Hearty tributes were paid to a distinguished and ‘larger than life’ Wirral war veteran during his memorial service today.
Mike “Lofty” Carr of Oxton – an original member of the Long Range Desert Group, an organization revered by the SAS, died April 5 at the age of 101.
More than 50 people, including family and friends, gathered this morning to pay their respects during his funeral service in the central chapel at Landican Cemetery.
Friends and relatives at Landican Cemetery for the funeral of Mike Carr. Image: Craig Manning
Known as “Lofty” due to his size, he was a navigator in the LRDG and was captured as a prisoner of war.
Mike “Lofty” Carr. Image: Oxton Society website
He escaped and walked hundreds of kilometers, living off the earth until rescued by the American army.
Photo of Mike ‘Lofty’ Carr by Cecil Beaton. Image provided by Barbara Carr
His career has been featured in several history books including The Long Range Desert Group in World War II by the renowned military historian Gavin Mortimer.
After military service, Mike later worked in the insurance industry and in teaching.
Mike and his wife Barbara have also been very active members of the Oxton Society and celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 2020.
Mike “Lofty” Carr and wife Barbara during the diamond wedding anniversary celebrations. Image: Mathew Mike
Among those who paid their respects to Mike at Landican this morning was Ian Chard. He told that globe: “My father Harry ministered with him in the desert and in later years when my father fell ill I met Lofty. I’ve grown up hearing stories of Lofty all my life, with her adventures in North Africa.
“When I finally contacted Lofty to learn more about the unit when my father fell ill, he kind of welcomed me into the LRDG family with open arms.
“He shared all his memories with me. We sat down, drank whiskey and laughed into the night with his stories, which were both highly humorous and terrifying.
“He was an amazing guy. A larger than life figure, highly regarded throughout the LRDG community as one of the most important navigators.
“He was a man who turned down a promotion that he could have had because he wanted to be one of the men, one of the guys, and do the job he wanted to do.
“He was a man who did not like to be taken for fools. A lovely man in later life, very hospitable and willing to share his memories. Because of his experiences during the war, he became a pacifist later in life.”
David Clarke, a close friend of Mike’s, recently told the Globe: “My wife Alison and I were neighbors to Mike and Barbara for almost 50 years from 1972 to 2021 (when we downsized just around the corner on Willan Street).
“They had lived at No. 1 since 1960, the year after they got married.
“In 1972 and the rest of his professional life, Mike was an art teacher, having converted to teaching in his late 40s after a career in pre- and post-war insurance.
“There are many local people, now middle-aged, who fondly remember him as their art teacher.
“He was a fine artist, particularly of wildlife, but also a potter and woodcarver. His house is full of his works of art.
“Barbara was also a teacher, principal in the 1970s and 80s.
“Mike’s main claim to fame was, of course, his military service in the North African desert in the Long Range Desert Group, the forerunner of the SAS.
“He grew up with an interest in astronomy and became a skilled navigator.
“This ability is just as important in the featureless desert as it is at sea.
“The unit often worked behind enemy lines, monitoring and sabotaging the enemy and guiding friendly troops to safety.
“This was extremely dangerous work and Mike was eventually captured and transported to a prison camp in Poland from which he eventually escaped and navigated through Europe on foot.
“Mike and Barbara were wonderful neighbors and we became firm friends. They helped us a lot by looking after our house in previous years when we were away.
“As he became increasingly frail over the last few years and Barbara devotedly cared for him as she got older, Alison or I visited them every day and gave them as much support as we could.
“We already miss him and will continue to do everything we can to support Barbara.”
A tribute from the Oxton Society said: “Our sympathy and condolences go out to Barbara, who has been a tremendous support to Mike, especially over the past few years when Mike has been less active.
“Mike and Barbara are the longest living residents of Oxton having bought their home on Fairclough Lane in 1960.
“They are also the longest-serving members of society and are consistently active.
“Mike turned on the Oxton Christmas lights in 2019 at the age of 99.”