Tag Archives: ww1

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 41

10 Oct

Last week got off to a slow start, or rather it got off to a very quick start and before I knew it I was half-way through the week and hadn’t really achieved much. This spurred me into action and although I didn’t really achieve a great deal I did come to a decision about yet another new project that I want to start.

My recent visit to West Dean, Sussex has brought the project into focus, but it was something that I had been meaning to start for a long time. I had been intending to write a series of blog posts about the BOXALLs of West Dean remembered on the parish war memorial, the plan was for this to be in time for Remembrance Day this year.

There are six BOXALLs mentioned on the war memorial and at least four of them are related to me. My plan is to fill in some details on my family tree and hopefully identify my relationship to all six of the men, and provide some details on them and their service. So I am going to kill two birds with one stone, fill in some details on my family tree and generate some material for a few blog posts.

I have no doubt that I will still find other things to distract me whilst carrying out the research on this particular project, hopefully this focus will encourage me to get on with some research and I am already planning to visit the West Sussex Records Office and Chichester Library in the next couple of weeks. There is much I can do online as well, and there is a lot that I need to do before I go the WSRO.

British Army WW1 Service Records now complete on Ancestry.co.uk

6 Nov

Yesterday Ancestry.co.uk announced the completion of the British Army WW1 Service Records. Records relating for surnames from A to N were previously available on the website, but now the collection is complete.

These records are known as the “burnt documents” because 60% of the original records were destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War. Previously they were only available to view on microfilm at the National Archives (series WO363).

The contents of each service record varies greatly, as does the legibility of some of the pages, many of which show clear signs of fire damage. According to Ancestry the service records “contain a variety of information concerning all aspects of the army careers of those who completed their duty or were either killed in action or executed, including the soldier’s name, date and place of birth, address, next-of-kin, former occupation, marital status, medical records, service history, regiment number, locations of service and discharge papers“.

It is not just military service information that you can find in these records, it was in the service record of William James GASSON that I first discovered that his father (and my 2x great-grandfather) George Thomas GASSON had been admitted to a lunatic asylum.

I had a quick look last night, and it looks like the only close relation is William Henry TROWER (my 1st cousin 3 times removed) and their doesn’t seem to be anything unusual contained within his documents. I am sure other relations will come to light once I carry out a more thorough search.

Ambrose DRIVER and the day Sussex died

17 Aug

Today I was doing some sorting out of the photos I took last May over at Framfield, Sussex. I have been meaning to get all the gravestones sorted out, transcribed and where possible integrated into Family Historian. As I was separating the gravestone photos from general photos of the church and churchyard I took a closer look at the war memorial inside the church.

Framfield War Memorial (inside the church)

Framfield War Memorial (inside the church)

I hadn’t really paid much attention to it before, I think I checked for HEMSLEYs when I was there but there weren’t any, as I looked down the list I noticed the name Ambrose DRIVER. That name rang a bell and I was certain he was in my family tree.

I checked my family tree and sure enough I had an Ambrose DRIVER, my 2x great uncle. I checked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and there he was at the top of the search results, and he was listed as the son of Thomas and Ellen DRIVER my 2x great grandparents. No doubt about it.

I did the usual searches on ancestry.co.uk for a medal roll index card, service record and Soldiers Died in the Great War, picking up bits and pieces here and there. There appears to be no surviving service record (which is not surprising) but I now have a basic outline of his details, and perhaps I can find more with a search in the local newspapers. The Royal Sussex Living History Group website even has a photo of Ambrose’s gravestone at Bethune Town Cemetery, which is not really a substitute for going and visiting in person, but is probably the closest I will get for the time being.

Not only that but I also have a pretty good idea of the action in which he was wounded and which lead to his death. It appears the he would have been part of the Battle of the Boar’s Head on the 30th June 1916. This little known action has been overshadowed by the Battle of the Somme, but it became known as “the day Sussex died” because of the huge loss of life amongst the three battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment that were involved.

His battalion’s war diary is available online through The National Archives DocumentsOnline service, so I will probably be downloading a copy of that shortly, as well as checking in my local library for the regimental history.

In those famous words, whether it is in a church on Armistice Day, at a cemetery in some foreign field, in our hearts or in our family trees, “we will remember them”.

Framfield War Memorial

Framfield War Memorial

Work begins at Fromelles to recover the remains of WW1 soldiers

5 May

The BBC news website today features several reports on the work beginning near the French village of Fromelles to recover the bodies of hundreds of Australian and British soldiers killed during the First World War.

There are several videos showing the ceremony marking the beginning of the excavation work, following trial excavations last year which confirmed the presence of human remains.

After examination the remains will be carefully stored until they can be re-buried in individual graves in a newly built Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, to be known as the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. There is a very detailed Questions and Answers section on the CWGC’s remembering fromelles website concerning the plans for the new cemetery and the excavation itself.

Red Cross WW1 documents revealed

13 Mar

I first caught this story on the BBC Breakfast news programme this morning, and was intrigued and excited to learn about these previously unreleased documents.

Later there was an item on BBC Radio 4 about the discovery (http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7941000/7941422.stm). It is amazing to think these records have not been available to the public, will bring hope to many searching for WW1 ancestors and other military researchers.

A slightly more detailed look at some of the records appears on the BBC News website http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7940569.stm with historian Peter Barton describing some of the contents.

I shall watch this with great interest, patiently waiting for the records to appear online.

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