A Living Memory project
for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme
by members of Crosthwaite and Lyth WI
Remembering Louise M Holme O.B.E.
Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps
The National Federation of the WI was contacted by the Commowealth War Graves Commission to invite WI's to become involved in the Living Memory Project to remember those people buried in a UK war grave. One hundred and forty one projects to mark the 141 days of the Battle of the Somme during this Centenary year. A whole range of groups and communities are involved. The CWGC provided a list of all the names and sites of the war graves in the UK. Crosthwaite and Lyth WI decided to research the life of a lady involved in the First World War and were intrigued to find a war grave for Louise M Holme OBE in Holy Trinity Church, Winster and so our journey began…
Our members have researched ancestry sites, censuses, records at County Hall, back copies of the Westmorland Gazette, the Imperial War Museum, articles in the Parish News, records held at Carlisle Castle, the role of the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps and the Internet.
Louise Mary Holme was born in Ambleside to John (a wood carter) and Mary Holme nee Black in 1892. She had 6 siblings but only three survived. She moved to Bournemouth and worked as an assistant dressmaker. During the war she joined the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps as a worker and became a forewomen clerk in an overseas hostel in Folkstone from 1917 to 1919. Here, she came into contact with injured servicemen returning from the Somme and, we assume, that was how she contracted TB. She was discharged from service 'on account of ill health through services rendered'and returned to her family home, Nineveh, Winster were she died on the 19th May 1920, aged 28 years.
On 29th May 1920, at Carlisle Castle, Louise's parents received, on her behalf, the Medal of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her services rendered." She was very patriotic and did not spare herself"
All her war records were lost in an air raid during the Second World War but there is a letter held at the Imperial War Museum dated June 8th 1920, from Louise's sister Jennie who is responding to a request for photographs of women decorated for their war work. Sadly the IWM is unable to locate this photograph.
On Sunday 24th October 1920, a service was held in Holy Trinity Church and the memorial cross was unveiled by its designer a local sculptress Mrs Watts Jones, to the memory of seven service men of the parish and Louise M Holme OBE.
Ninety six years later almost to the day, on Saturday 22nd October 2016, 20 members of our WI and the wider communities of Crosthwaite and Winster set off, to the sounds of St.Mary's Church bells, to walk the lanes and bridle ways to Holy Trinity Church, Winster. On this bright, calm day, the countryside and views towards the Lakeland fells were at their best.
Some 40 people gathered around the memorial to hear of Louise's short life and sacrifice. A prayer was said and flowers were laid at her grave in the south west corner of the church yard. It is marked by a CWGC headstone and lies along side that of her parents and siblings. Members of Holy Trinity church then served refreshments to those who had gathered for this act of remembrance.
We can find no record of any of Louise's siblings marrying but in 2012 a lady called Amanda Poole made contact, as recorded in the Crosthwiate and Lyth Parish News, stating that her great grandmother, Isobella, was Louise's sister. Her details were lost and to date our research has been unable to find any living relatives. Other people have researched Louise's life before us but for many reasons her life remains a mystery. However, as a result of announcing this gathering to the wider communities of Crosthwaite and Winster we have received some new leads and our search goes on.
Crosthwaite and Lyth WI