We research military records for your ancestors and relations for the first or second world wars, to do justice to their memory.
Brothers in Arms
We had completed an earlier assignment for Laura and Paul which had shown the merging of two English and Scottish families: a Silver assignment ranging from the 1830s to 1910s including censuses and records from both countries. Early news articles ranged from the mundane account of an ancestor being heavily bruised in a horse accident to one witnessing the theft of a sheep, the miscreant being transported for life as a consequence. The story was one of a family emerging from small villages in the rolling Cambridgeshire countryside to workhouses and tragedy (a young boy killed by fire trying to stay warm) to a prosperous life of two generations of coal mining agents before they emigrated in the 20th century to Australia.
The family knew that their direct ancestor Ernie had been a soldier in World War One and asked us to discover more.
They were astonished but humbled and honoured when we found that Ernie had a brother William who had died in the First World War. We were determined to discover all we could to do justice to William’s memory.
Ernie had enlisted in the Yorkshire Light Infantry on 11 March 1915 to follow in the footsteps of his older brother William, then 20, who had joined a few months before. Ernie claimed to be 19 years and 12 days old when he enlisted but he was not yet 16. Like many other young boys, he pretended to be older than his age in order to fight for his country.
It took the forces only two months (5 May 1915) to realise the truth and he was discharged to find a place some time later instead with the 21st Battalion County of London Regiment from what was now his home town.
In the meantime, less than a fortnight after Ernie had enlisted, his elder brother William was killed on 26 March 1915:
Private 6548, Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regt.) 3rd son of Walter and Mary born London 3 February 1895. Foreman Lebus & Co, Tottenham, London.
Enlisted November 1913. Served with Middlesex Regiment Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 1914 and was killed in action aged 20 at Neuve Chapelle on 26 March 1915, buried where he fell.
We then examined various accounts from different sources to discover why William was in Neuve Chapelle and what happened on that fateful day.
Between 10 and 13 March 1915, the Battle of Neuve Chapelle took place with the British First Army headed by Sir Douglas Haig mounting its first significant offensive, losing many casualties but capturing the place.
At 7.30am the artillery bombardment commenced, and never since history has there been such a one. You couldn’t hear yourself speak for the noise. It was a continual rattle and roar. We lay very low in our trenches, as several of our guns were firing short.
Evidently, skirmishes continued afterwards and William lost his life on 26 March.
We hunted for – and found – the place of his memorial; its precise panel location on the Menin Gate and obtained a photograph of its entry.
Many military records have been lost for various reasons over time so we will let you know if none can be found.
Amongst the priceless documents in this case were:-
Roll of Honour
Plans and diagrams of military offences
We have gone through everything, thank you so much it’s so much more than I expected.
We are going to have 4 copies of the main document printed and bound.
We are really touched and you have done the brothers proud.
Brian had been a client for some time. We had traced his family back to Yorkshire in the 1700s to Lincolnshire in the 1800s right through to their reaching New York in the early 1900s. During the course of this research we discovered Walter Kenneth who was killed aged 19 in the First World War. This was a very special and moving find for the family.
One last thing. Your find of Walter Kenneth’s gravesite was an amazing development for the family. We’re really intent on paying him a visit for the first time in nearly a century. Can we make sure that we work this in to the itinerary?
So moved were they that four generations of their family set out on what they would later describe as the best trip of their lifetimes. We produced a comprehensive itinerary around their ancestral locations in England together with options for accommodation and directions. The trip took them to France and Belgium where they paid their respects to young Walter, an experience they would never forget and one so especially meaningful to Charles, the eldest member of the family in his twilight years.
A chance return of WW1 medals , a war now 108 years in the past , a long forgotten uncle , Amy was handed this task and what a wonderful return . Over 90 pages of research an in-depth look at the life , times and ultimate death of George Lister killed in action . Amy’s research has uncovered the family history behind the man followed by the regiment’s he served in and engagements he was involved in on the opening days of WW! . A thoroughly detailed report far exceeding our expectation with attention to detail and information that would far exceed the efforts of any amateur investigations . I can only add my thanks to Amy for a truly professional job . and we have already engaged her services to further expand the family history .