Monthly Archives: January 2011

French Soldiers KIA WW1

Anyone have any French soldiers who died in World War 1 or any conflict involving France i.e. WW2, Indochina and Korea?

The French site SGA-Memoires des hommes can certainly help you – each soldier having their own scanned sheet giving the following information :- Name, date of birth, regiment and service number, date of death etc.,  Obviously the information is in French but it is quite easy to understand some of the information.

Soldiers who died for France  – SGA-Memoires des Hommes

Eton College Memorials

You’ve just read how my family treat me as an object of fun when talking about war memorials but I felt I must tell you how it all started.

My daughter, yes its her fault! She had the opportunity after graduating to work for nearly 6 months in China.  She was to work in Tianjin University teaching the young trainee pilots English – I sometimes call her Miss Chips, as she had lots of pupils and all boys!

John Henry MacDougall Scott – old Etonian KIA WW2

And with only a couple of weeks notice she packed all her belongings and I do mean ALL!  We took her to Heathrow where she met her fellow ‘teachers’ and off she set – leaving us with only Skype to communicate with.

We stayed for the night in Windsor and walked down to Eton – it was the holidays and very few students were left boarding.  Firstly, I was taken by the Quad – I’d seen it on many a film but looked different in reality.  Anyway, we wandered around the outer edge, under the covered area that surrounds the central courtyard, and there were memorials galore but at this stage they were just memorials.  We took pictures, as you do, of them, finished our walk around and left.  Leaving for home later in the day.

By this time had been going for about 5 years and was mainly transcripts that I gathered along the way, a series of links and other useful info for people with a Wakefield connection.  Eton was out of the remit of the site so Genealogyjunction was born!

What to do with these pictures – memorial, glorious in their remembrance of fallen Etonians.  I started to think and that can be lethal and cause work for some people.  The transcriptions started, names on a white page – but who were these men, young and not so young, some ones son, husband or brother.  A name meant nothing, these men had to come to life, have parents, a place to live, a job they did and a final resting place.

The great monster was born and over the years ‘life’ has been given back to many a man who thought it would be over by Christmas and those whose fight was over only a short time before November 11 at 11am.

….When you go home tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today… –    memorials and other transcripts  outside of the Wakefield area, Belgium and France

Australian soldiers in WWI

Most of my family and friends know I can spot a war memorial or a CWGC headstone at a great distance.  My family make a joke out of the fact that if I want to go anywhere there has to be an ulterior motive i.e. a memorial of some kind.

Holidays and weekends away have always been expeditions where viewing the countryside was secondary!

On one of our annual trips to Aberfoyle we found a very nice little memorial in Gullane – a nice place on the Edinburgh to North Berwick road (A918).

The memorial to those who died in WW1 & 2 is situated on a grassy section near the golf course.

Back home I started the transcription and followed up with looking to see who these young men were.  There were 3 young men who stood out.  Firstly, James Harper who died in the local police station and rests in the village kirkyard.  Secondly, Hugh Burns who died while in a prisoner of war camp and his service records hold correspondence from his father asking why there is a discrepancy in his date of death.  Thirdly, and the most interesting to a family historian or researcher is the entry on the memorial for Richard H Whitecross.

Richard served in the Australian forces and whose army life was not to say the least – interesting! If you have Australian or Canadian service men who served in WW1 then you will find that their army service records are intact.  The records for UK service men are not so good.  They form part of the Burnt Records as they were damaged by fire in WW2. Saying that the Medal Record Cards are good but their information is limited.

Anyway, back to Richard – he left his home in Gullane for Australia where he went to work as a bricklayer.  His papers tell of his enlistment, give a description, and more to the point tell us where he served and what his attitude was to service life.  Well I can tell you that he was not the most enthusiastic squaddy.  Richard was always on report, failing to turn up for Roll Call, being drunk, AWOL and more.

To read the entry for Richard and the men of Gullane  click here

To look for an Australian soldier from WW1 click here

To visit the Canadian Expeditionary Force records for soldiers  click here

Passports, Leaving the UK and India service

Did your relatives leave the UK ?

Did they have a connection to India? Either in the Army or East India Company – Find My Past have gathered a collection of information that might help in your search.

Fantastic, I found my J Younie in these records working with the Judicial system in Bengal in 1933.  This record was easy to find as all I needed to do was insert his unusual surname.  When looking to see if any other of my far flung lot had a passport… now that opened up another can of worms.

FMP have passport applications from 1851 – 1903 with a few gaps in between, but when entering information into the search boxes they only want the first 3 letters of the surname – making it very time consuming to do a search, especially if your first 3 letters are Mac.  They do have other records in their Migration section. including Passenger listings, that are just as easy to search as the India Office List.  If you find a 3 letter search, just make sure you are in a ‘moochin’ mood so you won’t get frustrated and annoyed looking at every page to find your ‘Mac…’

On the other hand, Ancestry have an Immigration and Travel section which incudes : Alien Arrivals; English Adventurers and Emigrants and UK Incoming Passenger List 1878 – 1960 and all these use a full name search.  Now, how easy is that for the Mac prefix families of the world!

On a more personal note – I use both these websites (well one more than the other) sometimes using one to compliment research gleaned from the other but when it comes down to ease of search, ignoring both their transcriptions errors –  I prefer the  Ancestry  site for its full name search facility.

NOTE :- both Ancestry and Find My Past are pay per view sites, although you can look at some indices for free.

WDYTYA – Who do you think you are?

The Who do you think you are?  Live, makes another appearance at Olympia between the 25 and 27th of February 2011,  there you will find  family history societies and groups exhibiting alongside well known commercial giants at this fantastic gathering.

As well, as the many stands there are a series of talks and workshops and a few celebrities will be taking to the stage including Ainsley Harriot, Monty Don, Hugh Quarshie and Tony Robinson.

So, go rummaging for all your pocket money, raid the piggy bank, make notes of what you want to do, which stalls you want to visit and what information you want to know.  Cancel all your appointments, forget the shopping, leave the kids to get to football on their own and head off to Olynpia.

To visit the WDYTYA website click here

Transcription errors

Is it better to have a document transcribed wrongly than never transcribed at all?

We have all looked at transcriptions on-line – many of us have to as we live in a different town or even worse a different country or continent, and we are very, very grateful for enthusiasts and companies who place these document transcriptions on-line.  I know none of us are perfect and if you are a sole transcriber its hard to check your own work, but where does that leave companies who upload obvious transcription errors – do they have the transcriptions checked?  Are these transcriptions done by people who know British places and surnames?

For many years I’ve been looking at transcriptions of the census – they are a marvelous tool for family and local historians and most of the time the transcriptions have been good.  But….what drives me to distraction are the obvious and  careless errors that have been to be uploaded.

Many are the times I have had to search by just christian name rather than surname as the spelling of that could be any ones guess, then there is the opposite of that search as you would be surprised at some of the spelling variations.  Sometimes I think it’s just a matter of chose a few letters, juggle them about a bit and enter what you have.

While looking for a family member in one of the transcription sites I came across my family – good, as all the children were there including a daughter who had previously been living with her husband.  There was dad, mum, the married daughter, and the rest of the 5 children.  The obvious transcription error was that the children had been transcribed with the surname of the married daughter.  When looking at the original page it was plain to see, dad, mum, married daughter who was  a widow, son, son, daughter, daughter.

I know some of the original documents are very hard to read, have faded or are just in a poor condition but, come on, if you are going to put the effort in, try to make it right!

Bespoke tours in UK

See Your Past, a Leeds based company are offering ‘tailored to suit’ guided tours – taking you in the footsteps of your family.

Guides with local knowledge take you on a trip into your families past – all you do is give an outline of where your family were from, worked, were educated or now finally rest and your guide will do the rest, suggesting an itinerary for you to approve.

David of See Your Past tells me that he is always willing to hear from people with a family and local history background who are interested in sharing their knowledge and will often go that one step further to make a day special.  Also, if you are thinking of  visiting the UK – why not visit their website at the link below and See Your Past!

See Your Past can be found by clicking on this link

London, England, Land Tax Valuations, 1910

Sorry, this is only for those whose families lived in London.

You know their address, may even have a picture of their home or even been to visit, but did you know how much it was annually  valued at in 1910 and what the rateable value was  – well you can now! recently added the London Land Tax Valueations for 1910 to their vast and ever growing collection of family and local history resources.

So, what do these books tell us :-  Who owned the property, who rented the property, where the property and what type of property it was i.e. shop, house etc.

National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations)

Ancestry have recently added the National Probate Calender Index of Wills and Administrations for the hears 1861 – 1941, and a fascinating collection of material it is.

For example – my great uncle  was KIA in 1918.  He served in the 1/4 KOYLI, being injured in one of battles that took place near Ypres.  He was shot in the neck, taken to a dressing station at Kemmel but died shortly after.  It never dawned on me that he would leave money – he did have a good job, lived with his parents but money – who knew.

A check of the Probate Index for a general search  brought up my g. uncle and the fact that he left money to his mother. While his cousin Lieut. Joe Siddle left over £171 to Joe Siddle.

National Probate Calendar at

Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920

Were any of your relatives awarded the DCM during WWI.  If they were, you can find their Medal Card and the citation for the award on

120x60: I’m, your Nan

e.g. 315253 L/Cpl P Farquharson, 13tn, R Highrs.  For fine leadership and good work. During the advance the company became very much scattered owing to the mist and heavy fire….He was instrumental in enabling the company to advance succesfully and reach its objective.