Picture of CWGC headstone Marian Lapish WRAF at St Marks church Leeds.
Whilst exploring the churchyard of St Marks church in Woodhouse Leeds looking for a family grave for someone who had reading this blog I noticed the grave of someone else.
Marian Lapish was a member of the fledgling Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) and died 3 November 1918 whilst serving with No. 2 Aeroplane Repair Depot at RAF Norton (now Gleadless), Sheffield. Marian was the daughter of John and Laura Lapish, of 81, St. Mark’s Rd the road the church is on here in Leeds.
I have no real idea how Marian died at the age of 20 here in Yorkshire, however I think that is is quite possible that the 1918 flu pandemic may have been the cause. Around 250,000 people died here in the UK during the 30 months that the “Spanish” flu was around and most victims were healthy young adults.
Written on the standard CWGC headstone are the words: BLEST ARE THE PURE IN HEART. These words were chosen by her family, I would like to think that they were of some small comfort, it cannot have been easy burying their daughter at such an age.
The WRAF was founded in 1918 and disbanded in 1920 only to re founded as the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1939 before becoming the WRAF once more in 1949.
In 1994 the WRAF merged with the Royal Air Force and women can apply for and indeed do the majority of jobs available. Today Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Stewart (Executive Officer) flies as Red 9 in the Red Arrows, The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team. Kirsty is the first woman to fly with the Red Arrows and flew combat missions in her Tornado over Iraq, something that would have surprised the early members of the WRAF like Marian who could perhaps serve as drivers or mechanics.