Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The War Memorials of Abbeytown, Cumbria

1. Holme Cultram Abbey, Abbeytown, Cumbria
The headstone in the foreground is that of:
Flight Lieutenant I.J. Muirhead, D.F.C.
2. WW1 memorials inside Holme Cultram Abbey.
(Left): The parish memorial for the ‘Fallen’
(Right): Stained glass window, Sister Martha Mark, QA.I.N.S. 
3. Headstone of F/Lt. I.J. Muirhead, D.F.C.
Died in the Battle of Britain, 15 October 1940
[A WW1 casualty also buried in the churchyard]
4. Abbeytown village memorial
[In the corner of the Methodist Church grounds
5. The inscribed panels on the village memorial
[Remembering both WW1 and WW2 casualties]
 For additional information click on ‘Comments’ below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information
Abbeytown and Holme Cultram Abbey

Abbeytown, also known by its ancient name of Holme Abbey, is a township, a village and an ecclesiastical parish in N.W. Cumbria (previously Cumberland). During the 20th Century, Abbeytown had an average population of around 700 – 800.

Situated on the Solway Plain, Abbeytown is a relatively short distance from Hadrian’s Wall, constructed in Roman times. In 1150 A.D. a Cistercian Abbey was founded here by Prince Henry, son of King David I of Scotland. There was a monastic community based at this location until the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of the English King Henry VIII.

Thus, in 1538, Abbot Gawain Borrowdale was forced to surrender the abbey, its extensive lands and all possessions to the English Crown. Part of the extensive mediaeval abbey remains as the present day church building [Photograph No. 1]. The original tower fell down in 1600 and there were destructive fires in 1604 and, more recently, in 2006. Following the 2006 fire the church building has been largely restored and officially re-opened in September 2015. In the present day, the church is dedicated to St Mary.

Tuesday, 13 October, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Holme Cultram’s War Memorials

The churchyard of Holme Cultram Abbey has two ‘official’ war graves recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: one for the First World War (Gunner Robert Briggs, R.F.A.) and one for the Second World War (Flight Lieutenant Ian James Muirhead, D.F.C.). The headstone of Flight Lieutenant Muirhead is in front of the church building, as seen in photograph No. 1.

Although no WW2 memorial could be seen inside Holme Cultram (St Mary’s) church there are two WW1 memorials [Photograph No. 2]. The memorial seen on the left of this photograph is the (ecclesiastical) parish memorial for the ‘Fallen’ of the First World War. On the right of photograph No. 2 is one of the stained glass windows that survived the 2006 fire. It honours the nursing career of a former parishioner, Sister Martha Mark, who served with the Nursing Service during both the Boer War and the First World War.

The WW1 parish memorial reads as follows:

“Saint Mary’s Holme Cultram
This memorial is erected as a lasting record of the
Devotion of the Men of this parish w
Gave their lives in the service of their country
In the Great War 1914 – 1918”
“They gave their bodies to the Common Weal
And received praise that will never die
And a home in the hearts of Men”.
Robert Briggs, R.F. Artillery
Fred B Dockray, Border Regt.
Francis Grainger, S.S. Arabia
Joseph W.M. Hull, Manchester Regt.
William Holmes, Border Regt.
Jonathan Hope, Manchester Regt.
James Horrocks, Border Regt.
Joseph Wm. Hurst, Border Regt.
James Linton, K.O.S.B.
John Wm. Longcake, Border Regt.
John Mattocks, Norfolk Yeo.
Thomas Oliphant, Border Regt.
Thomas Pinguey, Border Regt.
James Wightman, Border Regt.
Luke G. Wightman, Border Regt.
William Wilson, Border Regt.
Robert Wilson, Border Regt.
George S. Wilson, East Surrey Regt.

Tuesday, 13 October, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The stained glass window honouring Sister Martha Mark, Q.A.I.N.S., has an image of St Mary, patron saint of the church, in the centre. Beneath the image is the dedication to Sister Martha Mark with representations of her campaign medals on either side [as seen on the bottom right hand side corner of photograph No. 2]. Her dedication reads as follows:

“Thanking God for the dear memory of our Sister MARTHA MARK Royal Red Cross Principal Matron, who served 18 years in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service, in the South African Campaign 1899 – 1902, and in France during the Great War 1914 – 1918.”

Tuesday, 13 October, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Flight Lieutenant Ian James Muirhead, D.F.C.

As referred to above, there is only one ‘official’ WW2 casualty buried in the churchyard at Abbeytown: that of Flight Lieutenant Ian James Muirhead, D.F.C. His headstone is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [Photograph No. 3]. Although there is currently no WW2 ecclesiastical parish memorial at Holme Cultramm his name is listed on the Abbeytown village memorial [Photograph No. 4].

He is also listed on another nearby parish memorial – that of Waverton and Dundraw. To see photographs of this memorial click on the following link:
Waverton and Dundraw War Memorial, Cumbria .

Flight Lieutenant Muirhead was awarded his Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.) for gallantry in action in N.W. Europe in 1940. The award of the D.F.C. was announced in the ‘London Gazette’ (28 June 1940, page 3946):

“Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross

Pilot Officer Ian James MUIRHEAD (43362)
This officer has shot down five enemy aircraft and has shown outstanding skill, coolness and daring in carrying out eight patrols in five days over N.W. France and Belgium. During the last patrol he was forced to escape by parachute and after surmounting many difficulties succeeded in reaching his unit.”

This “last patrol” referred to in the ‘London Gazette’ citation took place on 27 May 1940. While flying Hurricane N2346, F/Lt. Muirhead was on patrol over Dunkirk. His aircraft was hit by enemy fire causing the engine to take fire. Baling out over Oostende (Ostend) he was fired upon by Belgian troops, which these days would be described a ‘friendly fire’ incident.

After being evacuated to Britain, F/Lt Muirhead spent some time recovering from his wounds in hospital. He then resumed his flying duties and took part in the Battle of Britain and was therefore one of ‘The Few’.

On 7 October 1940, F/Lt. Muirhead was again shot down, this time while defending South London against enemy aircraft. For a second time Fl/Lt Muirhead managed to bale out, land safely and return to his squadron. Just over a week later, on 15 October 1940, Flight Lieutenant Muirhead was shot down for a third time, this time while engaging enemy aircraft over Kent. Although he was able to bale out yet again, this time the aircraft was too low and he was killed, aged 27.

Although born in London, his family had lived in N.W. Cumbria for many years and so Flight Lieutenant Muirhead was laid to rest in the churchyard at Abbeytown. The epitaph on his headstone is as follows:

“They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old.”

Tuesday, 13 October, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Commonwealth War Graves citation

This is the C.W.G.C. citation for Flight Lieutenant Ian James Muirhead, D.F.C., R.A.F.:

Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Trade: Pilot
Service No: 43362
Date of Death: 15/10/1940
Age: 27
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force, 605 Sqdn.
Awards: D F C
Grave Reference: Near main entrance S.W. of church.

Additional Information:
Son of John Stewart Muirhead and Clara Muirhead, of Abbey Town, Cumberland.

Abbeytown Village War Memorial

The village memorial for Abbeytown is located close to the centre of the village in the grounds of the Methodist Chapel at the corner of Main Street and Laurel Terrace [Photograph No. 4]. It is a grey granite obelisk and remembers the ‘Fallen’ of both World Wars.

The dedication and the names are inscribed on three sides of the memorial [Photograph No. 5]. This is the dedication:

“Erected in Memory of
The Men from Abbeytown and District
Who fell in the Great War
1914 – 1918
1939 – 1945”

This is the list of names listed on the memorial:

(a) 1914 – 1918
Robert Briggs
Fred Dockeray
John Wilson
Joseph Gibson
Francis Grainger
James Linton
William Wilson
George Wilson
Thos. Holliday
Robert Wilson
Stoddart Gate
William Holmes
Thos. Oliphant
Jonathan Hope
Joseph W. Hurst
Joseph W. Hull
James Wightman
Luke Wightman
John W. Longcake
Wm. Hayston
Thos. Pinguey

(b) 1939 – 1945
Ian J. Muirhead
Thomas Penrice
James Wetherington
John J. Johnston
Norman Warwick
Robert G. Cooper

Tuesday, 13 October, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


This article is dedicated to the people from Abbeytown and district who died in the First and Second World Wars:

“The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth.”
‘Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’
[William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)]

Tuesday, 13 October, 2015  

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