Violet Edith Akehurst aged 16 ATS

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

  1. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Tree owner (who I have dealt with previously on another RoH) has responded positively and been pointed to this thread.
    With luck there may be something they can provide.

    I'm not one for the youngest, oldest soldier, sailor or airmen "records" but whatever can be found about this young lass would help keep her memory alive.

    I'll re-check with the Somerset connection to Bath Hospital to see if they have any idea of specific treatments (such as TB for instance) that might hint at why Violet was there and not somewhere closer. The idea of a Training School is a good one, I'll run that past my ATS contact to see if anything is known about that.

    I think it now clear that Agnes Wilson appears to be 17 at time of death, just need to compare with Margaret T Gorman birth registration.
    She's buried at Godmanchester which might be where her parents lived, or perhaps close to where she died.....

    I appreciate your digging out these details, TD!

    This appears to be her uncle, same address in Station Road as her father.... (From Robertsbridge War Memorial Roll of Honour)...
    AKEHURST, Henry William Alexander [Henry Alexander AKEHURST on SDGW] Private 37993, 9th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.
    Killed in action 25th January 1917 in Mesopotamia. Born and enlisted Hastings, resident Robertsbridge.
    Formerly 8569, Royal Sussex Regiment. Buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq. Grave XIX. L. 18. See also Salehurst

    Interesting to note that he served in both a Sussex battalion and a Worcestershire one, like Alec.....
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Too much info there for me to read through (sorry) has anyone checked for a war diary? UK Home Forces war diaries record deaths most of the time.


    There is no 490 Battery war diary covering that date. Anyone know who the parent regiment was?
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Post 5 gives some details, but none I can make sense of:

    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)
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Re Richmond Park 1941, just cam across this article:
    A Second World War bombing decoy site at Richmond Park. It was built by January 1941 as a 'Permanent Starfish' site to deflect enemy bombing from London. The 'Starfish' decoy operated by lighting a series of controlled fires during an air raid to replicate an urban area targeted by bombs. The site is referenced as being operational until 1944, but could have been in use until May 1945. The decoy site at Richmond Park featured a heavy anti-aircraft battery and aircraft obstructions in the form of ditches which were constructed in 1940. The site is currently used as parkland and aerial photography from 1971 does not show any surviving features of the decoy. Further 'Starfish' bombing decoy sites for London were located at Farleigh, Rainham Marshes, Lambourne End and Lullingstone.

    and from :

    On the 21st August 1941 the first mixed battery was deployed in Richmond Park, London to some fanfare. They instantly became a holiday attraction, women marching, drilling and generally working as men. It was as good as a trip to the zoo, and crowds gathered every time the girls were to be seen. And it was not only the public that was to pay them a visit, the site was constantly visited by dignitaries and politicians including Sir Winston Churchill (whose own daughter was an AA Gunner) and even the King and Queen. Gradually, though, the novelty of women doing a 'man's job' wore off and the women soldiers of the battery could get back to being that, soldiers. But it would be true to say that the ATS were the first girls to take their place in a combatant role in any army in the world


    edited to add:
    this woman was also one of those in the first mixed HAA battery in Richmond Park 21.08.41 :

    Girls Behind the Guns: With the Auxiliary Territorial Service in World War II

    For any golfers out there - 1940 amendments to club rules:
    Fred Wilson and CL1 like this.
  5. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Regarding Kevins post #19, Anges Dunbar Wilson was born 1927. Unfortunately her birth details are not available on line. Parentage would have to be obtained by ordering birth certificate (£12). Her birth appears to have been registered in the area of birth and probably nearer her home address. I've come across family members with 2 birth entries before. Done a sweep of the newspapers and can find nothing for her, but if it were noted, it would likely have been in the Glasgow Herald which isn't searchable on line after 1906. Glasgow Herald is available at the google newspaper archive but that would mean trawling through the paper day by day.

    Attached Files:

  6. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Thanks Drew and amberdog for your advices.
    As regards Agnes, it seems she was actually 17 at the time of her death.
    That leaves Violet and Margaret Gorman to resolve the dubious distinction of being the youngest girl casualty in the Armed Forces.

    I'm meeting later with a local researcher and RBL rep and will advise what might be added.
  7. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Mother's maiden name McDonald - she may be Scottish? SNWM seem to be listing anyone with any slight connexion to Scotland, since the site was updated. Originally WW1 only, it now includes WW2 and later.
  8. gaspirator

    gaspirator Member

    No worries! I'm currently doing a WW2 excavation just down the road, so had a Battle directory to hand!

    - Pete
  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Geoff

    That would be a tenuous connection to Scotland. We know she was born in Robertsbridge/Battle, Sussex and died in the Bath Military Hospital.
    Would it be likely that because her mother was perhaps Scottish she is on that Memorial?? - be interesting to find out the criteria for selection to have a name on the memorial.

  10. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Don't think it is a physical memorial, it is a web- based roll of honour, although there may be a paper copy?
    To give an example of their enthusiastic Scots data collection, there are 147,000 WW1 casualties on the database. This gives rise to the error that 26% of Scots who served in WW1 were killed (557, 618 were recruited from Scotland according to War Office statistics). So more than twice the actual percentage killed. The 147,000 were not all Scots.
    Interesting the database contains around 16,000 duplicate entries, probably due to men serving in more than one unit.
    A Scottish mother is reason to be included, just as a Canadian who happened to serve in a Scottish regiment is - they are there too.
    Sorry for going off-topic!
  11. Tonym

    Tonym WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Sorry Kevin

    I have no further detail on this young lady other than what is quoted in this thread. Unfortunately I have a physical problem at the moment that has seriously restricted my active research, even typing this short note is a physical effort as my fingers dedcide what they will print rather than what I want so lots of corrections.

    Whilst I have, to the bestof my knowledge, all service female casualties of WW2, recorded, including many civilian nurses, I also now have an extensive file of previouislyunknown details, including this thread, posted by other members, for future reference when I have full control of my activities.

    So I am keeping an eye on you all.

    Regards, Tony
  12. CL1

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

    All the best Tony and thank you for replying

  13. CL1

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

    for info
    She is Remembered here
    Commonwealth War Dead 1939-1945
    AKEHURST, Private, VIOLET EDITH, W/86125. Auxiliary Territorial Service Attd. 490(M) H.A.A. Bty.
    Royal Artillery. 24th November 1941. Age 16. Daughter of Alec and Edith Mary Akehurst, of Battle.
    Div. C. Sect. G. Grave 67.
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    If you ID the HAA Regiment this battery was part of, drop me a PM. I'll look up her date of death in it and see if she gets a mention.

  15. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    CL1 likes this.
  16. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Trying to find the unit she was in is proving elusive, however I have found on the RA site a link that shows Richmond Park was designated
    HAA S 20 Richmond Park ZS 20 TQ 231722 -

    Do we have experts in RA or HAA who might be able to define the unit that was operational there from Aug 1941 through Dec 1941??

  17. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Tonym, no need to reply, as I now know the difficulties for you, but I wanted to express my appreciation for taking the time (and effort!) to check and respond.

    Just found this in Wiki.......
    Picture Post, on 13 December 1941, featured a photograph of an anti-aircraft gun site inside Sheen Gate.
    Although it mentions December 1941, it may well have been taken mid November, allowing time for a story or photo to fit into the next available edition......
    .... and...
    31 Aug 1941
    The Soviet Baltic Fleet completed its evacuation from Tallinn, Estonia to Kronstadt off Leningrad, Russia. 165 vessels arrived in Leningrad with 28,000 military personnel and civilians on aboard.
    German bombers attacked Alexandria, Egypt, killing 2 British Royal Navy officers but otherwise doing little to no damage to ships and port facilities, which were the primary targets.
    Japan: Kasuga Maru completed her conversion into an escort carrier at Sasebo, Japan. She was renamed Taiyo.
    United Kingdom: A mixed-gender anti-aircraft battery with 200 men and an equal number of women was established, with great public interest, in Richmond Park, London. The women were the first to take a combat role in Britain.

    So, not only was Violet (possibly) the youngest casualty she was also part of the very first mixed unit of anti aircraft guns, strategically placed to defend London - and close enough to be visited by all the dignitaries and notables of the day.....
    She had to have had someone taking an interest in her, or have been a "natural" as being a high profile unit not only would they have to look smart but also be able to do the job under the scrutiny of many VIP's...

    Regardless of the eventual outcome regarding Margaret Taylor Gorman, also 16 when she died in 1944, AT THE TIME OF HER DEATH she as the youngest....
    I have also heard back positively from the Tree Owner and expect arrangements in hand for Birth Certificate so we'll at least know her actual birth date. With luck we'll also have the Death Certificate for cause of death.

    As regards the parent unit for 490 Mixed Battery, all I have so far is what I have already posted,
    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)

    With the unit being high profile, there must be photos in war time newspapers, journals, magazines and perhaps even film of 480 Battery in Richmond Park, especially if VIP's were also involved.

    Thanks to all who've responded so far, it is appreciated and it does look as if Violet was the youngest....
    Fred Wilson and CL1 like this.
  18. CL1

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

    Good Show Kevin

  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Units changed names after WW2 as they were disbanded and amalgamated to anything post WW2 I would ignore. You could do with asking a RA expert if you know of one or may be the RA Museum, Firepower could help.
  20. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thats odd - is there an echo here ??

    "Do we have experts in RA or HAA who might be able to define the unit that was operational there from Aug 1941 through Dec 1941??



    edited to add:
    Isn't Sheldrake an RA man??

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