Thursday, August 09, 2007

Caring for widows and dependents


A photograph of the Whitehaven Miners' Memorial inside St Begh's RC Church, Whitehaven, Cumbria.

The Memorial takes the form of a pietà, which those with some Italian liguistic knowledge will know immediately can be translated as 'compassion'. I am led to understand that some bereaved families who lost menfolk through wars or mining accidents used to come in front of this A photograph of the Whitehaven Miners' Memorial inside St Begh's RC Church, Whitehaven, Cumbria.

It takes the form of a pietà, which people with some Italian liguistic knowledge means 'compassion'. I am led to understand that some bereaved families who lost menfolk through wars or mining accidents used to come in font of this statue for silent contemplation and prayer.

Whilst not necessarily specific to a forum about WW2, the entitlement of widows and dependent children has proved an emotive issue on the BBC "People’s War" Message board in late 2006 and early 2007. This is probably not the place to go round in what seems to be a never-ending circle as to the rights and wrongs of entitlements.

Having come across a number of cases of what widows and dependants received, based on this evidence and what I have heard of other cases I would reckon that widows and any dependent children, most likely without exception, will have got what they were entitled to from the state: no more, no less. In addition to that there were other local support networks, often voluntary, that helped people through difficult times (e.g. British Legion, churches, family, friends etc). for silent contemplation and prayer.

Whilst not necessarily specific to a forum about WW2, the entitlement of widows and dependent children has proved an emotive issue on the BBC "People’s War" Message board in late 2006 and early 2007. This is probably not the place to go round in what seems to be a never-ending circle as to the rights and wrongs of entitlements.

Having come across a number of cases of what widows and dependants received, based on this evidence and what I have heard of other cases I would reckon that widows and any dependent children, most likely without exception, will have got what they were entitled to from the state: no more, no less. In addition to that there were other local support networks, often voluntary, that helped people through difficult times (e.g. British Legion, churches, family, friends etc).

[Click on 'Comments' for some additional points on this thread]




Labels: , , , , ,

7 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Did any financial settlement take into account the worth of a husband, father, son, brother killed in the war? As a post-war babe I am probably not in a position to answer for those affected by their sad loss. I was brought up in a different time and inevitably have different thoughts and views to people who lived through WW1 or WW2. Is it possible to ‘compensate’ for such a loss? The answer is probably not.

It was not just ‘war widows’ who were left to fend as best they could and support for families. Wednesday 15 August 2007 is the 60th Anniversary of the William Pit explosion in my hometown of Whitehaven. In one day 104 miners lost their lives as a result of this explosion leaving I believe 89 widows and about 230 dependent children. People from all over the world sent in money, clothes, toys etc for the children: such was the critical desperate need at that time.

The ‘war widows’ of WW2 and their dependent children living in Whitehaven at the time received none of these things: could anyone say today it was wrong to help the miners’ families at that time? In the end, all these bereaved families had to bear a great loss and cope as best they could.

Thursday, 09 August, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

The original Pieta by Michaelangelo
in St Pater's basilica in Rome was vandalised many years ago and to-day after the restoration,is behind a complete wall of bullet resistant glass.

It still however exudes compassion and peace to all who stand and admire the beauty of the work.

St. Peter's is a treasure house of many beautiful works by many artists and I was lucky enough to spend many hours exploring that great complex when I was stationed at Rieti in early '45.

Saturday, 11 August, 2007  
Blogger Peter G said...

Compassion is indeed the nearest translation, rather than the often seen 'pity'. It is a feeling of painful sadness at another person's anguish. The mental sorrow we experience in seeing a mother in such grief and affliction.

I know this sculpture extremely well because there is a wooden replica in a small shrine just outside the main door to the courtyard of where I lived in Musadino from 1941 to 1946. It was facing the public tap from which we drew water several times a day. I saw it everyday, several times a day, during those long years.

More than 20 years later I returned to Musadino and I was amazed at how small it was. I had remembered it as being life-sized. The contrast was so great that it took me a while to accept that it had not been replaced by a smaller version.

Michelangelo's masterpiece can be seen  here. Carved from a single block of marble, he took on the commission at the age of 22, finishing it when he was 25.

Saturday, 11 August, 2007  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

There were quite a few families of Italian origin who settled in West Cumbria in the early and mid years of the 20th Century. Many of the menfolk (or sons) became miners, so I imagine the Micaelangelo Pietà was known to those families.

I suppose the families had a need for quiet places like this after they had lost someone in dreadful circumstances. Where I live is not that far from Lockerbie and they have made a memorial there for the people lost in the Panam plane flight that was blown up in December 1988. I can remember that incident and it was a dreadful period. A number of rescue teams etc were drafted in from Cumbria to help out.

The 1947 William Pit explosion is being commemorated at Whitehaven on Sunday 12 August 2007. It will probably be the last big commemoration as it is the 60th Anniversary.

Regarding widows, there are some widows of those miners who were killed in the explosion still alive and have never married. Those ladies have been 60 years a widow and brought up families with no husband and probably not much money. I know of some WW2 widows who were also widowed 50 - 60 years and never remarried, I imagine you all do.

Saturday, 11 August, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

The original Pieta is one of the finest masterpieces in the so called civilised world as can be seen in Peter's picture - equally on the same side of the nave in St Peter's is the more than life sized statue of St.Peter in black marble.
He is depicted sitting on a throne near the main Altar, with his right foot jutting out over the edge of the dias.Every four of five years this portion of his foot is replaced as it is worn out by the constant touching - and kissing - by the thousands of visitors per day.

Anyone who visits this awesome Basilica for just one day is missing a great deal of the cultural inheritance of all of us.

One of my greater experiences was climbing up the whole height of the steeple and cramming eight soldiers into the Golden Ball near the top - why - because it could be done !

From the piazza - it looks the size of a football !

Tuesday, 21 August, 2007  
Blogger Peter G said...

This phenomenon of marble, or any stone or metal, being worn away by innumerable gentle caresses is very striking. So is the custom, pagan in origin, of a compelling need to touch a statue for good luck.

My favourite Roman poet Lucretius mentions this in his great poem De rerum natura (c. 100 B.C.)

... tum portas propter arena
signu manus dexteras ostendunt adtenuari
saepe salutantum tactu paeterque meantum.


[... bronze statues set by gateways display the right hands thinned away by the frequent touch of greeting from those who pass by.] De rerum natura I. 316-318

And Cicero (106-43 B.C.) mentions a bronze statue in the temple of Hercules at Agrigentum, whose lips and chin had been worn away by the kisses of worshippers.

Herculis templum est apud Agrigentinos non longe a foro, sane sanctum apud illos et religiosum. Ibi est ex aere simulacrum ipsius Herculis, quo non facile dixerim quicquam me vidisse pulchrius—tametsi non tam multum in istis rebus intellego quam multa vidi—usque eo, iudices, ut rictum eius ac mentum paulo sit attritius, quod in precibus et gratulationibus non solum id venerari verum etiam osculari solent.

[There is a temple of Hercules at Agrigentum, not far from the forum, considered very holy and greatly reverenced among the citizens. In it there is a bronze statue of Hercules, of which I cannot easily say where I have seen anything finer - although I am not very much of a judge of those matters, though I have seen plenty of specimens. It is so greatly venerated among them, O judges, that his mouth and his chin are partly worn away, because men in addressing their prayers and thanksgivings to him, are accustomed not only to venerate the statue, but also to kiss it.] Actionis in C. Verrem secundae 4.94

What is striking is that this custom passed unchanged from pagan antiquity to Christianity and still endures to this day.

Tuesday, 21 August, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

....and then of course, we have the PC crowd who tried - in vain - to prevent visitors from touching ST.Peter's statue by claiming that it was unhygenic !
Totally ignoring history - they got short shrift !

Tuesday, 21 August, 2007  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home