Saturday, March 04, 2017

Broughton Moor, Cumbria in wartime

1. St Columba's Parish Church, Broughton Moor
(The war memorial is in the churchyard)
2. Broughton Moor war memorial
Originally dedicated in 1921 for WW1
The WW2 names were added in 1947 

3. Names listed on Broughton Moor war memorial
(Left): The list of those who died in WW1  
(Right): The list of those who died in WW2 
4. Poppy wreath tributes remembering the 'Fallen'
5. Memorial for victims of a wartime explosion
It happened at a R.N.A.D. on 18 January 1944

Broughton Moor, Cumberland (now Cumbria)

6. Headstone for Mary Katherine Barnes
Kathie died in the R.N.A.D. explosion
(Buried in Wigton Cemetery, Cumbria)
[Photograph submitted by Michael Deacon]
For additional information click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Broughton Moor is a village and civil parish in the western part of the county of Cumbria (previously Cumberland) with an approximate population of 800. Many of the original houses in the village were built in the 19th Century to house families working in the local coal mining industry.

After the closure of Buckhill Colliery on the outskirts of the village in 1932, a Royal Naval Armaments Depot (R.N.A.D.) was opened on the site in 1939 shortly before the Second World War. The armaments depot site continued to be expanded during the war and it remained operational until 1992 when it began to be decommissioned. Much of the land site has been sold off by the Ministry of Defence for development although access to the site is still largely restricted.

The Church of England parish church at Broughton Moor [photograph No 1.] was mainly built between 1904 – 1905 to an ancient Celtic style, similar to that found on the Scottish island of Iona. It is dedicated to the St Columba, the 6th Century abbot of and saint who founded the monastery at Iona. Broughton Moor’s war memorial is located in the churchyard [Photograph No. 2].

Saturday, 04 March, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Broughton Moor war memorial

Broughton Moor’s war memorial is situated in the St Columba’s churchyard [Photograph No. 2]. It was first dedicated in 1921 to remember the ‘Fallen’ of the village in the 1914 – 1918 war. The original inscription and names are on the front plinth of the memorial [Photograph No. 3 (left)].

In 1947 the names of locals who died in the 1939 – 1945 war were added to the right-hand side plinth of the memorial [Photograph No. 3 (right)]. Patricia Scutts and Ann Wilson, the two local women listed on the memorial, were two of the eleven killed in the accident at the R.N.A.D. site in 1944. At the time of writing there is no specific memorial to remember all the casualties of the accident Poppy wreaths are laid at the memorial each year at Remembrance time [Photograph No. 4].

Saturday, 04 March, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Memorial transcription

WW1 commemoration:
This is a transcription of the inscription on the front of the Broughton Moor war memorial:
“This stone was placed here by the
Inhabitants of Broughton Moor to the
Glory of God, in proud loving memory
Of the undermentioned 16 men of the
Village who gave their lives in the
Service of their country during the war
1914 – 1918”

Saturday, 04 March, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

WW2 commemoration:
This is a transcription of the inscription on the side of the memorial, added in 1947 to remember the locals who died in the Second World War:
“In loving memory of
Those who gave their lives
1939 – 1945”
“We will remember them”

Saturday, 04 March, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Royal Naval Armaments Depot

Because of increasing unemployment in the district with the run-down of the coal mining industry in the 1930s and the district’s relative isolation in case of a European war, there was a short but unsuccessful campaign that Woolwich Arsenal be relocated from London to West Cumberland. Although this never happened, it did indirectly lead to the opening of a new Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Broughton Moor.

Work began at the site to make it into an armaments depot in 1938 and it opened in 1939. It was developed and extended throughout the war. On 18 January 1944, there was a major accidental explosion at the site which resulted in the death of 11 workers (7 women and 4 men) with a further 70 being injured. It took several weeks for all the bodies that were found to be formally identified. Tragically, no remains were found of Henry Rooke who had been in charge of the room where the explosion occurred.

The inquest about the deaths was held on Saturday 5 February 1944. Among those giving evidence was Mr Patrick J. Rafferty who was the officer in charge of the site at that time. He stated that the delay in identifying some of the bodies had been unavoidable. In answer to a question by a trade union official on representing the relatives of Mr Rooke, Mr Rafferty stated there was no possibility that anyone had been buried alive.

According to the coroner’s report, the explosion occurred in one of the traverse laboratories. The Coroner stated that the victims would not have done anything to endanger their own lives. Or those of others, and brought in a verdict of “Accidental death”. As those killed in the explosion were all civilian deaths and no members of the Armed Forces were killed or injured none of the casualties are commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission although, as stated above, two of those killed were from Broughton Moor and are on the Broughton Moor war memorial.

At the time of writing, there is no specific memorial to remember all those who died in the explosion at the Broughton Moor armaments depot although for several years, relatives and others have campaigned for one to be erected at or near the site. Nevertheless, all the names and some details of the casualties were reported in the local press following the accident and the inquest. Using this information, for the first time a memorial for all eleven casualties has been included in this article [Photograph No. 5]. They are also listed here:

R.N.A.D. Broughton Moor
Roll of Honour
+ + + + + + + +
Remembering the following 11 people who lost their lives on 18 January 1944.

MARY C. BARNES, 34, married
GERTRUDE FEE, 27, married
JEAN LISTER, 18, single
EDWARD LYNCH, 53, married
ELIZABETH MOSES, 46, married
HENRY ROOKE, 50, single
PATRICIA SCUTTS, 28, married
ROBERT SWANSTON, 43, married
MARY SMITH, 39, single
ANN S. WILSON, 31, married

Wednesday, 08 March, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


This article is dedicated to the men and women of Broughton Moor and district who lost their lives in the two World Wars, including those who died in the accidental explosion at the R.N.A.D. in January 1944.

The prayer of St Columba in their memory:
Be a bright flame before me, O God, a guiding star above me.
Be a smooth path below me, a kindly shepherd behind me today, tonight, and for ever.
Alone with none but you, my God I journey on my way; what need I fear when you are near,
O Lord of night and day?
More secure am I within your hand than if a multitude did round me stand.

Wednesday, 08 March, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


St Columba's parish church, Broughton Moor

Cumbria County Archives
Whitehaven Archive and Local Studies Centre,
Scotch Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria. CA28 7NL

'The Whitehaven News' (20 January 1944 and 10 February 1944)

Wednesday, 08 March, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Photograph No. 6 shows the headstone memorial for Mrs Mary Katherine Barnes ('Kathie') who is buried in Wigton Cemetery, Cumbria. Kathie Barnes was one of the casualties of the explosion at the R.N.A.D., Broughton Moor on 18 January 1944. This photograph was submitted by Mr Michael Deacon, Cumbria and used with his permission.

Monday, 03 April, 2017  

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