THIS is the story of a Blackburn lad, who served in two world wars, went to live in America and became an award-winning crime writer.

One of his stories appeared in an Alfred Hitchcock magazine of mystery tales in 1970.

Patrick O'Keeffe, who spent his life at sea, was born in 1898 in Blackburn.

His father was a leading egg importer and retailer, and his mother had a grocer's shop on the corner of Pearson Street and King Street, opposite Cupals factory.

He had two brothers, Joseph who was killed in the First World War and James, who lived in Blackburn until his death aged 79.

There was also a sister called Ivy, who worked as a nurse at Queen Mary's Military Hospital, created at Calderstones, Whalley, during the war, who married a Canadian officers she met on the wards.

During the First World War, Patrick joined the Navy when he was 16 and served three years aboard a destroyer in the North Sea, as a wireless telegraphist officer.

Later he transferred to American-owned, British flag freighters operating out of USA ports, and eventually to United Front passenger ships as chief radio officer.

Patrick was married to Cathleen, the daughter of Doctor Bradley, who lived and had his surgery at the corner of Freckleton Street and King Street, Blackburn. Their one son was a surgeon in the USA.

During the Second World War, he served on troop, ammunition and meat ships, chartered to the US Army Transport Service which ran war cargoes alone in convoy to the Caribbean, North Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

It was while he was at sea that Patrick began writing sea adventure stories which were accepted in magazines.

He then turned to mysteries, writing crime stories, which made the honour rolls of the best detective stories of the year.

A story appeared in one anthology by Harper and Row, as well as Hitchcock's monthly magazine, and were broadcast on radio.

Patrick was drafted on to the board of the Mystery Writers of America Inc. whose members and past presidents included Ellery Queen, Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and John Creasey.

This photograph, which shows Patrick on the right, was taken at an awards banquet in the Hotel Park Sheraton, New York, in 1969, for the Veteran Wireless Operators Association.