A rose in the river

In 1945 the Labour government deported hundreds of Chinese seamen from Liverpool. Thousands had been brought to the UK to support the war effort and risked their lives on British ships. Many married and started families. Wives and children were left desperate as fathers and husbands were picked up by the police and deported. This shameful act is commemorated by a Plaque at the LIverpool waterfront.

The following is from my second novel The Morning After. Four young boys think the police are after them as the walk along the river Mersey . The boys are talking about the power of the police.

“If they wanna get you, they will. They can do anything they like,” said Jaime.
“No, they can’t,” Vinny objected. “It doesn’t work like that.”

“Yeah, it does. When they came for my grandad, there was nothing anyone could do.”

“What do you mean, came for him?” asked Sammo.

“One day, he was here, next day gone. That’s what my mum told us. She was only young. She remembers him, but not much. She always talks about him. So she tells us, ‘be careful of the police they can do what they want.’”

“Did he do something?” Vinny asked.

“No, he was a sailor. A Chinese sailor. He came over during the war. A lot of them did. Worked on the boats cos all the English men was off fighting and that. Not just him. There were loads, hundreds of Chinese sailors.”

“Let’s have rest,” Vinny announced.He moved off the track to the grassy area near the airport fence.

“Who made you the boss?” Macca asked.

“This did,” said Vinny, holding out the watch.

Macca slumped to the ground. “Whatever.”

They sat, backs against the chain-link fence, looking across to Ellesmere Port.

“Did your ma see him again?” Sammo asked.

“Nah, right after the war, it was. The police come and took some men from houses, put them on a ship. But me mam said her dad just disappeared, went off to do a job never came back.”

“He probably just left ran off with a tart,” said Macca.

“Like Vinny’s dad.”

Vinny was silent, his face flushed. For the first time, he realised no one believed his story about his dad dying in the war. A wave of shame washed over him. He dug his fingers into the earth. FuckMacca, what a twat.

“Nah, they were Shanghaied,” said Jaime.

“What’s that?” asked Sammo.


“Who’s talking about pirate shit now,” said Macca.

“It’s not shit. It’s real. You can see the photo in me mam’s. A Chinese sailor and a baby, the baby’s me mam. It’s got a date on it. Me mam and me nan go down the pier head every year on that day to throw a flower, a rose or something in the river.”

“What for?”

“To remember him, I guess. He came from the river, and when they took him, he went out through the river.”

“Fuck, that’s not right,” said Vinny.

“That’s shit,” Sammo agreed.

“Yeah, well, it shows if they want to do something, they can,” Jaime said.

* Although not widely discussed or known about there is a plaque at the Pier Head commemorating these events.

If you liked this join the Facebook Group group for my upcoming novel Under The Bridge out in January 2021.

Published by jackbyrnewriter


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