Monthly Archives: February 2015

Guest Blogger

compilation logo in frameIf you don’t want the hassle of running and maintaining your own blog, but you like the idea of informing like minded people. You may be one of the people I am looking for.

Have you an interesting story to tell about a a member of your family.  Tell about the trials and tribulations of family historians or a local history  snippet on people or places; someone involved in WWI, WWII or other conflicts, a man or woman who stayed at home to do ‘war work’ or even a someone who objected to war.

You could tell how to research in a specific place i.e. the National Archives.  It could be an historical event that you would like to tell about – something that happened in your locale.

Do you have first hand experience of research in America, Canada, Australia or Europe and can give advice on where to look, with a few hints and tips that someone with local knowledge has learnt over the years.

Have you any tips on how to store your family history.  Do you have any suggestions for storing photographs or other research materials.

Or have you been on a visit to another country to do some family history ‘stuff’,  to a war cemetery, a battlefield or some other interesting place – let me know.

The blog can be short, long or something in between but it must be your own work.

Contact me at    –    guestblogger@wakefieldfhs.org.uk

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Walter Hamilton Riach contd., by guest blogger David Oxlade

A very warm welcome to my first guest blogger, with some further information on Walter Hamilton RIACH and his family.

I was intrigued to see the recent blog concerning the background research on Walter Hamilton Riach, as I have been looking into him myself, as he and my father were cousins. If it is of interest to anyone, I may be able to add a little more to his and his family’s background.

Walter Hamilton Riach’s (WHR) mother was Mildred Agnes Riach nee Baker, (sister of Eveline Maude Baker (EMB), my paternal grandmother) who had indeed married Lt. Col (RE) Arthur Dundas Riach on June 3rd in Newton Abbott, Devon. WHR was born June 24th 1897, and as noted previously, joined the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders where he was Capt., 5th Bn, was captured in France and died of his wounds shortly before his 21st birthday – like so many of his generation! – on May 5th 1918; he is buried in Le Cateau Military Cemetery. In his earlier days he had been at school near Newton Abbott – Newton College, now no longer – where his brother and a number of his relatives were sent from India, including my father, Eric Robert Oxlade, his cousin, who was one year younger than WHR. He had then gone on to Haileybury Imperial Service College where he had been one of the first group of 23 pupils to join the College, which opened in 1912; 12 of his group of 23 were killed in the first war alone!

WHR had three siblings, two younger brothers, Lt Col. Robert Malcolm Riach, DSO, OBE, (RMR) born July 24th 1900, died Nov 7th 1962, who also joined the Cameron Highlanders and Lt. (RE) Wilfred Knight Riach, (WKR) born 8th August 1907, died 4th February 1928 while at RMQ Woolwich. WKR is buried at the Fort Pitt Military Cemetery in Kent, see photo below; how and why he died there, I have not been able to find out as yet. WHR also had a sister Margaret Stewart Riach, (MSR) born Jan 27th 1902. In 1911 the two younger Riachs (MSR and WKR) were listed in the census that year as staying with their mother and my grandfather Henry John Wilson Oxlade (their Uncle) at his house in Colliers Down, Caterham.

WHR’s mother Mildred Agnes RIACH nee Baker (usually known as “Agnes”) was born on 22nd Sept 1876, and died 14th June 1953; she was buried 18th June in St Peters Church, Yateley, Hampshire; her grave is located close to a tree behind the building attached to the back of the church, see photo below. While in England she seems to have lived most of the time in Cornwall, where exactly I don’t know, but letters from her father confirm that she was there and when her husband Arthur Hamilton Dundas Riach was in England on home leave, that is where they lived, although at various times her husband gave his address as 30, Mattock Lane, Ealing.

Her headstone reads:

riach mildred agnes wo arthur hamilton riach

Grave of Mildren Agnes Riach by D Oxlade

In Loving Memory of / Mildred Agnes / widow of Lt. Col. Arthur Hamilton Dundas Riach R.E./  Died 14 June 1953 / Aged 77 years.

riach robrt malcolm

Grave of Robert Malcolm Riach by D Oxlade

WHR’s younger brother, Lt Col. Robert Malcolm Riach (“Malcolm”), DSO, O.B.E., was born on July 24th 1900 and died on 7th Nov 1962. Also of the Cameron Highlanders like his older brother, Malcolm married in 1939 Marjorie Joan Howarth. His DSO was awarded in July 1940. RMR and his wife are buried at the Colvend Parish church in Dumfries and Galloway.

An interesting reference to RMR’s military career (and mentioning others of his family) is this extract from the description of an auction sale of various militaria:   ‘Robert Malcolm Riach enlisted on the 18th December in 1919 and was appointed as 2nd Lieutenant at Aldershot and the following year moved with the 2nd Bn to Ireland where he was wounded during the SInn feinn operations. He transferred to the 1st Bn in 1925 and served in India and Burma until 1929 when he was seconded to the 1st Nigerian Regiment until 1934 when he re-joined the 2nd Bn proceeding to Palestine the following year. He was transferred back to the 1st in 1935 and later completed a tour of duty at Cameron Barracks until the outbreak of war when he rejoined the 1st Bn. Embarking with the Bn for France he commanded “A” Company with distinction and was one of the survivors at Dunkirk. Awarded the D.S.O. (LG 11/2/ 1940). Commanded 2nd Bn Liverpool Scottish in May 1941 Awarded MID 29 April 1941 Awarded MID 10 May 1945 Awarded O.B.E. 24th Jan 1946. Commanded 4/5th Bn in 1947 until his retirement in 1950 as Lieutenant Colonel. riach broochBUT……take a good look at this lovely brooch and note that this is the pre 1881 version with the letters “LXX1X” beneath the sphinx. The Riach family have given great service to 4 their Regiment and to their Country. Now then, just who first owned this glorious brooch? It was made before 1881 so my guess is that perhaps RMR’s Great great Grand father might be a contender’.

Robert Malcolm RIACH’s engagement – and subsequent disengagement – seems to have been a matter of public record as well, his fiancée Dorothy Spicer being described as “one of England’s most beautiful airwomen” :  (From the Sydney Herald in August 1934: nla.gov.au/nla.newsarticle17103972; see also the Straits Times 30th July 1934 page 15 for a longer and slightly more colourful version)

Women’s Air-Taxi Business. There is only one air-taxi business in England, and it is conducted at Hunstanton, Norfolk, by two women, Miss Dorothy Spicer, the first woman to gain the Air Ministry’s B certificate for ground engineers, and her partner, Miss Pauline Gower, daughter of Sir Robert Gower, M.P., the second woman in England to obtain the Air Ministry’s B pilot certificate. Miss Spicer is young and very attractive, and became engaged some time ago to Captain Robert Malcolm Riach, of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, who has just arrived home from serving in Africa, naturally desirous of claiming his bride. But Miss Spicer has broken off her engagement. So the three-seater Moth of the Spicer-Gower partnership, the former as mechanic and the latter as pilot, is still available for passengers.

Grave of Wilfred Knight Riach

Grave of Wilfred Knight Riach

As mentioned above, WHR’s younger brother Wilfred Knight Riach died while at RMQ, and is buried at Fort Pitt Cemetery in Kent.

WHR’s sister Margaret Stewart RIACH (“Stewart”), was born January 27th 1902, and married Dennis Noel Venables, born 24th (some records state 20th) December 1898, Lt. Commander, RN, on June 23rd 1928. He was commissioned in August 1914, made Lt on Nov 15th 1919 and retired 15th Nov 1927 as Cmdr. He was obviously called up again and was mentioned in despatches 11th Nov 1941, awarded the DSC on Jan 1st 1943 and bar on Jan 23rd 1945. He commanded HMS Alresford and HMS Bagshot, both minesweepers, and HMS Glenearn an Infantry Landing Ship.

Margaret Stewart Riach and Dennis Noel Venables had three children: Robert Malcolm Venables, born 4th March 1935; Katherine Patience Venables who married an architect, Richard Watson, with whom she had a daughter and Hugh Spencer Venables, born ? and died 12th January 1946.

Hopefully the above will fill in some more details for anyone looking for background on this branch of the Riach family!

David A Oxlade – Guest Blogger

The original blog about Walter Hamilton Riach can be found here

If you have any further information on this family, or your family tree also ties in with these people, please let me know / Carol

Old Etonian Killed in Action WW2

Eton College, Old Etonian served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps

KRRC War Memorial Eton College

KRRC War Memorial Eton College

It was Eton College War Memorial, many years ago,  that started me transcribing war memorials and I seem to have gathered a vast collection of photographs along the way – I hate to say that many still need transcribing, but at the moment another project has to take priority.

But in the meantime, I will venture back to Eton College and a young man who I met (virtually) along the way.

When I transcribed the Eton College War Memorial, all those years ago, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a relative of one of the men whose name is carved in………….. I was going to say stone but I think it is in fact marble.  A few emails went back and forth, with little bits of extra information and a photograph – it is so nice to know who you are writing about and it was my pleasure to be able to visit the grave, photograph the headstone and send over to the family.

It also appears, that when doing a little research for the young man concerned I found out that his grandfather Hugh Scott 8th of Gala)  was born in Bellie nr Elgin and his grandmother (Elizabeth Isabella Gordon) hailed from St Andrews, also in Elgin – small world as my mothers family also come from that area of Morayshire.

Who am I talking about, well it’s Henry John Alexander Scott Makdougall who born on 6th February 1901, the son of Hugh James Elibank Scott-Makdougall of Makerstoun and his wife Agnes Jenkinson.

Henry was educated at Eton College, leaving in November 1918.  He sat exams for Sandhurst College on 11th November 1918.  Henry was commissioned into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps with the serial number 12838, gaining the rank of Captain in the 60th Rifles (KRRC) in 1930.

In 1934 his father, Hugh died and on 2nd April 1935. Henry legally changed his name to Henry John Alexander Scott Makdougall, becoming Henry John Alexander Makdougall Scott, 11th of Gala.  This was recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms  and on 2nd April of the same year his arms were matriculated.

Henry served in WWII and I was told by a family member that  it was on a visit back to his family home, Gala House, with his mother, other family members and staff stood outside,  that he got in his car and drove off.  His mother waved him away and said that would be the last time she would see her son.

Eton College, Old Etonian, who served in World War 1 and World War 2. Served in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps., killed in action in Calais

Major Scott of Gala courtesy of his family

Captain Scott and one Second Lieutenant Scott were involved in fighting the enemy on the streets of Calais during May of 1940.  The story goes that one was on one side of the street and the other was across the road.  Both were killed on the same day and there seemed to be some confusion about who was where and what they were doing.  These details don’t seem to matter.  But what does matter is the men – Henry was 39 years old when he was killed on 26th May 1940 and his comrade was only 20 years old and both lie within the walls of Calais Southern Cemetery and rest a distance, probably, as wide as a street from each other.

So it looks like a mother’s premonitions came true!

Eton College, Old Etonian, who served in World War 1 and World War 2. Served in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps., killed in action in Calais

Major Scott of Gala C Sklinar©

The Probate Calender for England and Wales reads :- SCOTT Henry John Alexander MakDougall of Gala House, Galashiels died 26 May 1940.  Confirmation of Francis Gillies Sutherland writer to the Signet Philip Beaumont Frere solicitor and John Douglas Hamilton dickson writer to the Signet,  Sealed Llandudno 28 July 1941.

Eton College, Old Etonian, who served in World War 1 and World War 2. Served in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps., killed in action in Calais

Galashiels War Memorial C Sklinar ©

Henry, as well as being mentioned on the Eton King’s Royal Rifle Corps memorial, Henry also has his name on the Galashiels memorial to the fallen.

As I mentioned another Scott, it seems only fair and right to see who he is too.  Richard Oswald Scott, was the son of Oswald Arthur Scott, DSO (1918) and his wife Hermione Monica, whom he later divorced.  Here it seems there is another local, well reasonably local, connection – Oswald Arthur married Hermione Monica Ferrand on the 19th of May 1917 in All Saints Church, Bingley.  Hermione’s father was William Ferrand, Esquire, living at St Ives, Bingley.  Oswald Arthur was 23 years old and a Captain in the Hampshire Regiment, living at Rotherfield Park, Alton. Witnesses to the union were W Ferrand, Patricia M Scott, Geoffrey T Scott and William Harris(?) Scott.   Oswald, served as 1st Secretary, Counsellor, Ambassador in Madrid, Baghdad, Lisbon, Finland and in the Foreign Office.  In 1951 he was Knighted (KCMG)

Richard, their son,  was born in the St Georges Hanover Square Registration District of London in the June Quarter of 1920 – one of four children.

Eton College, Old Etonian, who served in World War 1 and World War 2. Served in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps., killed in action in Calais

Lieut R O Scott C Sklinar ©

During WWII he, like Henry, served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and became known as 95645, 2nd Lieutenant R O Scott.  The men a few connections, both came from landed families and both had links to Eton College.  While looking for snippets of information about Richard, I came across his brother – Thomas Roland Scott 4th April 1923 also served during the war.  Thomas served as Flying Officer, 115515 in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.  On 22nd of October 1942, he too was killed and he rests in Porthmadog Public Cemetery, Caernarvonshire, with 17 other casualties from both wars.

King’s Royal Rifle Corp Eton Memorial can be found here

1911 census occupations

Just a short blog this time, thank goodness you might say!

Have you ever been a little annoyed that you can’t read what the occupation of someone in the 1911 census was.  It is either unreadable, has been struck through or written  over, but what you can see clearly are the 3 numbers written in red, or some other colour  by the enumerator.
1911 extract

This seems to be a good example of the numbers coming in quite handy.  The salt hawker, simple enough but the occupation of the lodger.  At first glance, the occupation looks like music as there is an ‘dot’ over what looks like an i, but the wording in brackets, monthly, why would someone involved with music be monthly.

A look down the list for 437 and it gives a totally different meaning to the occupation.  The reference of 437 is listed as ‘sick nurses, invalid attendants and other’. The wording looks more like music than nurse, but the enumerator must have been right!!

To view the census codes click here you may find them some help when using the 1911 census as a research tool.

1911 census code sheet

1911 census code sheet