Lily Withers – Get the full picture
The poem Lily, by Dawn Gorman, is part of the Wiltshire Does Its Bit exhibition. It was written as a direct, fictionalised response to a photograph of real-life munitionette Lily Withers, of Trudoxhill, near Frome. Dawn originally saw the photo, reproduced to near-life-size proportions, at a WWI exhibition in Frome Museum. Subsequently, the following details about Lily have been kindly provided by her grandson, John Beaumont.
“Lily Withers was born in 1897, the daughter of a miner in the Somerset Coalfield in Vobster. I don’t remember my grandmother, as she died 14 years before I was born… and I don’t associate her with the war effort at all except perhaps as a press-ganged worker [at J W Singer & Sons ammunitions factory in Frome]. In fact her husband, my grandfather, drove military vehicles in France throughout the war and so it is he who I associate more with the war than my grandmother. When people talk about families and the war, I would say that both of my grandfathers and my father fought in wars, but their wives suffered the consequences of wars.
“Lily was married in 1920 to John Beaumont, at which point, unlike during the war, she was unemployed; he by now was a chauffeur in London. Lily gave birth to my father, Eric Beaumont 15 months after their marriage. Lily Withers died in November 1937 and is buried in Vobster churchyard next to her parents, James and Minnie Withers.”