Monthly Archives: May 2015

London – where the bombs landed

I wrote a short article about this resource a few years ago, so I thought I would give you all a chance to have a look.

A jointly funded project, Bomb Sight, has been created to map the London WW2 bomb census between 7 October 1940 and 6 June 1941, which had previously only been available at the National Archives.

Bomb Site map of London within M25

Bomb Site map of London within M25

Visitors to the sight can explore the map by dragging, section by section which can be quite hard to find your way around due to the very large number of red circles – just shows how Londoners suffered, or enter a street or area.  By clicking on one of the circles you can see what type of bomb hit the area.  The read more section can sometimes give a lot more details i.e. current address, people’s memories and sometimes photographs

Take for example one of Londons tourist attractions, Buckingham Palace, within the period covered by the census over 25 bombs fell within the boundary of the palace or very close. The Tower of London and Tower Bridge also feared no better with over 15 bombs landing close.

Taking a look at the map, so that you can see all of the London are, it seems there was no peace for anyone inside the M25, even up to St Albans, Hatfield and Hoddesdon.

A drop down menu gives you the options of, the first day of the Blitz, street view, anti-invasion sights, 1940’s bomb map.  Another menu gives you the option of seeing the first night, weekly or aggregate bomb census.

Why not grab yourself a cuppa, take five minutes and explore.  It does not matter if you have family from the London area or not – I guarantee you will spend more time there than you planned.

Interactive WW2 map

Aberdeen was bombed during WW2 for three years.  This devastated those living and working in the area.

In 1943, according to the Press and Journal, was the deadliest attack killing nearly 100 people and injuring many.

At one time in the air 10 Luftwaffe Dornier 217 bombers circled the district, then swooped low, dropping bombs with no regard life or limb.  Killing, maiming from a distance and leaving panic and trauma in its wake.

The city saw its last raid in 1943 but had seen 141 others that were classed as minor.

Now an interactive map has been developed to show where and when the bombs fell and if your families life was impacted by these events.

 

 

 

A Poacher’s Tale is not always happy one!

A Poacher’s Tale is not always happy one!

A few years ago, well it seems like that but is probably longer, I was given a box of photographs to scan and do something with. Some of the carte de visite’s had that were handed to me in a shoebox had names or a clue to who they were.  While others, the only clue was the name of the photographer and the place where they had their studio.

The box held a wonderful time capsule of images, with many having a Morley, West Yorkshire connection, but others linked by the photographer to places as far away as America and Canada, but that is another tale.

James Clough

James Clough

One of the pictures was handed over on its own………why?  Well, I soon found out.  I was asked it I could find out a little more about the person who would be  forever the age when the image was taken.  The reverse of the carte gave a name – James Clough, and I was also given a clue that he was a gamekeeper, that would also be suggested by the fact in the photograph he was holding a rabbit and a gun – just a few clues! It was also mentioned that James had been killed, but no idea when – now that would surely give me something to get my teeth into!

So, off to find a gamekeeper – James, found in the 1881 census as a gamekeeper. I now had 1819/20 as as approximate time of birth (61 years old), with Morley being given as his place of birth and confirmation of his occupation.  He is living with his wife Mary, from West Ardsley, aged 56 and sons George A and Scott, aged 10 and 8, both being born in Soothill.

Going back in time to find James as a young man, back to 1851.  James was living at Northgate, Dewsbury, working as a blacksmith with  Martha, aged 27 from Dewsbury, as his wife – looks like things could get complicated.  Martha was Martha Pickles who he married in Dewsbury All Saints in July 1839 after banns were read on the 7th, 14th and 21st of July.

24 jul 1858

Lancaster Gazette 24 July 1858

Forward in time with a search through newspapers came up with a bit of a surprise!  The Lancaster Gazette of 24th of July 1858.  The small headline in the newspaper column read ‘Daring Outrage by Poachers’.  James along with three others appeared before Wakefield Magistrates in July 1858 for night poaching in West Ardsley near Wakefield accompanied by violence. Three gamekeepers were keeping watch on the land owned by Joseph Ellis, esq.  The poachers were seen and followed by the gamekeepers and their dog. If you read the article you will see what the reporters said in the paper.  But it must have made a stir to be reported in Lancaster.

Leeds Mercury June 14 1859

Leeds Mercury June 14 1859

1859, only a year after being accused of poaching, James is now in the papers, and we see the first reference of him being a gamekeeper.

A few years late, 1861, James is living as a lodger in the home of Joseph Whittaker – The Joseph Whittaker who he was caught poaching with, in 1858. James is listed as married but his wife is not mentioned.

1871 came around and James is living in Soothill, with Sarah, his wife and son George Albert, aged 4 months.  By now James is 51 and Sarah, is 38 – who is Sarah his wife?  What happened to Martha?  There is a death of Martha Clough in the March Qtr of 1852 and a marriage of a James Clough to Sarah Westmorland on 23rd of July 1866 in Dewsbury Parish Church.  James was a widower aged 47 and the son of William Clough, while Sarah was a spinster aged 34, the daughter of Charles Westmorland.

1881 – James is still living in the Soothill area but now quite close to the Babes in the Wood, he is 61 years old. He now tells that he is a gamekeeer and living with his wife – Mary.  Who is Mary, you may ask?  Well, here we go again.  It appears that Sarah died in 1874 as there is a burial entry for her in Hanging Heaton churchyard on 13th of November 1874.

The year of 1884 brings another turn-up for the books – James Clough aged 64 married Leah Delbridge, a 53 year old widow, daughter of Thomas Griffiths,  on 7th January 1884 again in Dewsbury Parish Church, I hope by now he received a discount!

Hanging Heaton church copyright C Sklinar

Hanging Heaton church copyright C Sklinar

I hope life was going well for the couple who had seen the loss of their spouses, in James’ case he had seen the death of more than one wife.  But, life has a habit of throwing things at you.  It was in October of 1885 that James Clough, gamekeeper was killed by poachers.

James was laid to rest on the 19th of October 1885 in Hanging Heaton Churchyard.

Irish Catholic Church Records Going Online

Irish National Archives, Dublin

Irish National Archives, Dublin

Tracing your family history in Ireland is to get a lot easier as the National Library of Ireland getrs ready  to give FREE online access to its Catholic Church records collection from this summer (2015) according to IrishCentral.

Genealogy expert John Grenham wrote in The Irish Times that it is “almost impossible to overstate the importance” of what will happen.

The records that will go on line mainly consist of baptismal and marriage records, the earliest of which dates back to the 1700’s and cover the 1,091 parishes in the country.  This will enable the millions of people worldwide to access their Irish roots much easier.  The records are currently available at the National Library of Ireland on microfiche and therefore you need to visit in person or hire a researcher but demand has put a great strain on this service and the cost of hiring a professional researcher has put these records out of many people’s price bracket.

For many years volunteers have been working to make these records ready for digitization and online research.  These records could be the most important records to go online since the 1901 and 1911 census for Ireland at the Irish National Archives.

 

Voluntary Aid Detachment volunteers

Over 90,000 people volunteered for the British Red Cross at home and overseas during the Great War, providing vital aid to naval and military forces and caring for the sick and wounded. County branches of the Red Cross had their own Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) made up of both men and women. The VAD’s work included such jobs as nursing, transport, rest stations, working parties and auxiliary hospitals. They ran libraries, did air raid duty, and a service that is still being used today – Missing and wounded service.

As women volunteered for jobs normally undertaken by men prior to the war it enabled over 11,000 men to be released for military service of some sort.

Agatha Christie record. London Evening Standard

Agatha Christie record. London Evening Standard

Did you know that Agatha Christie, volunteered for the Red Cross before publishing her first novel in 1920 and worked in a Torquay hospital. Her work, dispensing drugs, gave her an insight into poisons – this information she used in her books. Vera Brittain, famous for her ‘Testament of Youth’, joined the VAD in 1915 and by 1917 was working in France. Enid Bagnold, of National Velvet fame, served in London. Did you also know that E M Forster, novelist, critic and essayist, was a pacifist and instead of fighting he worked with the Red Cross. Lady Diana Manners, mentioned in an earlier article, – reputedly the most beautiful woman in England at the time and it was expected that she should marry the Prince of Wales. Her mother was not enamored at her joining the VAD. Diana stated in her memoirs, The Rainbow Comes and Goes. “She explained in words suitable to my innocent ears that wounded soldiers, so long starved of women, inflamed with wine and battle, ravish and leave half-dead the young nurses who wish only to tend them,” The Duchess relented “… knew, as I did, that my emancipation was at hand,” Diana says, and goes on to admit, “I seemed to have done nothing practical in all my twenty years.” The VAD plunged her and other young ladies into four years that would change their lives forever. I’ll dot in a few more volunteers further down the page.

Deaths – even though the VADs were non-combatant, they suffered many deaths. During the war,it is estimated that 128 nursing members and over 100 other VAD members not all directly working for the Red Cross died or  were killed. The Roll of Honour contains records of the deaths of 498 Joint War Committee members. This figure includes 8 VADs who died as a result of the sinking of the SS Osmanieh on 31 December 1917. The vessel was contracted by the British navy and was struck by a mine laid by the German submarine UC34 and sank, killing 199 people. They are remembered at the Alexandria (Hadra) War memorial cemetery. The most common cause of death of the VADs was pneumonia caused by Spanish flu.

An obituary in the Red Cross Journal, 1918 stated:

Miss Elger died on February 10th from pneumonia following influenza… For two and a half years she was a devoted and conscientious worker at Clayton Court Hospital, where her loss is felt most keenly by all who knew her. Clayton Court, it will be remembered, was most generously placed at the disposal of the Red Cross by Mr and Mrs Elger early in the war. After doing so much to help their country, it seems hard that they should have to bear this further personal sacrifice”.

The Red Cross has recently transcribed personnel records and at the moment surnames starting with the letters A and B are currently available to search. Volunteers are still working to update the site with more names. One such volunteer was Achsah Bradley of Westbourne, St Andrews Avenue, Morley. Her record card shows that she had originally lived at Denshaw, Morley. Achsah served from March 1917 to January of 1919. Her work as a Special Service Probationer, a pantry worker, was at Roundhay Auxiliary Military Hospital, Leeds, where she worked part time. In total she worked 3,920 hours, which roughly equates to nearly 40 hours per week for her 2 years’ service.

Thornes House, Wakefield home of the Milne-Gaskell's

Thornes House, Wakefield home of the Milne-Gaskell’s

Another volunteer was Lady Constance Milnes Gaskell, of Thornes House, Wakefield.

One of the gentlemen who volunteered was Retired Major Ernest James Gibson Berkley of 70 Camberwell Road, London, S.E.5.  Major Gibson served from June 1918 until June of the following year, working as a Divisional Inspector, with duties at the P.M.O. Hospital, and Southward V.A.D. Hospital.  He had been awarded the M.B.E. and O.B.E.  Major Berkley, in 1911 was aged 49.  He gave his occupation as ‘SURGEON MAJOR R A M C T CAPTAIN HUNSBURY’. Information about him can be found in The Gazette here and here.  Probate for Major Berkley tells that he died on 30th of April 1928 and Probate (to Barclays Bank) revealed that he left £20813 5s 7d. His wife will can be found here.

Source – The Red Cross archives

Four years of our war website

Batley Lads – Roll of Honour of Batley Grammar School – Book Review

We recently published an article by Guest Blogger, Philip L Wheeler, who wrote about Drighlington ‘pub lads ‘ who gave their lives during WWI.  Well I am pleased to say that Philip, with three others has written a book about the lads from Batley Grammar School, who died in the Great War 1914 – 1918, with the support of the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund.

Batley Lads cover

Batley Lads cover

The paperback book, A4 in size contains over 300 pages. Before you visit the pages of the young men, you are invited to become familiar with life in Edwardian Batley and Batley Grammar School at the time leading up to 1914 enlistment and the period when the ‘old boys’ started to enlist.

You are then introduced to the 61 fallen boys and one headmaster from the school who paid the ultimate sacrifice, by a full colour page bearing their rank and name, lifespan and regiment, with at least one image per entry. Each of these pages has a selection from a poem or prose for example:-

“Earth has waited for them, All the time of their growth Fretting for their decay: Now she has them at last! In the strength of their strength suspended—-stopped and held.” Isaac Rosenberg 1917.

The book is easy to read, and is overflowing with information about the men and their families; what was happening during their war and where they now rest.   One of the men mentioned and highlighted on the back cover is Private Horace Waller, V.C., born in 1896, he served in the KOYLI 10th Batt.  Horace died on the 10th of April 1917 aged 20 from wounds received while throwing bombs at the enemy.  It was a result of these actions and actions earlier in the day that he was awarded The Victoria Cross.  Another young man was Corporal Gilbert Pattison, who served in the Royal Flying Corps.

The Epilogue, goes on to tell how the school and other schools continued after the war and bringing the school to the future, hoping that the current pupils will visit the cemeteries of their fallen.

Finally, there are the resources and index.

If you have a connection to Batley Grammar School, or the Batley area, this is a wonderful book to ‘pop in and out’ of.  All in all, this book has been researched in depth by Philip, an ex-pupil of Batley Grammar School and his co-writers – this is a book to be proud and well worth the £10 price tag!

If you would like a copy of this very informative book please email :  info@projectbugle.org.uk

Lizzie Riach’s little black book

A while ago I wrote about my Aunt Dolly’s autograph book, a book that I had looked through many times as a child, pondering over the small painting and pencil sketches and wondering who had taken the time to write within its pages.

Original white heather

Original white heather

While looking through my ‘stuff’, mainly photographs, I found my mum’s autograph book. Many of Aunt Dolly’s entrants had been nurses at Stanley Royd, family and friends, mum’s was different and at the moment it seems fitting to write about the people in Lizzie Riach’s little black book, as the other day it was 70 years since the war ended  in Europe and most of the writers in the little book are members of the forces.  Wouldn’t it be nice for a relative to find their entry now, years, many years later!  Or what would be even better, would be for someone who wrote their little dittie to see it  – and wouldn’t it be fantastic if they remembered my mum!

Opening the book, Jimmy (James 427), in March 1943, also wants the privilege of being first.  The following page has two twigs of white heather still sticking to the page by their original tape.  Eve Cook, writes simply ‘ To one of the nicest girls I’ve known, Best always’, she goes on to say ‘not so primitive as I sound’.  What did that mean?  Obviously, it meant something to Eve and my mum.

To Ann, wishing you all the happiness you deserve – for they who look only for the best in everyone they meet are too rare’ .  Neville Sibley, Dunearn House, 26 Jan. ’43.  Who was Neville and where is or was Dunearn House?  That was an easy one, a quick google, and there it was!  I know it is the correct one, Dundearn House, Burntisland, as mum served in the A.T.S. at Burntisland during WWII. Now to answer the question ‘Was Dunearn House a billet during the war or did it have some other purpose.

Neville Sibley

Neville Sibley

Dunearn House, source not known but acknowledged

Dunearn House, source not known but acknowledged

No drawing, no little dittie or simple sentiment, just a name – Clark D L, O.F.C., 501 Hy. AA bty, Donibristle Point, 19/4/1943.  And so back to Google maps to find that Donibristle is just inland from Burntisland, but where Donibristle Point is, Google is keeping that a secret! ‘In the parlour there were three. Ann, the parlour lamp and he.  Two’s company without a doubt.  So the parlour light went out’. Nan Cunningham penned that on 17th January 1943.

‘What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult to each other.  In your golden chain of friendship, regard me as a link’. W Blackwood, A.T.S., who is she?  Could she be called Winifred?

Audrey Kettle

Audrey Kettle

The next few words are from Audrey Kettle, H.P.C., Notts (mum was also posted there and it was there that she met her future husband).  What Audrey wrote, although then, was meant in all innocence and probably is featured on many pages, in 100’s of autograph books, the wording in this politically correct culture, would be taken in the wrong context by a few.  But needless to say, Audrey’s words made me smile – all based on the sound of words and a space in the right place!  A google search brought up the Burma Star Association website telling me that HPC was Home Postal Service.

 An earlier entry for J M that gave nothing away as to who J M was now, further in the book, ‘a lonely spot’, they now tell they are at Arlands (?), Fochabers.   Later in the book I may find out a little more.  Back south of the border to Nottingham and Joan (A.T.S.). ‘Happy memories of the “Vic” at Nottingham’.  What memories, what happened at the Vic, that mum and Joan shared in 1944? Was the ‘Vic’ a theatre, was it a pub, one this is for sure it is not a shopping centre.

A pretty pencil sketch of a lady wearing a flowing, frilly dress and bonnet.  In the background

P Gregg

P Gregg

birds flutter and drink from a birth bath.  The artist is P Gregg – who was she, I am presuming a lady drew this.

It is sad that modern technology has done away with the autograph book, as within the pages, filled with words, poems, all written in different styles of writing………making the book very personal to the writer and the owner of the book……many memories held within those pages.

S D Williamson, 2 Forest Crescent, Thornton, Fife writes ‘Health, Happiness and the Best of Luck, where every you may be….. Mac’.  Looking again at the page – the name and address are in a different pen and a different hand.  Conclusion……..they are two people, Mac and S D Williams of Fife.  Now another question…..who is Mac?

Still only about half way through and Sig med, Rita, A.T.S, on 17th of January 1943, writes ‘ Down the street there walked a peach.  Who was both pretty and fair. A stealthy look, a half closed eye, and the Peach, became a Pair’.

D Watson 'Wot no!'

D Watson ‘Wot no!’

Another page with two entries, this time both from men.  ‘We’ll miss you at camp, Ann. how much, we only know, but your, smile, your wink in our memories lingers, where-ever you go’ A starred Romeo………..D Watson.  At the foot of the page and just managing to say ‘Wishing you all the best of Love……Josh, Wot no Kisses’.

Frank Smith writes ‘Thank God for girls like you Ann.  I shall miss your happy smile, and with you all you wish yourself, where-ever you may go’.

‘Long may you live! Long may you love! and long may you be happy’. S W Lewis wrote on the now faded and blotched page on 19th of January 1943.

Every autograph book has ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, honey is sweet and so are you’, this time written by  E Aitken of 11 Manse Avenue, Whitburn, West Lothian.

The next entry came as quite a surprise, well not the wording but who had written the words.  Firstly, the entry……….’Life is but a great hotel, a hand shake and our au-revoir.  We’ll meet again if all is well.  When we have passed the open door’.  Now who wrote the words.   They were  written by a man who would have had to travel many miles  – John Wilson, Gladstone, Queensland, 5.11.45.  As to whether John was in the services, I have no idea, but it would be nice to know if he made it back to Gladstone.

Blantyne Camp magazine

Blantyne Camp magazine, image Secret Scotland

‘Women darn their husbands socks, with never ceasing care.  But when they get a whole in theirs, they buy another pair’.  So true, and written by Irvin Skelton(?), 501 Bty, R.A., Blantyne Farm Camp, 24 May 1943.  Turning over the faded yellow page Joan Hemingway, A.T.S. wrote ‘Ann now, Ann ever, Riach now but not for ever. This book I see in later years, I wonder what your name will be’.

On the 6th of May 1945, Helen F Caldie, A.T.S., H.P.C., R.E., Wittingham, wrote about friendship being a chain that is never broken.   A greeting from A Hepburn, (42 Land S***d), Kirklands, Fochabers, written in a pen that seems to have had better days!  While Len, thanks Ann, for the letters she brought and her smiling happy face that added to the happiness contained within the envelopes from home.

The 24th of February 1946, two young men named Joe and Ted, wrote ‘Remember the Paiaise, Nottingham that afternoon?  We kept the ‘Poles’ up alright didn’t we!!!‘.  Also on the same page, but tucked into a corner, Mary wished Ann, her old pal, all the best.  Barbara, signing herself (Lady) Barbara, wrote ‘I wish I had someone to love me. Someone to call me his own. Someone to buy me chocolate. As I’m sick of buying my own!’.  Barbara writes from Craigend, Bathgate, West Lothian on 23rd Jan 1943.

Other entries are from J Mathieson, 69 Mid Street, Keith and G Newton Burntisisland, 16 January 1943. Turning the faded pink page, Val Peek, A.T.S., wrote on 18 January 1946, ‘Very best of luck from a ‘little’ Cockney girl’.  Well at least we have a clue as to where Val originated from.  Another entry is written by S Frost, West Melton, on 26 October 1945.

A little saucy poem follows ‘Ann, had a little lamb, she also had a bear.  I’ve often seen her little lamb, but never seen her bare!’ ‘Wishing you all you wish yourself, Rita M Cromrie, 24 February 1946’.  Doesn’t the English language make you chuckle at how two words pronounced the same can mean something totally different, and so many autograph books have similar entries.

Signaller Rita Walker penned her effort on 17th of January 1943, while over the page, Frae Rosie Vernon of the A.T.S., wrote about roses being red. No poem, no greeting came from the next page but details that looked as though they should be on an envelope – Pte D.Abbott, A.T.S., 501 (M) Bty R.A., Woodend Camp, Helensburgh. 

A E Walker

A E Walker

An entry on one of the faded yellow pages is from A.E. Walker, ex-trooper. Written on an angle in very small writing and in Italian (?) and using Google translator for one word, I think that A.E. Walker wrote the following ‘Un notta in Campo Concentraimento di Prigioanieri de Guerra’ – something about a prisoner of war camp, possibly.

Joan Bradshaw and Mary Wilkinson, both serving with the A.T.S., wrote on 9th June 1943 – Mary having two entries back to back.   Mac or Mal Pearson B.H.Q., wrote ‘A little bit of powder, a little bit of paint. Makes the ladies faces, really what they ain’t’, on 14 May 1943.  I get the feeling that how the verse is worded that Mal or Mac was a soldier.

D Robinson

D Robinson

M Jamieson, Seaview, Kingston-on-Spey, wrote another little dittie with a play on words, ‘ A tablespoon is rather large, a teaspoon rather small.  But a spoon upon the sofa, is the best spoon of all’. While Pte., Emilia Race, A.T.S, on 6 May 1943 wrote the words to the well known Vera Lynn song, We’ll meet again. A simple one liner  ‘ Two mugs from Milltown, remember the kilts!’ was written by D Robinson, R.A.F., and what could be L Kenneth R.A.A.F. Feb 1945, followed very quickly by ‘Just another mug, Alice Milne, Seafield Bank, New Elgin, 18 February 1945′.

‘Twinkle Twinkle little star, I took a girl out in a car.  What we did we’re not admittin’, but

Joy Wood

Joy Wood

what she’s knittin’ ain’t for Britain!’ Another cheeky little poem from ‘Daisy’ Day, 8th May 1943.  Getting close to the final pages, Joy Wood W.A.A.F., C.R.S., Nottingham, on 11 November 1946, wrote her own poem and apologised for the ‘shocking poetry’.  J Cumberland, C.R.S., January 11th 1946.  A rather bold entry from W.A.A.F., Jean Brown of Lossiemouth was written on 20 June 1943, while on 8th of August, 1944, Joan Demers wrote ‘ Sincerest wishes always Ann! Remember Just 1 of Room 5, 5 Carrisbrook’.  I wonder what that meant?

Entries by Gladys Rowberry and E Freeman, are followed by ‘I’d lie for you my darling, in thrilling tones she cried.  She was brunette. He preferred blonde, and so the damsel dyed’. Yet another play on words by Mitch, who wishes Ann, all the best in Civvy Street.

E Elizabeth Bingham

E Elizabeth Bingham

E Elizabeth Bingham, 12 Sect. E. Coy., H.P.C. (V), Notts., wrote on 5 June 1944 – the day before D-Day – ‘This ring is round and hath no end, so is my love for you, my friend.

The Bridle Pie, by Peggy Innes is the next entry ‘Take a cup of kindliness, a tablespoon of trust.  Add a pinch of confidence. Roll out a loving crust.  Flour with contentment and keep free from strife. Fill with understanding and bake well for life’.  Followed by Doris E Wells on 16th January 1945.

Artie

Artie

A young man called Artie seems to have reserved his page by writing ‘? leave this for me’.  He then draws a line down the page, thus reserving for later.  He then writes’ Remember the hilltop.  Remember the lake.  Remember me on your wedding day, but remember my piece of cake! Artie’

Finally, two entries, back to back by Pte Wells, A.T.S.,  501 Bty on 6

May 1943.

Who were these people who thought so much of my mum, Elizabeth Ann Riach.  At home in

Pte., Wells

Pte., Wells

Urquhart and to her family she was Lizzie.  In the army, to her husband and friends in Yorkshire she was Ann.  Oh!, how I would have loved to know the smiling, fun loving woman written about so fondly in her little black book.

A new princess

On the second of May 2015 HRH Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge came into the world.  Her birth was officially registered on the 5th of May and signed by her father William.

William, gave his occupation as that of Prince of the United Kingdom, and informed that his wife, Catherine Elizabeth, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, was a Princess of the United Kingdom – people laughed at this!  Is he the first to enter such a position as his occupation?  I am not going to discuss his reasons, if it is correct in this day and age, even though one day he will be a King.

Lets have some fun looking around the census, birth entries and other records to see if others have done the same as William.

In the winter of 1841 Edward, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was registered as Gotha being his family name and his first names being Prince of Wales – not a mention of Edward!  gotha saxe coburg

1851, the first census to give a place of birth other than ‘in county’, and we find Her Majesty Alexandria Victoria, wife, aged 31 and her occupation is ‘The Queen’.  Her husband, HRH Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emanuel, head of the house, and his occupation is Duke of Saxony, Prince of Coburg and Gotha. Their children are also listed as having occupations as :- Princess Royal, Prince of Wales, Princes and Princesses, while Arthur William Patrick Albert aged 11 months is recorded as Prince of the United Kingdom, Duke of Saxony, Prince of Coburg and Gotha.

The census of 1881 is  similar with Victoria’s occupation being Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and her children being Prince of Princesses.  I must say this census return is rather untidily written to say who is the Head of the Household!

By 1911 King George was on the throne, his census has him as the Head of the Household, been married 17 years to Mary, his Queen and they had at the time six children, all who were alive at the time.  His occupation, as with that of his wife’s is blank.  Their sons, Princes Albert and Edward both give their occupation as being in the Royal Navy.

Also in 1911, the Duke of Northumberland, Harry George, aged 64, gave his personal occupation as Peer.  The Duke of Buccleuch, was just entered as ‘Buccleuch’ with the later addition of ‘The Duke’ in parenthesis.  His wife is listed as Peeress, while their son,  Lord Herbert Scott is a Lieut. Col.  in the 23rd London Regiment.   A visitor at the time of the census, Lord Claud Hamilton, aged 68 gives his occupation as Member of Parliament.

While Edmund, Lord Faber, gave his occupation as Banker, being an old Etonian, and a senior partner in Becket’s Bank of Leeds and York.  He was also a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Lord Stratheden aged 81, gave his occupation as that of private means.

Princess Elizabeth on her birth certificate is indexed as Windsor Elizabeth A M and her mother’s maiden name is Bowes-Lyon.

Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding certificate to Philip Mountbatten, her rank or profession is given as Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, while he entered HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, KG.

It looks like it boils down to how you understand the question asked.  To other generations the wording would be ‘your rank of profession’, while today it seems to be just ‘occupation’ as the wording on the certificates – but who asked the question of occupation and how was it asked!  Simple questions but could mean a world of difference.

Giving an example of census questions asked by the enumerator.  1. Where are you from?  2. Where were you  born?  I suppose they could be classed as similar questions, but when rooting your your ancestor  it could mean a world of difference.  1. Where are you from?  Could be understood as ‘I’m from Methley’.  The enumerator has an answer, he is happy.  Ten years later our family member has moved and he now says he is from Sheffield, again the enumerator has an answer and he may now know the family, so he is happy with the answer.

2. Ten years have passed and the enumerator asks ‘where were you born’ and our head of the household says ‘Bradford’.  Both questions could be understood as the same, but they could also mean something totally different.

It is not always how someone perceives themselves but how someone asks a relevant question.

 

 

It’s May – an eventful month

Well, only a few days into the merry month of May and so much has happened.

We have see the birth of another great grandchild to Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, but that will have to wait for another blog.  There has also been celebrations taking place for the end of the war in Europe – V E Day.

We have see the commemorations to those who lost their lives in the sinking of the Lusitania, 100 years ago and we have seen an election which I don’t think anyone predicted the outcome of.  But enough of politics, so back to the Lusitania a more fitting subject for this blog.

RMS Lusitania - Wikipedia

RMS Lusitania – Wikipedia

She, RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner and holder of the Blue Riband (an unofficial accolade given to passenger liners crossing the Atlantic at a record high speed – of 35 holders of the Blue Riband, 25 were British).  She was launched on 7th of June 1906, becoming part of the Cunard Line.  RMS Lusitania was the biggest passenger ship – for a short time.  Built by John Brown & Co., at Clydebank, she weighed in at 44,060 tons. She had 9 passenger decks, provided approx. 50% more passenger capacity that any other ship at the time.  The ship was equipped with lifts, electric lights, wireless telegraph and her first class accommodation and decks were magnificent in their furnishings.

The Lusitania left New York on the 1st of May 1915 for the port of Liverpool with 1962 people onboard including a crew of 850.

Advert from American papers - Wikipedia

Advert from American papers – Wikipedia

By this time the German Government had declared that all Allied ships would be in danger of being attacked in British waters.  Submarine activity was intensifying around the Atlantic making any vessel in our coastal waters a target for attack.  It is said that the German Embassy in the United States placed an advertisement in newspapers warning passengers of the danger of being a passenger on the Lusitania.

On the 7th of May, RMS Lusitania, was off the coast of Ireland ready to complete her 202nd crossing and was due to dock in Liverpool later that afternoon.  A course running parallel to the south coast of Ireland,  and roughly 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale when the liner crossed in front of U-20 at 14:10hrs. The Commanding Officer of U-20, Schwieger, gave the order to fire one torpedo, which struck the Lusitania on the starboard bow – just beneath the wheelhouse.  Shortly after, a second explosion came from within her hull, and the ship began to founder with a prominent list to starboard.

The crew rushed to launch the lifeboats but the position of the vessel and the conditions made their deploy quite difficult and in some cases almost impossible.  As it was only six of the 48 boats were launched.

Eighteen minutes after the torpedo struck, the bow touched the seabed, with the stern still visible above the surface of the water – finally, sliding beneath the waves to her grave.

Of the 1962 passengers and crew on board the Lusitania 1,191 lost their lives, 405 members of the crew lost their lives including John Henry Lowrie Hayes .

 The Lusitania had signalled her distress which brought Irish rescuers to the scene.

By the following morning the news if the sinking, of this unarmed passenger liner,  had spread worldwide.  Most of the passengers were either British of Canadians, there were 128 Americans on the passenger list who lost their lives and this outraged many in their country.

Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, a German spokesman published a statement saying that the Lusitania carried ‘contraband of war’ and also she was ‘classed as an auxiliary cruiser’ Germany had the right to destroy her regardless of any passengers on board.  He also stated that because of the published warning in American papers that Germany were relieved of any responsibility for the deaths of the American citizens.  He stated the ammunition and military goods listed as her cargo, which included an estimated 4,200,000 rounds of rifle cartridges, 1,250 empty shell cases and 18 cases of non-explosive fuses.

Cunard denied that she was carrying munitions but admitted her transportation of small-arms ammunition.

100 years later on the 7th of May 2015, Cunard’s MS Queen Victoria underook a voyage to the site of the sinking to lay a wreath to remember those who lost their lives on that day.

Previous commemorations had taken place, including  a lifeboat crew rowing the 12 miles to the site of the disaster.

Albert Edward Shepherd

A few years ago my cousin and I were jointly researching branches of our family tree.  I was doing the internet side by looking at census, military service records and other online sources.  He was going the ‘old school’ route by visiting the archives and viewing the church records on microfilm.  Normally, on a Sunday morning we would have a long chat on the telephone, compare notes and decide what other routes to go down and people to search out………..It worked for us and we found a lot of information about our joint relatives, their spouses and children.

It was while researching a joint relative – nearer to him than me by just a little, we ventured into the Shepherd line.  There were a few ups and downs and a few hiccoughs along the way but with a joint effort we got there.

And so it was that in 2010, one sunny but cool Sunday afternoon I ventured forth with car keys, camera, spare batteries and music for my journey a few miles down the road.  But before I tell about that day, it may be good to know who Albert was.

Albert Edward Shepherd was the son of Noah Shepherd and Laura Darwin born in 1897 in the small town of Royston near Barnsley.  Albert was not our main interest, it was his brother Jabez born in 1905 that was the direct relative.  But you know how it is with family history, you start of in a nice orderly fashion then off you go at a tangent.  It seemed that Albert was our tangent, but at least some of the information fitted them both.

Noah was a Shropshire man, a miner by trade and it looks like he followed the coal fields ending up in Royston where he met Laura who was from Hoyland Common.   The couple married in 1896 and went on to have 6 children born between 1897 and 1908 in and around Royston.

1901 the family were living at 2nd 5th Hallam Street, Brightside Bierlow, Sheffield.  By the time the 1911 census came around Noah was a widower bringing up his children in Royston.  Not only had he lost his wife but one of their six children had also died.  Albert was working like his father, down the mine.  Also in living in the house was Thurza, Noah’s mother;  Percy his 15 year old brother and Joseph Darwin, his father in law, also a widower.

One source says that while he was working at New Monkcton Colliery, his main sources of recreation were boxing and running.

sheherd a e picAlbert enlisted, but some say it was on the first day of the war, while others say it was  on the 4th of August 1915, but his Medal Card says he enlisited on 18th of August 1915 being drafted into one of Lord Kitchener’s service battalions, the 12th King’s Royal Rifle Corps – that regiment all are agreed upon.  Again I seem to be highlighting a member of this regiment, but this time it is not intentional.  During his service he was seriously wounded in the arm and gassed twice – thus qualifying for a Silver War Badge and an Army Pension.

He was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal on 28 August 1916 and became acting Corporal one month later on 28 September 1916. He was still a young man, but had taken part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the Battle of Passchendaele in late 1917.

His love of running served him in good stead as it was while a company runner that he was awarded the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces – The Victoria Cross.

Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

Villers Plouich, France, 20th November 1917-

The citation reads:

No. R/15089 Rflmn. Albert Edward Shepherd, K.R.R.C. (Barnsley).

For most conspicuous bravery as a company runner.

When his company was held up by a machine gun at point blank range he volunteered to rush the gun, and, though ordered not to, rushed forward and threw a Mills bomb, killing two gunners and capturing the gun. The company, on continuing its advance, came under heavy enfilade machine gun fire.
When the last officer and the last non-commissioned officer had become casualties, he took command of the company, ordered the men to lie down, and himself went back some seventy yards under severe fire to obtain the help of a tank.
He then returned to his company, and finally led them to their last objective.

He showed throughout conspicuous determination and resource.

—London Gazette, 13 February 1918
DSCF1794

Rosezillah Shepherd, headstone in Royston Cemetery. Copyright C Sklinar

The Great War, the war to end all wars, came to an end for Albert on the 2nd of January 1919, when he was discharged and he returned home to Royston. He went back to the colliery as a caretaker and on 17th of February of 1919 he married Rosezillah Tillman.  Rosezillah died in September of 1925 and rests in Royston Cemetery.

On the 6th of November 1926 Albert married for the second time, this time to Gladys Maud Lees.

He later joined the Corps of Commissionaires.

croix de guerre

Croix de Guerre

In early 1920 he heard that he had been awarded the French Medaille Militaire, followed a few months later in January of 1921 he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre.

As well as the Silver War Badge, for being injured,  his tally of military and civilian medals added up to quite a few:-

mdaille militaire

Medaille Militaire

 * Victoria Cross
* 1914 – 15 Star
* British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
* Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
* King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
* Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
* Croix de Guerre ( France )
* Medaille Militaire ( France )

In June of 1920 he attended the Buckingham Palace garden party, given by King George V for Victoria Cross Recipients.  His Majesty was accompanied by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family. The recipients assembled at Wellington Barracks and marched to the Palace via Birdcage Walk.  The King inspected the Victoria Cross Recipients who later filed past his Majesty and all had the honour of being presented to The King and Queen. Nine years later was a guest at the Prince of Wales’ House of Lords’ dinner on 9th of November 1929.  He retired in 1945 and the following year attended the Victoria Cross dinner at the Dorchester.  It was his normal practice to attend most of the Victoria Cross / George Cross functions, one of which was the Hyde Park Review in june 1956 and the review f the Corps of Commissionaires in May three years later.

The Imperial War Museum has within its vast collection invitations and souvenir programmes for the Victoria Cross Garden Party.

Albert E Shepherd VC

Albert E Shepherd VC

Albert Edward Shepherd, V.C. died at his home in Oakwood Crescent, Royston on 2rd of October 1966 aged 69.

DSCF1797

Albert Edward Shepherd V.C. copyright C Sklinar

He was given a full military funeral at St John the Baptist Church, Royston.  His cortege as it made its way to the church was given a guard of honour.  The Union Flag was draped across his coffin and his Victoria Cross and Croix de Guerre were proudly laid upon his countries flag.  The Last Post and Reveille were played at his graveside.

In 1968 his second wife, Gladys presented his Victoria Cross and his other medals to the Royal Greenjackets at Winchester.

It is said that a vicar in the 1980’s used part of the DSCF1812archway, which bares Alberts memorial, as part of a washing line – needless to say it did not go down well with the local British Legion.

And so………..back to that day when I ventured forth with keys and camera.  I eventually found the cemetery and proceeded to walk up and down scanning the headstones, but Alberts could not be found. I had found Rosezillah’s headstone, but no Albert.  There were quite a few people around mostly using the cemetery as a short cut.  I asked many of them if they knew where Albert was, after explaining why I was looking for him and why he was special to Royston.  Sadly, not one of them had heard of him or knew where he rested.  Finally, I spoke to a man who suggested I spoke to a couple who were just making there way down the path.  With a quick turn around and the couple in my site – I found him, within feet of where I stood, and therefore, did not need the couple proceeding down the path.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to Barnsley local studies, wondering if they had any information that had eluded me.  I was told that Barnsley were very proud of Albert – my previous experience led me to take that with a very big pinch of salt.  I came to the conclusion that money had been made available in the form of a grant and like a lot of other councils, schools etc., have got on the 100 year bandwagon.  But, how long with they remember after 2015 or even 2018 I ask?

Many groups, associations and individuals have been remembering for much longer and will remember long after 2018 – personal rant over!

DSCF1813

The inscription on the arch ‘This memorial was erected with monies raised by public subscription and by his regiment the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. to the memory of Albert E Shepherd, V.C., Croix de Guerre, Medaille Militaire who died 23rd October 1966.

Although the arch looks a little worse for wear these days, with the varnish crackling and the wood rotting a little, but the memorial stand proud.  If you take a walk to the back of the memorial that now stands to the rear of the War Memorial, you will see the original gate that someone covered over with what looks like plyboard.

shepherd memorial new

Memorial to A E Shepherd V.C. on Royston War Memorial copyright C Sklinar