Tag Archives: people

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.

Bring your tree to life


A family tree just filled with bare statistics and dates doesn’t make for an exciting read to share with a wider audience. They may well be impressed by the fact you have traced your family all the way back to William the Conqueror but there are ways to make the facts more interesting.

People

Include photographs of the people on your tree. This may be modern photographs, scans of old photographs or maybe a painting that you can capture on camera.

The photo below was taken at the wedding of my great grandparents in 1915. My great grandfather was obviously in the military at the time as he is pictured in uniform. If you are not aware of the date a photograph was taken then the fashions in the image can help you pinpoint the date.

1915 Wedding

My great grandparents wedding in 1915

Take care when scanning old photographs as they maybe damaged by the process.

Houses and places

Family homes and the places they lived are an important part of a family history. If you don’t already have photographs lurking in the family album then take the chance to go and visit these places and record them in photographs.

GG Granny's House

The house of my 2x great grandmother

You may also be able to take a video of the locality which can show how the different parts of the place relate to each other.

All of these things can really help bring your family history to life.