Select Page

November 2008

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the signing of the armistice which brought an end to the hostilities and bloodshed of the First World War on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Those killed in both World Wars, as well as many others over the centuries including those in more modern times, will be remembered this Remembrance Sunday so we felt it most fitting that we should make this a special Remembering Military Ancestors issue.

We have an excellent research guide to tracing your military ancestors and stories from members going back over 200 years, from the Battle of Trafalgar, the Peninsular War and the Crimea, through to the First and Second World Wars, covering the three services of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.

In two moving stories we take a look at World War Two from two very different perspectives, that of a soldier and of a child. We also look at an act of remembrance and a trip to the war cemeteries of Belgium to find the name of a great uncle on a memorial.

 For the My Town feature this month, we focus on Chatham and its naval connections which go back over 400 years.

 As a taster for our December issue, which has a theatrical theme, samesizedfeet explains why her growing collection of theatre memorabilia is her particular family treasure.

Memories of a WW2 Soldier

  It is only in very recent years that my father, now aged 93, has talked about his wartime experiences, and I know that this is common for a great many men who served in the Second World War. It is almost impossible for most of us to imagine what they went...

read more

A Child’s Story

I was five years old when war broke out, and lived in Newport, Wales, a prosperous industrial and docks town. As kids, we enjoyed life spending all of our time outside playing. The weather never ever seemed to bother us, and with not much traffic, the streets were our...

read more

Walter did well in a Naval career

This was just about the only thing which we knew about my great x2 uncle, Walter Coleman. He was part of my dad’s family, and a long letter written to Dad in the 1980s by his cousin gave lots of details about the family, including the above little snippet about their...

read more

Served at Trafalgar

While researching my family tree, I discovered that my great x5 uncle, William Murley, was at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805. He served as a midshipman on the ship 'HMS Belleisle', which was one of the first ships to encounter enemy fire during the...

read more

Fought in The Crimea

Edward Parker was my maternal great x2 grandfather and it has taken me years to research him, mostly because he was the first of many generations of soldiers serving in the Royal Artillery, plus his place of birth was transcribed incorrectly from early census returns...

read more

Salamanca 1812

{xtypo_dropcap}M{/xtypo_dropcap}y great x2 grandfather, Giles Mead, was baptised in Newton St Loe, Somerset, on 11th March 1781, the second known son of John Mead, a labourer, and his wife Lucy (née Keynton), who had married on 20th July 1774. Giles’...

read more

An ordinary war

My grandmother often talked of her husband’s family’s exploits in World War One. She seemed rather obsessed with a romantic image of war; men riding into battle, swords glinting in the early morning light, some to return in glory, and others left on the battlefield...

read more

Letter to a son

Recently a box of items belonging to John Leo O'Keefe (Jack) has surfaced during the clear out of a family home. He was born on 9th May 1895 in Temuka, New Zealand, and was the oldest of the nine children of Denis O'Keefe, an Irish immigrant from Co Kerry, and Mary...

read more

Traumatised by war

When I was young I had very little interest in my family. Like so many young people, all I was interested in was the here and now. I certainly never thought to ask questions. It wasn't until those people most dear to me had passed away that I began to think about who...

read more

Visit to Flanders

After discovering, through my family history research, that my great uncle, Charles Frederick Garrard, had been killed in World War One , I decided to take a day trip to Belgium and visit the Tyne Cot Cemetery where he is commemorated. We had a very early start,...

read more

Remembrance Day 1971

  I think that the most memorable Remembrance Day service that comes to mind must be the first year we lived in Singapore, which was in November 1971. At that time my husband, who was a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was attached to the...

read more

Awarded the DSO

George Hillis Nelson was born on 14th September 1876 at 62 Mersey Road, Widnes, the illegitimate son of Lydia Nelson. Lydia was the widow of James Wilkin Nelson, an engineer, who had died in 1871. The identity of George’s father is unknown, although the use of the...

read more

Grandad’s Badges

My 'family treasures' are my grandfather's cap badges from when he served as a Lance Sargeant in the 11th Royal Irish Rifles of the 109th Brigade of the 36th Ulster Division during World War One. After his death, both badges were left to my dad and on his death, to...

read more

The Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme took place in Northern France. You can read more in depth about it here: The Somme. The main reason for the battle was to relieve the French army who were suffering a severe German onslaught at Verdun. The great majority of Empire troops were...

read more

Air Commodore Iliffe Cozens

My father, Iliffe Cozens, was born in London on 13th March 1904. I wrote about his printing ancestors, The Richardson family of Greenwich, for the August issue of the magazine. However my father did not follow in their footsteps, instead he had a distinguished career...

read more

Chatham Dockyard

Chatham is situated on the River Medway in Kent and has connections to the Royal Navy going back to the 16th century. It was a small village until 1568, when it was established as a Royal Dockyard by Queen Elizabeth I, due to it's strategic location, as the political...

read more

Theatrical Memorabilia

I was not fortunate enough to be born into a family flush with heirlooms and mementoes which had been passed down through the generations. What few treasures there may have been were most likely sold in times of need (or more likely, in times of greed) by those...

read more