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15 October 2014
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Sons and daughters of Egremont, Cumbria who laid down their lives in World War Two.

by BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers

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Contributed by 
BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers
People in story: 
J. Ellwood, J. Wilson, C. Nolan, Leonard Allott, George Andrewartha, Alfred James Andrewartha, Isabelle Andrewartha; Sarah I. Andrewartha, Henry Bragg, George D. Bragg, Jane Bragg, Grace Anne Cummings, William Cummings, Jane Cummings, John Booth Gilbertson, John Robert Gilbertson, Eva Gilbertson, Harold Hillary, John Hillary, Margaret Hillary; Agnes Hillary, Albert Renfrey Harper, Albert Armstrong Harper, Amelia Harper, John Horne, Sarah Horne, William Haile, Jonathan Haile, Sarah Haile, James Edward Jackman, Harold Moore, John Moore, Mary Jane Moore, George Mitchell, George Mitchell (Senior), Mary Ellen Mitchell, George Mattinson, Frank Mattinson, Mary Hannah Mattinson, Elsie Mattinson, Richard Newton, John Newton, Sarah Newton; Jessie Newton, Patrick Nolan, Peter Nolan, Mary Nolan, Robert Wells Postlethwaite, James Postlehwaite, Barbara Ann Postlethwaite, Mary Jane Postlethwaite, William Preston, William Preston (Senior), Phoebe Walker Preston, Wilfred Arthur Urch Roberts, John Ernest Roberts, Katherine Anna Harding Roberts, Edmond R. Spears, Edward Spedding, John Joseph Spedding, Mary Spedding, Arthur Sylvester Thompson, Thomas Thompson, Henrietta Thompson, Alexander Weir, Mrs. J. Weir; Mrs H. Weir, George Dixon Wilkinson, George Dixon Wilkinson (Senior), Ruth Annie Wilkinson, Joseph Wilkinson, John James Wilkinson, Mary Wilkinson; Mr. T. Wilkinson, Alfred Crosthwaite Cain, Michael Cain, Marion Cain, Edith Elizabeth Martin (née Southam), Alfred Southam, May M. Southam, Walter Raymond Martin.
Location of story: 
Egremont, Cumbria
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A5394927
Contributed on: 
30 August 2005

Sunday 14 August 2005: Egremont War Memorial, Cumbria. Egremont Royal British Legion organised events marking the 60th Anniversary of ‘VJ Day’ and the Allied victory in World War Two. Veterans laid poppy wreaths at the memorial honouring those who died during the war. [Photograph by Joseph Ritson]

Introduction

This article has been written by Joseph Ritson, a volunteer for the BBC Radio Cumbria CSV Action Desk volunteers. The author fully understands the terms of the BBC “People’s War”.

Egremont is a small town in West Cumbria. On Sunday 14 August 2005, Egremont Royal British Legion organised a commemorative afternoon for the 60th Anniversary of ‘VJ Day’ that marked the end of World War Two. Among the events organised for this commemoration were a Veterans’ Parade, a Service of Remembrance and some entertainment with a wartime theme. In addition to those members of Egremont R.B.L. marching, British Legion members from neighbouring Cumbrian towns, plus a number of Veterans Associations, also marched.

On the way to the church for the Service of Remembrance, the Veterans Parade marched past Egremont War Memorial where poppy wreaths were laid in remembrance of all who died during the war, and in particular those from Egremont who had paid the ‘Ultimate Sacrifice’. After the service, I read the names of those who are commemorated on the Egremont War Memorial. Most of them are from what was originally known as ‘The Great War’, or World War One.

Inevitably, some of the names are of those who died in the Second World War. There are in fact 27 World War Two names commemorated from 1939 — 1945. I was later able to identify most of those casualties on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. This article has been written to remember those sons and daughters of Egremont who laid down their lives to ensure victory in World War Two.

The Egremont War Memorial

The War Memorial at Egremont is situated right in the centre of town, at the southern end of Main Street. On the top of the Memorial is a World War One soldier standing on top of a plinth. Like most war memorials throughout Britain, it was constructed after the First World War.

On the front face of the plinth are three inscriptions. The first inscription reads: ‘The Great War 1914 — 1918’. The second inscription reads: ‘In everlasting memory of those who fought and died’. The third inscription reads: “In Freedom’s Fight, To Rescue Right”.

The other three faces of the plinth are listed the names of the town’s war dead from the First World War. There are over 100 names from the Great War listed. As this is an article concentrating on World War Two, I have not listed those names here. At the base of the plinth, to the left and right of the soldier’s statue, the dates 1939 — 1945 are inscribed. Below these dates are listed the names of 27 war dead from the Second World War. They are named below.

World War Two casualties commemorated on the Egremont Memorial

Of the 27 names on the Egremont War Memorial I was unable to identify 3 of them as coming from Egremont on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. At the time of writing this article, I have been unable to find anyone who can assist in identifying the correct details of these casualties from Egremont: J. Ellwood, J. Wilson and C. Nolan. There are no doubt still relatives and friends of these three people living in the Egremont area. Although I can give nothing but their names, I have listed them to ensure their sacrifice is at least recorded in the article. Some details of the other Second World War casualties named on the Memorial are given below.

These are the details of the other 24 World War Two casualties commemorated on the Egremont War Memorial. I have obtained this information from the CWGC records, including where the person is buried or where they are commemorated by the Commission if their final resting place is unknown.

1. Gunner Leonard Allott:
Service No. 11257458, 299 Battery, 96 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.
He died aged 41 on 11 January 1943
Remembered with at Mombassa (Mbaraki) Cemetery, Kenya
(Prot. Service Plot. Row G. Grave 55).

2. Private George Andrewartha:
Service No 14572160, 5th Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.
He died aged 28 on 30 November 1943. He was the son of Alfred James Andrewartha and Isabelle Andrewartha, and also the husband of Sarah I. Andrewartha, of Frizington, Cumberland (now Cumbria). Frizington is a village in West Cumbria about 5 miles from Egremont.
Remembered at Sangro River War Cemetery, Italy
(Grave Reference XVII. E. 5).

3. Private Henry Bragg:
Service No 3608284, 1st (Airborne) Battalion, Border Regiment.
He died aged 21 on 20 September 1944. He was the son of George D. Bragg and Jane Bragg, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Groesbeek Memorial, Netherlands.
(No known grave)
Reference on memorial: Panel 4

4. Wren Grace Anne Cummings:
Service No 72105, H.M.S. Nightjar, Women's Royal Naval Service.
She died aged 19 on 15 September 1943. She was the daughter of William and Jane Cummings, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Egremont Cemetery, Cumbria
(Grave Reference: Section B. R. C. Grave 127).

5. Flight Sergeant John Booth Gilbertson:
Service No 1698349, No 83 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
He died aged 20 on 30 January 1944. He was the son of John Robert and Eva Gilbertson, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
(Grave Reference: Collective Grave 5. F.3-6).

6. Private Harold Hillary
Service No 3601798, 4th Battalion, Border Regiment
He died aged 24 on 12 August 1942. He was the son of John and Margaret Hillary; and the husband of Agnes Hillary, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Calcutta (Bhowanipore) Cemetery , India
(Grave Reference : Plot H. Grave 49)

7. Lance Bombardier Albert Renfrey Harper
Service No 6204266, 340 Battery, 103 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.
He died aged 22 on 27 May 1943. He was the son of Albert Armstrong Harper and Amelia Harper, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Egremont Cemetery, Cumbria
(Grave Reference Section A.C. Grave 544).

8. Ordinary Seaman John Horne
Service No D/JX 559521, H.M.S. Mahratta, Royal Navy.
He died aged 18 on 25 February 1944. He was the son of Sarah Horne, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Plymouth Naval Memorial, UK
(No known grave)
Reference on Memorial : Panel 88, Column 1.

9. Fusilier William Haile
Service No 3460342, 10th Battalion., Lancashire Fusiliers.
He died aged 32 on 30 December 1942. He was the son of Jonathan and Sarah Haile, of Bigrigg (a village about 2 miles north of Egremont)
Remembered with honour at the Rangoon Memorial Yangon, Myanmar (Formerly Burma)
(No known grave).
Reference on Memorial : Face 9.

10. Trooper James Edwards Jackman:
Service No 3599941, 5th Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.
He died aged 24 on 21 October 1944. Information about the next of kin is not provided on the CWGC records, but this is the only J.E. Jackman for WW2 on their records.
Remembered with honour at Uden War Cemetery, Netherlands.
(Grave Reference: 6. G. 10).

11. Private Harold Moore
Service No 14551294, 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment
He died aged 20 on 21 March 1945. He was the son of John and Mary Jane Moore, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Egremont Cemetery.
(Grave Reference: Section A.C. Grave 170).

12. Private George Mitchell:
Service No 3601154, 4th Battalion, Border Regiment.
He died aged 21 on 24 May 1940. He was the son of George and Mary Ellen Mitchell, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Ailly-sur-Somme Communal Cemetery, France
(Grave 3).

13. Pilot Officer George Mattinson:
Service No 143576, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
He died aged 31 on 03 July 1943. He was the son of Frank and Mary Hannah Mattinson, of Egremont, and the husband of Elsie Mattinson, also of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Egremont Cemetery.
(Grave Reference: Section L.C. Grave 385).

14. Gunner Richard Newton:
Service No 11257305, Royal Artillery, attached to 304 Anti-Tank/Light A.A. Regiment, East African Artillery.
He died aged 43 on 12 February 1945. He was the son of John and Sarah Newton; and the husband of Jessie Newton, of Egremont. .
Remembered with honour at Nairobi War Cemetery, Kenya.
(Grave Reference: 2. D. 30).

15. Private Patrick Nolan:
Service No 3779299, 13th Battalion, The King's Regiment (Liverpool).
He died aged 30 on 13 April 1943. He was the son of Peter and Mary Nolan, of Egremont. Remembered with honour at Rangoon Memorial, Yangon, Myanmar (Formerly Burma)
(No known grave).
Reference on Memorial: Face 6.

16. Colour Serjeant Robert Wells Postlethwaite:
Service No 3594553, 2nd Battalion, Border Regiment.
He died aged 33 on 24 March 1940. He was the son of James and Barbara Ann Postlethwaite, of Egremont, and the husband of Mary Jane Postlethwaite, of Workington (a town a short distance to the north of Egremont).
Remembered with honour at Calcutta (Bhowanipore) Cemetery
(Grave Reference: Plot H. Grave 73).

17. Signalman William Preston:
[As the next of kin for this W. Preston are given as from Workington on the CWGC, I am assuming this is the person commemorated on the Egremont Memorial. Apologies if this is incorrect].
Service No 3456546, 6th Airborne Division, Signals, Royal Corps of Signals.
He died aged 31 on 2 May 1945. He was the son of William and Phoebe Walker Preston, of Salterbeck, Workington, Cumberland (now Cumbria)
Remembered with honour at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany.
(Grave Reference: 10. H. 15).

18. Marine Wilfred Arthur Urch Roberts:
Service No PLY/X 1360, H.M.S. Gloucester, Royal Marines
He died aged 24 on 22 May 1941. He was the son of John Ernest and Katherine Anna Harding Roberts.
Remembered with honour at Plymouth Naval Memorial
(No known grave)
Reference on Memorial: Panel 59, Column 3.

19. Corporal Edmond Robson Spears:
[There is no next of kin listed on the CWGC records for this casualty. However, the other details for this casualty seem to suggest it may be the person from the Egremont area — apologies if this is incorrect]
Service No 6103344, 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.
He died aged 24 on 15 October 1944.
Remembered with honour at Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands.
(Grave Reference: 5. G. 7).

20. Flying Officer Edward Spedding
Service No 149334, 488 (R.N.Z.A.F.) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
He died aged 36 on 30 July 1944. He was the son of John Joseph and Mary Spedding, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at St Remy Churchyard, Calvados, France
(Flying Officer Spedding is interred in a joint grave with another casualty).

21. Private Arthur Sylvester Thompson:
Service No 3598328, 4th Battalion, Border Regiment.
He died aged 27 on 25 June 1944. He was the son of Thomas Thompson, and of Henrietta Thompson, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Gauhati War Cemetery, India.
(Grave Reference: 4.C.5).

22. Private Alexander Weir:
Service No 3708054, 1st (Airborne) Battalion, Border Regiment.
He died aged 33 on 10 July 1943. He was the son of Mrs. J. Weir; and the husband of H. Weir, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Cassino Memorial, Italy.
(No known grave)
Reference on Memorial: Panel 7.

23. Private George Dixon Wilkinson:
Service No 5384866, 4th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
He died aged 21 on 21 May 1940. He was the son of George Dixon Wilkinson and Ruth Annie Wilkinson, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Bruyelle War Cemetery, Belgium..
(Grave Reference: I. C. 11).

24. Flight Sergeant Joseph Wilkinson:
Service No 537086, 357 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
He died aged 25 on 15 March 1944. He was the son of John James Wilkinson and Mary Wilkinson; and the nephew of Mr. T. Wilkinson, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Singapore Memorial, Singapore..
(No known grave)
Reference on Memorial: Column 435

Two additional Second World War casualties from Egremont

In addition to the 27 names commemorated on the War Memorial in the town centre, I found two additional Second World War casualties recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who are buried in Egremont Cemetery. The likely reason they are not listed on the War Memorial is because they died in 1946. As previously explained, the dates above the Second World War casualties on the monument are given between 1939 and 1945.

Because this article is about World War Two casualties from the Egremont area, and the CWGC classes them as such, I include their details here. Sometimes, casualties died from war wounds many months afterwards. In other cases, casualties died in an accident while they were still in the service of their country.

Below are the details listed in the CWG C records for the two additional World War Two casualties interred in Egremont Cemetery and who died in 1946.

1. Gunner Alfred Crosthwaite Cain:
Service No 1581007, 15 H.A.A. Regiment, Royal Artillery.
He died aged 33 on 17 November 1946. He was the son of Michael and Marion Cain, of Egremont.
Remembered with honour at Egremont Cemetery
(Grave Reference: Section L.C. Grave 477).

2. Private Edith Elizabeth Southam:
Service No W/141922, Auxiliary Territorial Service.
She died aged 21 on 20 July 1946. She was the daughter of Alfred and May M. Southam, of Bigrigg, and the wife of Walter Raymond Martin, also of Bigrigg.
(At the time it states that she was serving under her married name of Martin)
Remembered with honour at Egremont Cemetery
(Grave Reference: Section B.U. Grave 40).

Conclusion

On Sunday 14 August 2005, when the Veterans’ Parade marched past the Egremont War Memorial, the command was given for “Eyes right!” It was important for the veterans who had survived the war to pay tribute to fallen comrades, on this of all days giving thanks for victory in World War Two, 60 years later. Those named on the memorial who had died during the war had helped prepare the way for that final victory.

I would like to dedicate this article to the memory of all those who died during World War Two, particularly those from the West Cumbrian town of Egremont. As can be seen from the places where the sons and daughters of Egremont mentioned in this article have been laid to rest, some of them lie in Egremont Cemetery, some are in graves in other countries and some have no known grave.

Each one of them must have been well-loved by their friends and family, and hopefully their sacrifice will be remembered long into the future. Although I have not been able to write much about each casualty, perhaps this article may help that to be done at a future date.
Worthy of Remembrance:
“Until memory fades and life departs,
Let them live forever in our hearts!”

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