Friday, October 15, 2010

WW2 Casualties of Lamplugh, Cumbria

The Lamplugh War Memorial outside Lamplugh Church
This is the white granite monument below the church window
(The Church is dedicated to St Michael and All Angels)

For additional information click on ‘Comments’ below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(1) The War Memorial

The War Memorial at Lamplugh, Cumbria (previously Cumberland) is located in the Parish Churchyard. It was first dedicated in June 1921, listing the names of 30 casualties of the First World War. During WW2 there were 4 service casualties from the district, whose names were subsequently added after the war.

(2) The WW2 Casualties of Lamplugh

(a) Leading Aircaftman James Benn, Service No:1076715, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On June 10 1921 twins were born into the Lamplugh farming family of Braithwaite and Sarah Benn of Smaithwaite. The following day, June 11 1921, the twins were taken to the Established Church of St Michael and All Angels to be baptised by the Rector, Reverend Richard Haythornthwaite.

One of Mr and Mrs Benn’s newly-born twins was a girl and given the name Jane. The other twin, a boy, was given the name James. The church registers show that these were the last two baptisms in the parish before the dedication of the Lamplugh War Memorial in the churchyard, which took place on June 21 1921. This memorial was to the Fallen of the ‘War to end all wars’. History was to prove this was not to be so.

According to the parish registers Jane Benn passed away in infancy, on July 12 1921. Some years afterwards, Jane’s twin brother James Benn went to serve in the RAF Volunteer Reserve during WW2. He served in southern England.

Tragically, the last son of the parish to be baptised in the church before the War memorial of the 1914 – 1918 War was dedicated, LAC James Benn became the first casualty of yet another World War. He died on 4 November 1943 and was brought home to Lamplugh and interred in the churchyard.

(b) Gunner Patrick Johnson, Service No 1709718, 5 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery; and
(c) Private Thomas Jonson, Service No 3601589, 9th Battalion The Border Regiment.

Patrick and Thomas Johnson were brothers, the sons of Patrick and Annie Johnson of Lake View, Kirkland near Lamplugh, Cumbria

Patrick Johnson, the elder brother, was serving in Singapore with the Royal Artillery when it fell to the Japanese in 1942. He became a Prisoner of War until his death on 11 February 1944, aged 32. He is now buried in Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore. Notification of Patrick’s death did not reach home until long afterwards. It was quite common for people whose loved ones were POWs, particularly of the Japanese, to have no further word about them until after the war.

Patrick and Annie Johnson’s second son, Thomas, served with the 9th Battalion The Border Regiment in the Far East (India and Burma). Before the war Thomas had been a forestry worker and he joined the army just before the outbreak of war in 1939.

On 21 May 1944 Thomas was posted ‘Missing presumed killed’ and an appropriate telegram sent to his parents. He was 27 years old at the time. As Thomas Johnson has no known grave he is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar (previously Burma) as well as the memorial in his home village of Lamplugh.

There were two other brothers who served in the Forces during the war – James and Michael. Both of them served in the Navy and survived the war.

(d) Lance Corporal Albert Sessford, Service No 2665538, 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards.

Lance Corporal Sessford was the son of Thomas and Rebecca Sessford, of Lamplugh. He was killed in Italy on 3 July 1944, after the fall of Rome a month earlier. At 19 years of age he was the youngest of the village’s casualties during the Second World War. Lance Corporal Sessford is buried at Foino Della Chiana War Cemetery, Italy.

Friday, 15 October, 2010  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(3) ‘The Flowers of the Forest (‘The Lament’)

For many years there were graves of a small number of former German POWs from the First World War buried in Lamplugh Churchyard. During the 1914 – 1918 war there was a POW camp on the outskirts of Lamplugh. Many of these were engaged in farming or forestry. I understand a small number of these POWs died as a result of the worldwide ‘flu’ epidemic at the end of WW1, which is why they were buried in the local churchyard.

In the 1950s many of the German casualties of both World Wars at various sites throughout Britain were re-interred at a large cemetery near Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. I know of some French war cemeteries where a similar operation was carried out, or where Germans casualties had been buried in mass graves they were re-interred in individual graves where possible.

After two World Wars and personal tragedies in most families and communities in Europe, at least an attempt was made to remember the victims, most of them young men and women whose names are engraved in stone on memorials such as this one all over the world.

In June 1921, at the end of the dedication service of the Lamplugh War Memorial, the outgoing voluntary at the end of the service played by the organist, Mr Hales, was ‘The Flowers of the Forest’, also known as ‘The Lament’. This was a tune often played at mass graveside burials of the fallen soldiers on the Western Front during the First World War. It was also often played at burials during the Second World War, particularly by Scottish or Canadian regiments.

The original ballad ‘The Flowers of the Forest’ described the loss of womenfolk and children after the loss of many thousands of Scottish soldiers against the English at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. ‘The Flowers of the Forest’ uses the analogy of the flowers to represent the young soldiers who have gone away. Like the flowers of summer, they have gone away and not seen again. The tune makes a contrast between the happier times of the past and the present grief of family and friends.

Hence it is an appropriate, if poignant, lament at a burial or memorial service, particularly by a lone piper. It has also been played at the funeral service of many a soldier killed in service during the Falklands War, Iraq or Afghanistan.

There is, however, some optimism in the tune. Just as the other flowers will grow in the forest in other summers then there will be future generations of young men and women who will replace those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in war. Let us hope that the lessons from two World Wars have been learnt and the future will be more a time of peace than a time of war.


Friday, 15 October, 2010  

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