Tag Archives: family

Family History: World War One


Last month I posted about finding my great grandfather’s medal record from ancestry.co.uk in this post. When the article came to the attention of my aunt and uncle I discovered that they had the actual medals! Today I got to see them and plenty of other memorabilia from my great grandfather.

It appears he was in the forces (maybe as a reservist?) as far back as 1913 as he had some medals for 3rd places in an army shooting competition at both 300 yards and a quarter mile. Both these medals are from the 5th Battalion the Hampshire Regiment:

In 1914 he was serving at the front in the 5th London regiment as a private. The proof for this includes a letter published in the local paper in Bickerstaffe:

He also had been given a box of cigarettes and tobacco by Princess Mary and her charity for Christmas in 1914:

There are still original cigarettes and tobacco in the box! Charles was himself a pipe smoker and his pipe from the war had his friends’ names carved into it:

For his service in 1914 he would receive the 1914 Star:

At some point before his wedding in 1915 he received a rapid promotion to 2nd Lieutenant. We need to get his full records to find out more. This meant he moved from a clay dog tag to a metal one:

Whilst he was an officer he had a notebook he used to record both important information on explosives and details of the mess bills:

Apparently he helped train troops whilst recovering on sick leave and on one occasion had to act fast when a recruit pulled the pin out of a grenade but forgot to throw it…

By the end of hostilities he had earned two more service medals:

I am just bowled over to have been able to hold these precious pieces of my family history. I feel so lucky that my great grandfather came through the whole war when so many others didn’t. Now the challenge is to see if I can find out more about his service…

So go and ask your family if they have something lurking in a tin or box in the attic.

Skeletons in the Family Closet


Its an common belief that every family history will uncover at least one of the following:

  • lunacy
  • bankruptcy
  • illegitimacy

It is certainly true that you should be prepared to uncover family secrets that are revealed whilst you delve through historical records.

In my own family tree somethings were well known and talked about such as one ancestor being the son of his mother’s employer and not her husband. Another distant cousin had been jailed for manslaughter. One of my great grandfather’s died from the complications associated with syphilis (a much more common disease in the 19th century than you might think).

What we didn’t know until I requested my 2x great grandfather’s police employment records was that he was thrown out for embezzlement. I haven’t yet had a chance to visit Preston to discover the details of his crime to see quite how bad he was.

Another interesting find was brought to light when I ordered my 3x grandparents marriage certificate and their eldest daughter’s birth certificate. When I looked at the date her birth was recorded as the day after their marriage. It does make you wonder if they did make it down the aisle on time or they falsified her birth registration!

A couple of my ancestors have appeared in listings for bankruptcy as these were widely published back then and are well indexed now. At least one went bankrupt more than once so he obviously wasn’t a very good business man.

So keep your eyes open as you look in the records. Dates on certificates and church records can be very informative as can household composition on census returns.