First World War casualty to be remembered in Larne

The sacrifice of the only Larne woman known to have died as a casualty of World War I is to be honoured by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
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A tree is to be planted in memory of Letitia Henderson at Larne’s Garden of Remembrance.

Letitia was one of the “Canary Girls” who died as a result of poisoning by TNT due to her work at a munitions factory filling shells with explosives.

The motion was proposed by Larne Lough DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen who said that Letitia had been “forgotten in her home town” whilst her name was listed on a memorial at York Minster

Larne War Memorial. (Pic Google).Larne War Memorial. (Pic Google).
Larne War Memorial. (Pic Google).

He told a meeting of the borough council on Thursday evening that Letitia was born to parents Robert and Mary Jane Henderson, from Mill Street, in 1890. In January 1917, she boarded a ferry and travelled to Morecambe to work in a munitions factory filling shells.

Whilst carrying out this work, she contracted what Cllr McKeen as a respiratory “industrial disease” apparently after briefly removing her mask.

“They were known as Canary Girls and TNT tainted their skins yellow and turned their hair orange or green. It poisoned them and they died horrible deaths in service to their country.”

He reported that Letitia Henderson was one of 50 women who died in 1917 and whose names are recorded on a memorial at York Minster.

“She is not remembered in her own home town which is really sad,” he said.

“Before the war, Letitia was well-known as a pianist at local dances. She also played at Larne Theatre providing musical accompaniment to silent movies.

“The inquest said she had not done anything she should not have done but died due to poisoning. Letitia is one of the forgotten victims of the war,” Cllr McKeen stated.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter