Sunday, March 09, 2014

Lowca Village War Memorial, Cumbria

 1. Terraced houses at Lowca village, Cumbria
2. Lowca village War Memorial, Cumbria 
 3. Names listed on Lowca village War Memorial
(World War One and World War Two)
4. Lowca War Memorial commemorative tablet (2008)
For additional information click on 'Comments' below.
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9 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Some events in Lowca village in the World Wars

Lowca is a relatively small village and civil parish close to the West Cumbrian coast with views of the Solway Firth, the Irish Sea, the Galloway hills and the Isle of Man. Until 1934 it formed part of the civil parish of Harrington. It was at this time that the much larger village of Harrington to the north was transferred to the Borough of Workington that Lowca attained its status as a civil parish.

For much of the 19th and 20th Centuries Lowca was a hive of heavy industry, largely based upon coal extraction and iron production. The respected steam engine and locomotive manufacturers Tulk and Ley (later Fletcher, Jennings & Co.) were based at Lowca for many years. A number of coal mines were located at Lowca extracting much of its coal production from seams under the sea. Many of the terraced houses built to house the miners and their families at Lowca can still be seen in the middle of the village [Photograph No. 1].

Shortly before the First World War, in 1911, a toluene chemical works was established at Lowca by the Workington Iron and Steel Company. Engineers from the German form of Koppers helped design and commission the tar plant. The Lowca works and the potential use of synthetic toluene out of benzene was well known to the Germans. Although Lowca is on the far N.W. coast of England, on 16 August 1915 the German submarine U-24 surfaced a little to the south of Lowca and began to shell the chemical works.

To convince the Germans they had succeeded in destroying the plant, a valve operator, Mr Oscar Ohlson, released flaming gas into the atmosphere. It is believed the only casualty was a dog hit by a stray shell splinter. Many local people believed that a high-born German woman married to a former Member of Parliament for the local area (Whitehaven) was behind the attack and had been signalling the U-Boat from her nearby home. This high-born German woman was Mrs Hildegarde Burnyeat (née Retzlaff) had remained strongly pro-German after the declaration of war in 1914 and had alienated much of the local population because of this stance. Her husband, Mr William John Dalzell Burnyeat, M.A. (Liberal Party), had been Member of Parliament for Whitehaven between 1906 and 1910.

Following this incident, Mrs Hildegarde Burnyeat was arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act. She was initially interned at Aylesbury prison, Buckinghamshire. William Burnyeat died the following year, while his wife was still imprisoned. She was subsequently released and lived with a British family in the spa town of Harrogate, Yorkshire.

The Germans did not attack Lowca during WW2. However, the possibility of an attack was taken into account and appropriate plans made to counter-act such a venture. Firstly, there was a Home Guard platoon based at Lowca and secondly there were two Royal Artillery guns placed on the nearby cliff-top between Lowca and Whitehaven to the south (422nd Coast-Battery of the 561st Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery).

Shortly after WW2, in 1946, most of the early footage of the Crown Film Unit's "Cumberland Story" was filmed at one of the Lowca collieries. "Cumberland Story" was directed by the celebrated wartime film director Humphrey Jennings, whose other films include "London Can Take It" and "Fires Were Started" (about the London Blitz), "The Silent Village" (about the wartime destruction of the Czech village of Lidice) and "The True Story of Lili Marlene" (about the wartime German song).

Also in 1946, one of the miners working at Lowca No 11 colliery, Mr Tom Ritson, was selected to represent the Cumberland miners at the WW2 Victory March in London. At the time, Tom Ritson was the Branch Secretary of the miners union. He had also served in the Home Guard during the war.

The remainder of this article deals mainly with the war memorial and those who are commemorated on it.
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Sunday, 09 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Lowca War Memorial

The Lowca village war memorial [Photograph No. 2] is situated close to the main road passing through the centre of the village. The names of the villagers who lost their lives in the First and Second World War are engraved on the front of the memorial [Photograph No. 3]. Until 2008, it as located near the Methodist chapel in the village when it was moved to its present site. This fact is recorded by a tablet on the plinth of the memorial [Photograph No. 4].

There are fifteen names listed on the memorial: ten fro the First World War and five from the Second World War. The wording on the memorial is as follows:

"Erected by
The inhabitants of Lowca
To the Memory of those
Who fell in the Great War
1914 - 1918

Pte. S. Agnew, 7th Border Regt.
Pte. J. Boyles, 7th Border Regt.
Pte. C. Johnston, 7th Border Regt.
Pte. W. Jackson, 7th Border Regt.
Pte. J. Moore, 7th Border Regt.
Pte. S. Mellon, 7th Border Regt.
Pte. W. Tweddle, 7th Border Regt.
Pte. J. Tweddle, 11th Border Regt.
Pte. R. Burns, King's Own Royal Lanc. Regt.
Pte. T. McClellan, Seaforth Highlanders.

1939 - 1945

Sgt. J.A. Bell, R.A.F.
Spr. R. Messenger, R.E.
Sgt. J.W. Spiers, Gren. Gds.
Sgt. T. Vernon, R.A.C.
A.C.2. E. Watson, R.A.F."
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Sunday, 09 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

WW2 casualties: CWGC citations

Below are the Commonwealth War Graves Commission citations for Lowca's WW2 casualties:

1. Sergeant Joseph Ashbridge BELL, R.A.F.V.R.

Name: BELL, JOSEPH ASHBRIDGE
Rank: Sergeant
Trade: Wireless Operator
Service No: 2209924
Date of Death: 18/05/1945
Age: 20
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Grave Reference: Row 6. Grave 11.
Cemetery: MORESBY (ST. BRIDGET) CHURCHYARD, Cumberland

Additional Information:
Son of Joseph Ashbridge Bell and Georgina Bell, of Lowca.
................................

2. Sapper Robinson MESSENGER, R.E.

Name: MESSENGER, ROBINSON
Rank: Sapper
Service No: 2008402
Date of Death: 03/02/1944
Age: 27
Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, 501 Field Coy.
Grave Reference: III, F, 6.
Cemetery: ANZIO WAR CEMETERY, Italy

Additional Information:
Son of James and Annie Messenger, of Lowca, Cumberland.
....................................

3. Lance Serjeant Joseph William Spiers, Grenadier Guards

Name: SPIERS, JOSEPH WILLIAM
Rank: Lance Serjeant
Service No: 2616535
Date of Death: 08/03/1945
Age: 26
Regiment/Service: Grenadier Guards, 1st Bn.
Grave Reference: 43. A. 3.
Cemetery: REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY, germany

Additional Information:
Son of William and Sarah Spiers; husband of Elsie Spiers, of Prospect, Cumberland.
....................................

4. Lance Serjeant Thomas VERNON, R.A.C.

Name: VERNON, THOMAS
Rank: Lance Serjeant
Service No: 7906359
Date of Death: 18/07/1944
Age: 26
Regiment/Service: Royal Armoured Corps,
141st (7th Bn. The Buffs [Royal East Kent Regt.]) Regt.
Grave Reference: I. D. 24.
Cemetery: BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY, France

Additional Information:
Son of William and Jane Ellen Vernon;
Husband of Nora Vernon, of Morpeth, Northumberland.
...................................

5. Leading Aircraftman Edward WATSON, R.A.F.V.R.
(assumed to be the correct casualty on the Lowca memorial)

Name: WATSON, EDWARD
Rank: Aircraftman 1st Class
Service No: 1490237
Date of Death: 18/07/1943
Age: 20
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Grave Reference: Row 5. Grave 3.
Cemetery: DOWNHAM MARKET CEMETERY, Norfolk.

Additional Information:
Son of Edward and Elizabeth Ann Watson, of Seaton, Workington. Cumberland.
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Sunday, 09 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

WW1 casualties: CWGC citations

For completeness - and because there is a relatively small number of WW1 casualties connected to Lowca - the Commonwealth War Graves Commission citations are given below (including one casualty not listed on the village memorial for some reason):

1. Private Samuel Agnew, 7th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: AGNEW, SAMUEL
Rank: Private
Service No: 23771
Date of Death: 23/04/1917
Age: 25
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 7th Bn.
Panel Reference: Bay 6.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL, France.

Additional Information:
Son of Annie Agnew, of 15, West Row, Lowca, Whitehaven, Cumberland, and the late James Agnew.
.............................

2. Private Joseph Boyles, 7th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: BOYLES, JOSEPH
Rank: Private
Service No: 14818
Date of Death: 05/09/1915
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 7th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 35.
Memorial: YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL, Belgium

Additional Information:
Son of John and Mary Boyles, of 8, East Croft Terrace, Lowca, Whitehaven, Cumberland.
...........................

3. Private Charles Johnston, 7th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: JOHNSTON, CHARLES
Rank: Private
Service No: 12801
Date of Death: 04/08/1916
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 7th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 6 A and 7 C.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, France

Additional Information:
(None listed)
..........................

4. Private William Jackson, 7th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: JACKSON, WILLIAM
Rank: Private
Service No: 14830
Date of Death: 27/03/1916
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, "C" Coy. 7th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 6.
Memorial: PLOEGSTEERT MEMORIAL, Belgium

Additional Information:
Son of Thomas and Jane Jackson, of 3, Meadow View, Lowca, Cumberland.
.........................

5. Private John J. Moore, 7th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: MOORE, JOHN JAMES
Rank: Private
Service No: 39526
Date of Death: 21/09/1918
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, B "Coy". 7th (Westmorland and Cumberland) Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 6.
Memorial: VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL, France

Additional Information:
Son of John and Elizabeth Moore.
................................

6. Private Stanley Mellon, 7th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: MELLON, STANLEY
Rank: Private
Service No: 14839
Date of Death: 02/05/1916
Age: 29
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 7th Bn.
Grave Reference: II. D. 1.
Cemetery: BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, NORD, France

Additional Information:
Son of Richard Mellon, of Lowca, Whitehaven, Cumberland.
..............................

7. Private William Tweddle, 7th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: TWEDDLE, WILLIAM
Rank: Private
Service No: 12732
Date of Death: 23/04/1917
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 7th Bn.
Panel Reference: Bay 6.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL, France

Additional Information:
(None listed)
...........................

8. Private James Tweddle, 11th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: TWEDDLE, JAMES
Rank: Private
Service No: 15532
Date of Death: 01/07/1916
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 11th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 6 A and 7 C.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, France

Additional Information:
(None listed)
..............................

9. Private R. Burns, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)

Name: BURNS, R
Rank: Private
Service No: 18166
Date of Death: 16/08/1916
Regiment/Service: King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), 8th Bn.
Grave Reference: XIII. D. 10.
Cemetery: GUILLEMONT ROAD CEMETERY, GUILLEMONT, France

Additional Information:
(None listed)
...........................

10. Private T. McClellan, Seaforth Highlanders

Name: McCLELLAN, T
Rank: Private
Service No: S/8326
Date of Death: 10/05/1916
Regiment/Service: Seaforth Highlanders, 8th Bn.
Grave Reference: III. G. 11.
Cemetery: VERMELLES BRITISH CEMETERY, France

Additional Information:
(None listed)
.........................

Sunday, 09 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The following WW1 casualty has a Lowca address but is not listed on the war memorial. He is buried in the nearby Moresby Churchyard:

11. Private George Edward WHITEHEAD, 12th Bn., Border Regiment

Name: WHITEHEAD, GEORGE EDWARD
Rank: Private
Service No: 25012
Date of Death: 16/11/1918
Age: 23
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 12th Bn.
[Transferred to (373345) 538th Agricultural Coy. Labour Corps]
Grave Reference: In West part.
Cemetery: MORESBY (ST. BRIDGET) CHURCHYARD, Cumberland

Additional Information:
Son of Ralph and Annie Whitehead, of Harrington Hill, Lowca, Whitehaven.
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Sunday, 09 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Dedication

This article is dedicated to the memory of the villagers of Lowca who lost their lives in the two World Wars.

“"This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever.”
[Exodus 12: 14]
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Sunday, 09 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further reading

For further reading about some of the WW1 and WW2 stories connected to Lowca, click on the following links:

(a) The German U-Boat shelling of Lowca in 1915:
The German bombing of Lowca in WW1 ('Whitehaven News' article)

(b) Humphrey Jenning's "Cumberland Story" (BBC "People's War" article):
'Cumberland Story', 1946 Crown Film Unit

(c) Cumberland Miners' Representative in WW2 Victory March (BBC "People's War" article):
Cumberland Miners' Representative in WW2 London Victory March
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Sunday, 09 March, 2014  
Anonymous Josephine Dunlop said...

Re Private George Edward Whitehead.
Whitehaven News Thurs 5th Dec 1918: "Funeral of Lowca Soldier"
"Private George E Whitehead late of Green House Lowca was badly "gassed" in France and brought home to hospital. On his convalescence he was sent to work at Winngates Farm, Hutton Roof. There he fell victim to influenza and died on Saturday 16th November. His body was brought home to Lowca on Mon 9th November by motor car and interred on Thursday last in Moresby churchyard. A sergeant and six men of the Agricultural Company at Carlisle bore their comrade's body to its last resting place. A hymn was sung at the house before the cortege started, and also at the service in Moresby Church, during which a brief consolatory address was given on the Christ-like self sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives for us."
NB the farm where he died is likely to be "Whin Yeats" - LA6 2PJ.
The Whitehaven News for this period shows there was a serious influenza epidemic reporting on the same page: "More deaths from the epidemic at Egremont. - The grim hand of the Reaper continues to claim toll, young, old and middle aged alike being called." This may be the reason why George's name doesn't appear on the war memorial as he didn't die in battle or from obvious wounds. The fact that he had been badly gassed however is likely to have contributed to his death and the funeral address suggests others shared this view.

Wednesday, 26 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

In May 2014, as part of BBC Radio's "World War One at Home" project marking the WW1 centenary, BBC reporter Andrew Carter interviewed West Cumbrian WW1 and WW2 historian Jeff Wilson about the German U-Boat attack on the village of Lowca during WW1 (referred to above). For further information about this and to listen to the broadcast click on the following link:

Lowca, Cumbria: German U-Boat Attack (16 August 1915)
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Sunday, 01 June, 2014  

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