Culture and Economy, Councillor Stuart Parker, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to help the family by adding the name of George E Keats to the memorial.
“Now all who visit can see that Ray’s uncle was also among those who lost their lives fighting for their country. In these centenary years of the Great War it is especially important to keep commemorating lives lost.”
This is the third name to be added to Ellesmere Port’s war memorials in the past few years. Last year the names of A. Lilley and S. Taylor were added to the war memorial on Civic Square. The projects have been funded from the Council’s town centre improvement budget.
Local councillor, Pat Merrick, said: “George Keats gave his life for his country nearly a hundred years ago and I am pleased that Ellesmere Port residents and visitors will now recognise the sacrifice he made as his name is added to the memorial for all to see for many years to come.”
Member of the local branch of the Normandy Veterans Association, Susan Wardle, said: “Thank you to everyone who has been involved in getting George Ernest Keats’ name put on the cenotaph at Christ Church. At last in his place of honour.”
Service: Left to right: Reverend Gordon McGuiness; Ray Wardle (nephew of George E. Keats); John Dennit (who said the exhortation); Mayor of Ellesmere Port, Councillor Brian Jones; Susan Wardle (carrying the Royal British Legion Little Sutton standard); Gordon Kipps (carrying Cheshire Regiment standard); Gordon Jones carrying Normandy Veterans Association standard and Collin Simpson carrying Royal British Legion Ellesmere Port standard.