Gathering around the Memorial Cross
Holy Trinity Church, Winster
Saturday 20th October 2016
Ninety six years ago almost to the day a memorial service was held in this church and this Memorial was unveiled by Mrs Watts Jones, a local sculptress. She was instrumental in its design and construction and it is here to honour the memory of seven local servicemen and one lady - Louise Mary Holme OBE. An account of this gathering was published in the Westmorland Gazette dated 30 October 1920.
This is the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme and there are 141 project throughout the UK to mark the 141 days of that battle. Crosthwaite and Lyth WI received a letter from our National Federation passing on an invitation from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to become involved in one of these Living Memory Projects. We took up the challenge and as a WI we decided to research the life of a lady involved in war work during the first world war. We were intrigued to find one such lady lying in a war grave close by and so our journey began…
Louise Mary Holme was born in 1891 at Ellerigg, Ambleside to John Holmes and Mary, maiden name Black. Louise was one of seven children but three died during childhood. By 1911, aged 19, Louise had left the family home in Windermere to live in Bournemouth where she worked as an assistant dressmaker. She volunteered for their Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps and and she worked as a clerk with the service number-Worker 4100. This Corps had none military status and its members held grades and not ranks. However Worker equated to Private and Forewoman to that of Sergeant. Sadly many service records were lost during an air raid in the Second World War but we do know that Louise became, for two years, a Forewoman Clerk in an overseas hostel in Folkestone. It was here, according to the account in the Westmorland Gazette, that she came into contact with injured and dying servicemen returning from France. She was discharged in 1919 on account of ill health through services rendered I quote "she was very patriotic and did not spare herself".
Louise returned to her family home, Ninevah,Winster where she died from TB on 19th May 1920. Louise's grave lies in the SW corner of the church yard with a Commonwealth War Graves headstone. She lies along side the grave of her parents and siblings. She was awarded, posthumously, the Medal of the Most Excellent Order of the British and Empire because "she served with such distinction". Her parents travelled to Carlisle Castle on 29th May 1920 to receive this decoration on her behalf. Louise and her sisters did not marry and to date, we have been unable to locate a living relative. However advertising this gathering has opened up some new leads and our search goes on…
This project has called upon the talents of many of our WI members. Other people have researched Louise's life before us. For many reasons however her life remains a mystery but today we hold her memory in our hearts and minds.
Our vicar Michael sends his apologies. He is unable to be here for family reasons but he has written this prayer for us and I call upon Dorothy Grace to read it and Vonnie to lay our floral tribute.
Thank you all for joining us today. I like to think that if Louise had lived on, she would have joined her local WI, the nearest being at Crook which was established in 1928 and in the true spirit of the WI, I would like to invite you all to join us in the Old School House for tea, coffee and cake.
Prayer written by the Reverend Michael Woodcock, Parish Priest to Cartmel Fell, Crosthwaite, Winster and Witherslack and read to those gathered around the Memorial Cross on Saturday 22nd October, 2016 by Dorothy Grace
We gather before you today, paying tribute to the life and self-sacrifice of your child, Louise Mary Holme. Our hearts are moved as we recall her story; one of countless thousands of women who committed themselves to serve their country in the wider cause of peace.
We remember her today; we give thanks for her life and her willingness to put others first in the fight for freedom.
Remind us at this time of year of all those who sacrificed so much for our sakes,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Army Auxiliary Corps
LOUISE M HOLME OBE
Q.M. ARMY AUX CORPS
19TH MAY 1920 AGE 28