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WW1 local memorial research

Discussion in 'History' started by penyard52, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    Does anyone use their local memorial as a starting point for some research on a name found there? Would like to take the group to the local war memorial and then come back to do some research but other than using the CWGC website not sure where to head and what to do with the information.
    Any and all thoughts gratefully received!
    Thanks
     
  2. Hi,
    Does anyone use their local memorial as a starting point for some research on a name found there? Would like to take the group to the local war memorial and then come back to do some research but other than using the CWGC website not sure where to head and what to do with the information.
    Any and all thoughts gratefully received!
    Thanks
     
  3. penyard
    Starting with the CWGC information, you could link it to researching how the person joined up and the battle they died in.
    If your school does a WWI Battlefield tour, you could see if any of the names on your local memorial are buried in the cemetaries on your itinary, or died in the battles covered in your visit (we did something similar for my daughter's school a couple of years ago).
    CH
     
  4. MarkJH

    MarkJH New commenter

    If you have access to Ancestry you can see if the soldier's Service Record survived the blitz in World War II (about 1/3 to 1/2 did). This would give you a lot more personal information. Local newspapers printed obituaries, often with photographs. Some are very detailed. Once you know the soldier's unit it is possible to research the action in which he died, using for example battalion War Diaries, a selection of which are now online at the National Archives site and detailed accounts such as the Official History. I've been doing this for a long time but I admit that you do have to contend with the rather arcane terminology and structure of the British Army, which can be confusing to a beginning researcher. Useful help on this can be found on the excellent 'Long Long Trail' website: http://www.1914-1918.net/
    I have used names from our school and local war memorials, relatives of pupils on the tour etc as the basis of the Battlefields Tours I have run for nearly 20 years. Each year reveals fascinating new stories. It is a very good idea to let pupils do as much of the research as possible but be aware that beyond a basic level it does become a quite complex undertaking. Even simply using CWGC or the Soldiers Died database I have found that unwary reserachers can easily latch onto the wrong 'Frederick Brown' or whoever and end up on a wild goose chase.
     
  5. Once you have got a name from a war memorial look on the CWGC Debt of Honour website and see if you can locate the person, (difficult I know if you have several with the same name and initial as you must be 100% accurate), this will also give you his unit and also his place and date of death. Now it gets interesting as you need to go to the National Archives at Kew and look at the units War Diary for that particular period as this tells you where they were and what they were doing. Be warned that unless the person was an officer it was rare for them to be named.
    You have not said where in the UK you are. I am in the West Midlands and hoping to write a book on those named on some of the war memorials and buried in war graves in a number of cemeteries in my area have managed to gather a lot of information.In the case of one member of a Bomb Disposal Company of the Royal Engineers who was killed in 1941 I am sure I know when the bomb on which he was working was dropped and even the types of fuses that were in the bomb.
    If you find from the CWGC website that the person died as a Prisoner of the Japanese on the Burmas Siam Railway please let me know and I will give you details of a very good website in Thailand from where you can get lots of information.
    Hope this is of interest to you.
    rb211
     
  6. MarkJH

    MarkJH New commenter

    As I point out on my earlier post a selection of World War One Unit Diaries are now avallable online on the National Archives website and can be downloaded for a small fee. They can be difficult to decvipher and interpret.
     
  7. Thanks so much for all the really useful tips you've given me so far. I'm hoping to do a trial run at the start of next term, so I may be back for more help!
    Thanks again
     

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