Violet Edith Akehurst aged 16 ATS

Discussion in 'The Women of WW2' started by KevinBattle, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    I've used the Search function but not found anything for this young girl.
    AKEHURST, VIOLET EDITH. Rank: Private. Service No: W/86125. Date of Death: 24/11/1941. Age:16.
    Regiment/Service: Auxiliary Territorial Service Attd. 490(M) H.A.A. Bty. Royal Artillery
    Grave Reference: Div. C. Sect. G. Grave 67. Cemetery:BATTLE CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Daughter of Alec and Edith Mary Akehurst, of Battle.

    Violet was (allegedly?) the youngest female British and Commonwealth service casualty of WWII.
    She served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service. Attached to 490 Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery.
    Service No: W/86125.She was only 16 and the daughter of Alexander and Edith Mary Akehurst (nee MacDonald) of Battle.

    Can anyone provide any further details?
    There is an entry on Scottish National War Memorials, perhaps she was in Scotland at the time of her death?
    Seems to use the abbreviation G/L so presumably a gun layer at a radar/AA site?
    Likely to be sickness or an accident, but would be useful to know the story behind the bare basics.
    Thanks in advance
  2. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Hi Kevin, the only hint I'm getting is in the newspapers. Don't have a subscription but if anybody out there has findmypast or britishnewspaperarchives sub, they could open this article for you.

    It's a remembrance entry one year on from her death. The text is scrambled, as I said I don't have a subscription but it looks like her death occured in Bath.

    Attached Files:

  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I have checked for her birth in England & Wales on Ancestry (doesn't do Scotland for some silly reason after 1900) and she does not appear on any search for births, so it may be she was born in Scotland
    Search for her between 1923 & 1927 resulted in 4 births all in 1927 - so not her


    Edited to add:
    Curious - - states she was born in Ticehurst, East Sussex in 1925.
    So why would she appear on a memorial in Scotland??? - if the above is true

    shes proving a slippery customer - just searching for Akehurst, b 1925 +/- 1 year in Ticehurst throws up a number of results but no Violet or Edith. I wonder if she changed her forenames when she 'joined up' - Akehurst seems a commonish name in that area. Hummmmmm
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Found her - some idiot thinks Ticehurst is in Hampshire :(

    England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005 about Violet E Akehurst
    Name: Violet E Akehurst
    Mother's Maiden Surname: Macdonald
    Date of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep 1925
    Registration district: Ticehurst
    Inferred County: Hampshire
    Volume Number: 2b
    Page Number: 163

    She has 3 brothers and 4 sisters


    edited to add:
    link for reference -
  5. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    TD: Many thanks for all you have found....
    Yes, Ticehurst HAMPSHIRE!!!!
    This seems to be the family from Birth Registrations...
    Name: Violet E Akehurst. Mother's Maiden Surname: Macdonald. Date of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep 1925
    Registration district: Ticehurst, Sussex. Volume: 2b. Page: 163

    NAME: Doreen E Akehurst. MOTHER: Macdonald. BIRTH: Mar 1920 - Ticehurst, Sussex. Died as infant Jun 1920
    NAME: George A Akehurst. MOTHER: Macdonald. BIRTH: Jun 1921 - Ticehurst, Sussex
    NAME: Elisabeth F Akehurst. MOTHER: Macdonald. BIRTH: Jun 1923 - Ticehurst, Sussex
    NAME: Violet E Akehurst. MOTHER: Macdonald. BIRTH: Sep 1925 - Ticehurst, Sussex
    NAME: Joan Akehurst. MOTHER: Macdonald. BIRTH: Sep 1927 - Ticehurst, Sussex
    NAME: Kitty M Akehurst. MOTHER: Macdonald. BIRTH: Mar 1929 - Battle, Sussex. Died as infant Mar 1929
    NAME: Harry Akehurst. MOTHER: Macdonald. BIRTH: Mar 1930 - Battle, Sussex
    NAME: Malcolm W Akehurst. MOTHER: Macdonald. BIRTH: Dec 1933 - Battle, Sussex

    So the first newspaper clipping is obvious the one year anniversary of her death, as you say in Bath Hospital, although I can't find a Death Registration (yet!).

    From the births shown above, the second clipping is of interest, as it might be her engagement announcement, as she was the THIRD daughter of Alexander and Edith.......
    There was another Violet M Akehurst in the Battle registration district, who was born in Sept 1926, one year later than "our" Violet but married a John A Rolfe....

    Name: Violet M Akehurst. Spouse: John A Rolfe. Date of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep 1942. Registration district: Battle, Sussex. Volume: 2b. Page: 69.

    As regards the 490 Mixed Battery HAA, it looks as if they were deployed in Richmond Park...
    21/08/1941 the first mixed battery was deployed in Richmond Park
    490 (Mixed) HAA Regiment (Middlesex) 1947-1955
    63 AA Brigade (TA) .
    1.1.47 Re-organised from 37 AA Bde at London NW1 1 AA Group, London
    1947 Bde units: 461, 484, 490 HAA Regiments RA (TA)
    Thanks also for your PM, I will contact you for anything else, but thought to post this so you don't have to spend time following my footsteps!

    I'm rather surprised that there seems to be so little about the YOUNGEST servicewoman to die in WW2, there seems to be a lot on the youngest boy, oldest, strangest etc etc, but not for her (or whoever else may be the youngest serving.
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi KB

    Perhaps you need to contact to find out why she might be on a Scottish War memorial??

    The only other route would be to try and contact the archives of Bath Military Hospital for information, if not about her then the type of injuries or diseases the catered for in 1941.

    Edited to add,
    Thats them - I can throw my little family tree in the bin now - :P
  7. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Sorry about the wasted effort on the Family Tree, we must have been working on it at the same time and I wanted to spare you from that!
    For info, I have contacted the owner of a Tree for Violet's father, and I've previously contacted her about a relative at Little Common, so I'm hopeful she might find more....

    I can't find anything about the YOUNGEST SERVICEWOMAN, but enough 14 year old cabin boy/deck hands, bugler on HMS Fiji etc, but no female!!

    If her unit was in Richmond Park, I wonder if there was a Bath ROAD hospital, near London, rather than the West Country - depends where 490 HAA were, I suppose!
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  10. gaspirator

    gaspirator Member

    I photographed her grave in Battle Cemetery last year and noted her young age; I've no further info though.


    - Pete
  11. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Thanks to you both (and TD of course).
    I have PM'd tonym and appreciate the photo, although I live quite close by and use St Mary's Church Hall which backs onto the cemetery, but nice to know she has been remembered by you and others.
    Surprisingly, there seems to be a lot about who was the youngest boy (not Merchant Navy) oldest, first, last or whatever but not for the youngest servicewoman....
    I've also chased up on the Bath War Hospital, but the In Memoriam used the words Bath MILITARY Hospital.
    Not yet traced a Death Registration to clarify if Somerset or elsewhere when she died.

    Will see if local papers, radio or RBL Branch can find out anything further.
  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Kevin

    Perhaps now you can apply for her death cert - if only transcribers would spell names correctly - had to search for Violet's died 1941 in Bath and found:

    England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 about Violet E Akenhurst
    Name: Violet E Akenhurst
    Birth Date: abt 1925
    Date of Registration: Dec 1941
    Age at Death: 16
    Registration district: Bath
    Inferred County: Somerset
    Volume: 5c
    Page: 1174


    edited to add:
    Apologises to the transcribers the actual document (having looked at it) has her name as Akenhurst and NOT Akehurst - so if you are applying for a death cert note the difference in official spelling of her name on the documents.
  13. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Thanks! That clinches it as the Bath War Hospital.
    Hard work though to pin her down when docs were as AkeNhurst! That's a high degree of perseverance, so Thanks again...
    I did contact the locals but couldn't clarify precisely enough.
    Also tried the ATS Association, but they don't have anything (yet) but no doubt will IF Violet is confirmed as youngest UK (at least servicewoman to die in WW2.

    Her father (Alec Akehurst) served in 5th Bn Royal Sussex and was wounded at Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915 and seems to have been medically downgraded to B1 and transferred to 29th Bn Middlesex then to 15th Bn Warwickshire. He married in 1918 in Liverpool and discharged in April 1919. He re-enlisted into Royal Engineers in December 1923 and finally discharged in April 1925. Violet was born 4th Qtr 1925. He was born 30 Jan 1896 and died 1965 in Battle (Registration District, if not the town).

    The family lived in Station Road, Robertsbridge for many years and in 1919 Alec gave the address for Edith as 3, Waterloo Terrace, Robertsbridge.
    I just wonder if the "Battle" aspect comes through the Battle Urban District which went out as far as Robertsbridge for BMD registrations, rather than Battle TOWN Council which was basically the town itself.... but then she is buried in Battle St Marys, rather than somewhere in Robertsbridge, so perhaps the family were now living in the town by 1941.....

    I'm meeting another local chap on Tuesday who also has an interest. No response from Tree Owner, but there is a confusing Alexander James Akehurst from Ticehurst who was killed in May 1915 with a brother George, which isn't him, but needed to be checked and eliminated...

    Name: Alexander James Akehurst. Registration Year: 1895. Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep. Registration district: Ticehurst, Sussex. Volume: 2b. Page: 107.
    Name: Alexander Akehurst. Birth year: abt 1896. Father: Alfred Akehurst. Mother: Sussanah Akehurst
    Birth Place: Etchingham, Sussex. Current Address: Ticehurst, Flimwell, Sussex.

    Alfred Akehurst, 48, carter on farm; Sussanah Akehurst, 44; Rose Akehurst, 14; Eliza Akehurst, 13; Sarah A Akehurst, 11; George Akehurst, 9; Alexander Akehurst, 5; Louisa Akehurst, 3; Evelyn Akehurst, 1 month. All children born Etchingham except Louisa and Evelyn which Flimwell.
    Name: Alexander Akehurst. Age in 1911: 15. Birth year: abt 1896. Occupation: Farm Labourer
    Birth Place: Etchingham, Sussex. Street address: Walters Farm Tinkers Lane Ticehurst.
    Alfred Akehurst, 57; Susannah Akehurst, 54; George Akehurst, 19; Alexander Akehurst, 15; Louisa Akehurst, 13; Evelyn Akehurst, 10.

    served as Pte 1539 5th Batt Royal Sussex Reg kia at the battle of Careney on the 09-05-1915
    AKEHURST, ALEXANDER JAMES. Rank: Private. Service No: TF/1539. Date of Death: 09/05/1915.
    Regiment/Service: Royal Sussex Regiment 1st/5th Bn.
    Panel Reference: Panel 20 and 21. Memorial: LE TOURET MEMORIAL.

    With no Additional Information, he had to be a red herring as deceased in 1915 with Violet being born 10 years later, but.......

    Work continues, but if anyone has a rival contender for youngest servicewoman, now is a good time to make contact!
  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I did notice other Akehursts from the same area, perhaps Violets Uncle/cousins etc etc

    I am still intrigued as to why she is recorded in Bath for her death, might be worth a copy of the certificate. If she lived in/around Battle, attended a HAA Battery in Richmond Park .........................????, died in Bath??

    Was there a training school Bath way for ATS/HAA perhaps an accident??

  15. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Yep, questions that will be pursued in due course.

    I have emailed CWGC if they have any record of a younger girl in the Armed Forces (not a Girl Guide etc!)

    Will now see what local searches via paper and radio bring.
    If she was the youngest, that would make it more newsworthy.

    There were a lot of Akehursts in Flimwell and Violet's parents lived i Station Road and Waterloo Terrace, Robertsbridge.
    Having used Geoffs Search Engine with age 14; 15 and 16, I can only find one other 16 year old service"woman"...
    WILSON, AGNES DUNBAR. Rank: Aircraftwoman 1st Class. Service No: 2118452.
    Date of Death: 24/11/1944. Age:16. Regiment/Service: Women's Auxiliary Air Force.
    Grave Reference: Sec. L. 2nd Extn. Grave 188. Cemetery: KILWINNING CEMETERY.
    Additional Information: Daughter of Angus and Isabella Jane Wilson, of Kilwinning.

    One or the other must be the youngest!
  16. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 about Agnes D Wilson
    Name: Agnes D Wilson
    Birth Date: abt 1928
    Date of Registration: Dec 1944
    Age at Death: 16
    Registration district: Stamford
    Inferred County: Lincolnshire
    Volume: 7a
    Page: 379
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Kevin

    Violet - birth registered Jul - Sep 1925 - so when she dies she would be between 16 years 6 months and 16 years 2 months

    Agnes - you should contact amberdog45 as she has access (I believe) to Scottish records better than I have so ascertain the registration months for her birth.

    It may require (obviously) copies of birth certs to find out actual dates of birth then you will know precisely which is younger. The other aspect of this was I was just watching the film "The Gentle Sex" and the thought was from that that there would have been a time for 'basic' training - how long I do not know, so if they joined the ATS on their birthday then there must be a period of time to add on, unless they died during that training period which is possible of course. Some of that comes back to knowing what type of medical facility Bath hospital was??

  18. gaspirator

    gaspirator Member

    Extract from the 1939 'Pike's Directory of Hastings, St Leonards, Bexhill and Battle' - presumably compiled in 1938.


    - Pete
  19. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    From the Kilmarnock Academy Roll of Honour:
    Agnes Dunbar Wilson, of Kilwinning, attended Kilmarnock Academy for a year. In 1942 she joined the W.A.A.F., in which service she had two sisters.
    Two years later she was killed in a road accident at Stamford, Lincolnshire.
    At the time of her death she was seventeen years old; she had joined the services at fifteen.
    She is the youngest of the casualties here recorded.

    Allegedly there is another 16 year old (on CWGC) but England and Wales Death List has this
    GORMAN, MARGARET TAYLOR. Rank: Aircraftwoman 2nd Class. Service No: 2097411. Date of Death: 25/03/1942. Age:16.
    Regiment/Service: Women's Auxiliary Air Force
    Grave Reference: Cemetery:GODMANCHESTER (ST. MARY) CHURCHYARD.
    Name: Margaret T Gorman. Birth Date: abt 1923. Date of Registration: Mar 1942. Age at Death: 19
    Registration district: Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire. Volume: 3b. Page: 538.
    but no parents listed and no births from 1922 to 1926 in Cambridge/Huntingdon area that I could match.

    Hopefully the local paper and radio might draw blood relatives forward with definite info.

    gaspirator (Pete!) Thanks, that moves them from Robertsbridge definitely into Battle Town, and explains her burial in St Mary's.
    Great work - I'm in awe!
  20. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Kevin,

    Found this which might give some background info:

    Reference:WO 222/880 Description:
    Bath Military Hospital.

    Date: 1939 Sept.-1940 July Held by: The National Archives, Kew Legal status: Public Record

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