- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Hilda McGuinness, Patrick Joseph McGuinness ‘Pat’, Frances McAlone (née McGuinness), Sadie McCourt, William McAlone ‘Bill’, Patricia McGuinness ‘Patsy’, John McGuinness ‘Jackie’, Daniel McGuinness ’Danny’, Pauline McGuinness, Martin Jepson.
- Location of story:
- Whitehaven (Cumberland / Cumbria)
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 January 2006
(Left to right): Frances McAlone with her friend Sadie McCourt and husband Bill McAlone On Sunday 26 June 2005 Cumbria commemorated the 60th Anniversary of victory in WW2 at Whitehaven. Among those whose sacrifice was remembered were Frances’s parents: Pat and Hilda McGuinness. [Photograph by Joseph Ritson]
This article has been written with the assistance of Mrs Frances McAlone (née McGuinness). It deals with Frances’s parents Pat and Hilda McGuinness, concentrating on how important it is to remember the sacrifices Pat, Hilda and their family made during and after the war. The sacrifices they made are largely responsible for the ultimate victory of the Allies in World War Two.
Being born after the war, I never had the privilege to meet Pat, although I do remember Hilda and some others related to them. Pat and Hilda’s home was on Fell View Avenue, Woodhouse, Whitehaven. A lot of my mother’s relatives lived on the same street at that time and my relatives were close friends of Pat, Hilda and other members of the McGuinness family at that time.
Pat was killed on the outskirts of Ancona, Italy in 1944. He is buried in the Ancona War Cemetery. I have written previous articles about Pat and Hilda during the war, which are listed at the end of this article. Both Frances and the author have read and understood the terms of the BBC “People’s War” website.
In remembrance of Pat
What I do know about Hilda is that it was extremely important to her that Pat’s sacrifice in the war should be remembered and that his name should be commemorated. At Hilda’s request, Pat’s name and his final resting place were inscribed on her headstone when she passed away on 28 November 1976. There are two words on that headstone that sum up Hilda’s wishes: “Always Remembered”.
Recently, while researching information in the Cumbria County Archives Office about the Second World War I came across an article in ‘The Whitehaven News’ that the then Mayor of Whitehaven proposed a ‘Commemoration Fund’ for a Memorial / Book of Remembrance commemorating those citizens of Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria) who had died in the service of their country in the Second World War. The newspaper article asked for people to send in the names of those who had died, while money was raised to pay for the Memorial.
Although Whitehaven is my hometown and I have written accounts about many of those who died in WW2, I had never come across heard of a WW2 Memorial or ‘Book of Remembrance’, apart from the dates 1939 - 1945 being inscribed on the town’s Cenotaph in Castle Park. When I asked various people around the town whose relatives were among those who lost their lives I was unable to find anyone who knew of a Civic WW2 Memorial for the town. This included Pat and Hilda’s daughter Frances McAlone. Nobody at either the Cumbria County Archives Office or at Copeland Borough Council (the successor council to Whitehaven Town Council) knew of the existence of a separate WW2 Memorial.
Letters to the council
Knowing how important it was to Hilda that Pat be commemorated, I thought that if anyone would have known about a Memorial, Hilda would have been one of them. Eventually, after going through available the indexed documents at the Cumbria Archives Office in Whitehaven I found a folder that it turned out contained the letters to the Town Council written by relatives of those who had died in the war. Among the letters in the folder were two written by Hilda McGuinness about her dear husband Pat!
Documents obtained from the Cumbria County Records Office are obtainable on the basis they will not be reproduced without permission of the copyright owner. Hence, to ensure the terms of obtaining copies from the Archives Office and the BBC “People’s War” site are complied with, I have obtained the permission of both Frances, Pat and Hilda’s eldest child, and Mr Martin Jepson LLM, Head of Legal and Democratic Services at Copeland Council.
Hilda’s first letter is undated but must have been written in June or July 1947. The second is dated 29 August 1947. Below are the transcripts of the two letters.
The first letter:
“81 Fell View
On seeing the notice in ‘The Whitehaven News’ concerning the Roll of Honour I would like to send my husband’s name, who was killed in Italy 17th July 1944.
Name - Sgt Pat McGuinness 3593603
Age - 38
Hilda McGuinness (Mrs)”
The second letter:
“81 Fell View
My husband was killed in Italy on the 17th July 1944 but I have heard nothing of any Homecoming Fund. I have five children -
Frances, age 18
Patricia, age 17
John, age 16
Daniel, age 14½
Pauline, age 13.
I hope his name will be on the Memorial.
Having located this file and found irrefutable proof that names had been obtained and money raised for a WW2 Memorial and ‘Roll of Honour’ I was eventually able to discover its location, thanks to the assistance of the helpful staff at the Cumbria Record Office, Scotch Street, Whitehaven. It turned out the Book was in the Archives Office after all, even though it was not prominently displayed. As I have written a separate article about finding the ‘Roll of Honour’, it is sufficient to state here that I looked through the names in the Book and found that Pat McGuinness is one of those commemorated. Hilda’s efforts had been successful after all.
To some degree, this account has a happy ending. Pat’s name and his sacrifice are indeed officially honoured in his hometown, even if it is difficult to find. It took from 1947 until 1953 until the Whitehaven ‘Roll of Honour’ was produced. As I write this article, at the end of January 2006, the whereabouts of the WW2 Memorial Plaque that was supposed to go with the Remembrance Book are still a mystery to me.
Since the local government reorganisation in the 1970s Whitehaven Town Council ceased to exist and the town became part of Copeland Borough Council. I have been unable to trace anyone who knows anyone who still knows of the location of any separate WW2 Memorial Plaque. However, I would like to thank the many people who have helped in different ways enabling me to write this article.
In Whitehaven Cemetery, Hilda’s headstone describes her as ‘the Beloved Wife of Sgt Pat McGuinness, killed in Italy 1944”. I would like to dedicate this article equally to Hilda and Pat, two people with a special bond between them that has continued long after they have passed away. It is a precious memory that should live forever.
28 January 2006
Linked articles about Pat and Hilda McGuinness:
1. “We used to Pray for all our Relatives away in the Army”.
2. A Letter from Egypt to a Pal, 17 February 1944
3. Hilda and Pat McGuinness from Whitehaven, Cumbria: In everlasting memory
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