Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Golden Tribute of Hope

(Top): WAAF Florence May Hunter's name
[Listed in the Whitehaven Remembrance Book]

(Middle): Golden daffodils of hope at her headstone
(Bottom): Hensingham Parish War Memorial.
Photographs: J. Ritson

During WW2 Florence May Hunter of Hensingham Whitehaven served in the WAAF as a medical orderly. During the war she would have helped many sick and injured RAF personnel in the course of her service. Unfortunately, Florence Hunter was also to become a casualty of the war, and only a few weeks before V.E. Day. As can be seen in the middle photograph above golden daffodils that were planted on her grave appear as a tribute to her memory.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information:

Leading Aircraftwoman Florence May Hunter, Service No 2027408 was the daughter of Mr Henry and the late Mrs Hunter of Rosebank, Hensingham, Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria). Florence also left a brother-in-law and sister, Mr and Mrs W. Irving and was well known and loved in her home district. According to the local newspaper, 'The Whitehaven News' (April 1945), "She had many friends in the Hensingham district who held her in high esteem".

At the time of her tragic death on 7 April 1945 Florence was 37 years old. Before the war, Florence had spent 10 years working as a cook at Seatoller House, Borrowdale in the heart of English Lake District. The Lake District is 'Wordsworth Country', the homeland of the former Poet Laureate William Wordsworth. One of Wordsworth's most famous poems is 'The Daffodils' and since Wordsworth's time the daffodil has become one of Cumbria's most popular springtime flowers.

For a time before her death Florence had been stationed at York in northern England. Her mortal remains were brought back to her home district of Hensingham and laid to rest in the local cemetery (Grave Ref: Section F, Grave 49). The CWGC renewed the original headstone in 2009 due to weathering.

The epitaph on Florence Hunter's headstone reads as follows:

"A dear face from our home has gone,
But loving memories linger on".

During WW2 most British towns, villages and districts had "Comforts Funds" to send out a few home comforts to those serving in the Forces and living away from home. Hensingham district had one of these "Comforts Funds". In 1947 the Borough of Whitehaven opened a 'commemoration fund', one of its objectives being to have a memorial plaque listing the names of service men and women who died in the war between 3 September 1939 (the day Britain and France declared war against Germany) and 15 August 1945 (V.J. Day).

The provisional list of names for the WW2 Whitehaven Memorial Plaque appeared in 'The Whitehaven News' on Thursday 13 November 1947. Several names had inadvertently been omitted: one of them being that of Leading Aircraftwoman Florence May Hunter. This was quickly put right by the Secretary of the Hensingham Comforts Fund, Mr R. Bramwell who write to the Town Clerk with details of those from the Hensingham district originally missing off the list. So Florence's name was rightly included on the 'Roll of Honour'. The Borough of Whitehaven 'Book of Remembrance' and Memorial Plaque were finally dedicated in 1953.

Outside St John's, Hensingham Parish Church is a memorial cross dedicated to the memory of parishioners who died in the two World Wars. This can be seen in the lower of the three photographs shown above.


The Parish of St John's Hensingham (Church of England)

Cumbria County Archives (Whitehaven records Office)

'The Whitehaven News'

Saturday, 02 April, 2011  
Blogger Gerald said...

Florence May Hunter died at Scarborough. Her body was found approximately 3 days after her death in woods near Cornelian Bay by farm workers who were hunting foxes.

According to the inquest, she arrived in Scarborough on March 20th and spent most of the next two weeks living rough in the area where her body was found.

Her body was fully clothed and bore no signs of violence. She was found in a sitting posture with her back against a tree. Her shoes and bag were placed neatly by her side. The pathologist concluded that she died as a result of exposure and exhaustion.

Those who knew her, including a senior officer from the station at which she was based, were unable to explain why she left York and went to Scarborough.

Thursday, 09 February, 2012  

Post a Comment

<< Home