Hartlepool’s naval museum presented with a history of minesweepers

Author Ian Mackie with his book. Picture by Frank Reid.
Author Ian Mackie with his book. Picture by Frank Reid.

A pensioner is showing what can be achieved by dementia sufferers by writing a book about minesweepers after his dad was killed on one in the Second World War.

Ian Mackie, 82, went along to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool, where he handed over a copy of his book for the archives.

Author Ian Mackie and wife Mary with his book. Picture by Frank Reid.

Author Ian Mackie and wife Mary with his book. Picture by Frank Reid.

Despite being diagnosed with dementia in 2001, Ian has continued to live life to the full.

His book The Mine That Became A Bridge follows the life of his family after his father, James Mackie, was killed on a minesweeper.

The aim of the British Yard Minesweeper vessels was for the Royal Navy to clear routes in the Mediterranean.

But sadly Ian’s dad, a chief engineer on board BYMS 2077, was killed when the boat was mined in the Gulf of Corinth in October 1944.

I could not have done it without the help and support of the wellbeing community

Ian Mackie

Ian, a former member of the 2nd Field Rifle Artillery, was just eight at the time, and his mother was left to raise four children.

After more than two years of research into the minesweepers and even a visit to Greece, Ian felt he had enough information to write the book.

In the foreword, he says: “This story is a tribute to those who fought for their country and allies in World War Two by the hazardous operations of minesweeping.”

Ian, who lives in Stockton with his wife Mary, and has a daughter and two grandchildren, said writing the book has been a labour of love.

He said: “I could not have done it without the help and support of the wellbeing community which the elderly are now able to benefit from.”

The Durham University alumnus, who worked as a maths teacher until his retirement, said he couldn’t thank all the groups that have supported him enough, including the Stockton-on Tees Borough Council Livewell Dementia Hub team, Dementia Voices, SSAFA County Durham and the Billingham branch of the Royal British Legion.

Lucy McCormack, from Dementia Voices Stockton, said Ian has had about 400 copies of the book printed, thanks to Billingham Press.

He has been sending them to museums around the country so they can let anyone interested in the story of the minesweepers read it.

She said: “He used to come in with all these reams and reams of paper from his research and we thought wouldn’t it be nice for him to put it down in a proper book.

“He said working on this project is what has kept him going.”

Lucy said Ian is a glowing example of how life with dementia can be lived well, he has even given a speech at the national dementia conference in Manchester.