Tuesday 19 June 2012

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.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome to be able to see and feel and hold your family history. Your great-grandfather probably thought that what he was doing wasn't very important, but as you realize, almost every detail of his life is cherished by his descendants. I just did some really deep diving in my family line and learned that I have an ancestor who was Lord of Caerleon Castle in Wales in the 12th century! I never knew I had Welsh blood in me, but a whole line is Welsh. I would love to visit Caerleon now so I can feel my history even more closely. Most of my line is British from the early 17th century and back (from all over - Newcastle to the Midlands to Devonshire to London and the East Coast. I need to get back to England and explore the rest of the country.

    Thanks for your post - I love reading these things.


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