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WWI Chance discovery reveals link to former Mayoress and Derry’s other war memorial

Letters from POWs to Lady Anderson requesting or thanking her for food parcels.

Letters from POWs to Lady Anderson requesting or thanking her for food parcels.

A chance discovery of some letters from World War One POWs links the intriguing story of a former Mayoress and Derry’s other War Memorial.

Mark Lusby, City Walls Heritage Project Co-ordinator, Holywell Trust, explains: “Holywell is working with St Columb’s Cathedral to create a local history resource based on the books and papers of the late Annesley Malley. We have recently been awarded a small grant from the DOE NIEA Challenge Fund to help purchase archive boxes and envelopes necessary to preserve the material and make it accessible to researchers.

“Coincidentally, last Saturday, International Women’s Day, while cataloguing some papers, I came across a certificate and some letters which link the War Memorial window in the Guildhall with the work of Londonderry Women Voluntary War Workers.

“When you enter the Guildhall’s Assembly Hall on the first floor, facing you is a dazzling wall of stained glass, the gift of the Londonderry Women Voluntary War Workers. It includes five panels featuring female figures. This memorial in stained glass contrasts with the Diamond War Memorial with its much grimmer statues of the sailor getting ready for action and the soldier in action with bayonet and rifle.”

Mark says that Lady Anderson, Mayoress of Derry (1915-1919) played a key role in the commissioning of these Guildhall windows as a WWI memorial.

“They were unveiled by the Duchess of Abercorn on May 27, 1925,” he reveals. “Derry’s Women Voluntary War Workers wanted to have ‘a permanent record of their devotion, loyalty, and association with the men of the Navy and Army, and at the same time it would be a bond of sympathy, love and attachment between them and the mothers, sisters and sweethearts who gave their nearest and dearest in the cause of freedom and civilisation.’

“The Derry War Charities Committee also wanted to commemorate the experience of the Irish regiments in WII and included in the War Memorial window are panels displaying the division badges of the three Irish divisions and the cap badges and colours of various Irish regiments.”

 

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