Website launched to commemorate the Lives Of The First World War

IWM and DC Thomson Family History launch Lives Of The First World War website – creating a digital memorial celebrating the bravery of those who contributed to the WW1 effort in the Commonwealth.

Back in February, the Imperial War Museums and DC Thomson Family History, tantalised the audience at Who Do You Think You Are? Live with their collaborative project – Lives Of The First World War.

In the months since, the site has been open to Beta testing, and today finally saw the site go live to the general public at www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org.

The idea of the project has been to build upon the records, and create a huge digital memorial that commemorates the lives of those who served in WW1 – whether they survived or lost their life.

I’ve jumped straight in to add my great grandfather, Herbert Martin, who served with the Suffolk Regiment and the Northamptonshire Regiment as a Private, but was sadly crushed to death in a train accident in Boulogne, France, on 17th October 1917.

Lives of the First World War screenshot
I’ve added my great grandfather to Lives Of The First World War.

It’s a sad fact, that I have a lot of other brave people to begin adding, and that this will take some time, but the collaboration is seen as one that will provide an archive that will detail the social history of the 8 million men and women from the Commonwealth who contributed to the First World War effort.

Find out more via the video below:

Interested?

The site is clean and pretty easy to use. It’s also free, up to a point (you pay for access to some archive material), but you can add content yourself. You can also ‘remember’ any of the people listed – which kind of acts as a bookmark for you. The site also carries a message saying that they are aiming to keep updating it to add further features.

I was keen to hear that there is an educational side to this site, and that the project is keen to see this site used as a school’s resource – in a bid to ensure that the service and bravery of our ancestors, is remembered for another 100 years.

The Great Great Rose and The Orphan

The Great Great Aunt – photograph of my great great aunt Rose Ellen Martin, with her niece Mary Goodge – a photo that would have been taken around the time that Mary lost both of her parents in war.

This photograph shows my Great Great Aunt, Rose Ellen Martin, with her niece Mary Goodge.

Rose Ellen Martin with her niece Mary Goodge
Rose Ellen Martin with her niece Mary Goodge

I’m unsure of Mary’s age in this photograph, but I imagine that it sits right on the cusp of the tragedy that claimed Rose’ sister Emma Jane Martin, Emma’s husband John William Goodge, and left a six year old Mary as an orphan.

Together with her mother (Mary’s grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth), and likely Mary’s other grandparents Henry and Amelia Goodge, Rose cared for Mary.

Tragedy

Mary’s father John died on 12th February 1917. He was Private 34480 of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He is buried in Pas de Calais, France in grave I.B.19 at the Wanquetin Communal Cemetery Extension. He was 31 years old.

Mary’s mother Emma Jane (Rose’s younger sister) died 7 months later on 17th September 1917, aged just 29 years old. Having tuned into family grapevine (yes, I know, dangerous…  but it often contains clues and not always facts) I believe that a wall collapsed onto her. She was buried 4 days later in Littleport, Cambridgeshire. I’ve checked the British Newspaper Archive and the story hasn’t appeared there.. so this may be a death certificate purchase if I want to know the cause (as above,  i know the date).

These losses would have been hard to bear, and unsurprisingly they weren’t alone. During a period of 11 consecutive months, not only did Mary become an orphan, but Rose also lost two of her brothers to the First World War.

The photo below shows Emma with Rose, some years earlier.

Emma Jane Martin with sister Rose Ellen Martin
Emma Jane with sister Rose Ellen Martin some years earlier.

Good teeth in Clapham

Rose remained unmarried, and never had any children of her own. She entered life of servitude at the age of at least 15, when she appears on the 1891 census as living at home as a ‘Domestic Assistant’.

She goes on to leave home, and by the 1901 census, she’s living in Clapham, London, and working as a ‘Parlourmaid‘ for Dental Surgeon William John Parks, of 32 The Chase. She remains here for at least another 10 years, where she appears living with Mr Parks’ widow Hannah in 1911.

After working for a doctor in Littleport, Rose went on to live a long life – reaching the age of 79 years when she died on 23rd May 1955.

Rose Ellen Martin with sister-in-law Rebecca Ann (née Lythell) in later years.
Rose Ellen Martin (standing) with sister-in-law Rebecca Ann (née Lythell) in later years.

She was buried alone, with a headstone, in Little Downham cemetery.

What about Mary Goodge?

As for Mary… technically she might be 104 years old by now.

Her life remains a complete mystery to me. With few ageing relatives left to ask, I’d like to find out what became of her before it gets any more difficult.

Did she marry, have children, or go into servitude like Rose? I’d love to find out.

Remembrance 2012

Remembrance Sunday 2012 – Remembering the bravery of those who have served in, and gave their lives to war.

Remembrance Sunday has arrived again, and like so many others here in the UK, i have bought a poppy and will be observing the two minute silence at 11am.

There are seldom few days where I don’t spare my ancestors a thought, especially those who served and gave their life in the ugliness of war with a bravery far beyond anything I can comprehend.

The Martin Family (c. 1916)
ABOVE: Herbert (my Great Grandfather) would have been 32/33 in this photo, which was taken in 1916. Within 12 months, he had been killed in a train accident in France, leaving 31yr old Daisy with her 4 young sons.

Death Card for Herbert Martin (1884-1917)

Support The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal

Remembrance 2011

Remembrance 2011 – remembering the brave and heroic who fought and who were lost in war.

I get completely tongue-tied when it comes to writing about war and Remembrance. So instead, here’s some photographs of a few of my relatives. Some of whom made it, others who weren’t so lucky.

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey - 1st World War

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)

Albert Martin (1899-1918)

Owen Newman (1919-1944)

Herbert Martin (1884-1917)

Herbert Martin's gravestone

Owen Yarrow (1882-1917)

Owen Yarrow

Remembrance: Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey

Remembrance: Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991).

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)
Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)

Ernest lied about his age in order to sign up to the Suffolk Yeomanry

Ernest was a year younger than was permitted – a scenario which was actually quite common amongst men who were keen to fight for their country.

He fought in the First World War and travelled to France and Egypt whilst part of the Yeomanry.

Unlike so many of his comrades, he survived the First World War and went on to live until he was 94 years old.

Due to his work with the Yeomanry, he married after an 11 year courtship to Susan Jane Moden of Ely.

Remembrance: Albert Martin

Remembrance of Albert Martin (1899-1918) who died in a hospital in Germany.

Albert Martin (1899-1918)
Albert Martin (1899-1918)

Albert Martin (65727) enlisted as a Private for the 1st/5th Batallion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

He went to fight in the First World War but was sadly taken prisoner during the German’s third offensive that swept through Fismes, France on 27th May 1918.

Records from the Comité International de la Croix-Rouge (CICR) revealed that he was captured the following day at Fismes.

He is recorded as present at a Prisoner of War (POW) camp in Dülmen, coming from Laon on 19th July 1918. He then appears at the POW camp at Münster II on 20th August 1918.

He died 10 days later in the “Res.Laz.Abtl.Krankenhaus” (hospital) at Homberg, Germany.

He was buried in an English cemetery in the same place “Feld” 21, Nr.64.5″

Remembrance: Herbert Martin

Remembrance of Private Herbert Martin, 1884-1917.

Herbert Martin (1884-1917)
Herbert Martin (1884-1917)

Herbert Martin (40572) enlisted as a Private of the 7th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment.

He was tragically killed on his way home towards the end of the First World War in a train accident in France.

His name is featured on the Little Downham war memorial and was until recently also on a stone in the cemetery, along with his sister Emma and her husband John William Goodge.

Herbert is named in the Cambridge Regiment’s instalment in St. George’s Chapel in Ely Cathedral, where it lists the names of the brave who died during the two world wars.

Remembrance: Owen Yarrow

A series of images of brave soldiers who fought in the First and Second World Wars.

Owen Yarrow (1882-1917)
Owen Yarrow (1882-1917)

Owen worked as a Postman and had to carry mail to the front lines during the 1st World War.

It was during the battle at Cumbrai, France, that he was sadly killed. None of his personal possessions were recovered.

He served with the 5th Suffolk Regiment and the 1st Battalion Post Office Rifles.

Surname Saturday: GIDDINGS

Surname Saturday – it’s the turn of the Giddings family from Fleet, Lincolnshire and later from March, Cambridgeshire.

My Giddings ancestry from Lincolnshire and later from Cambridgeshire provides me with one of my favourite photographs in my collection.

Elizabeth Giddings (1831-19??)

At some point between October 1791 and December 1793 my 5x Great Grandparents Thomas Giddings and his wife Rebecca (née Watson) left the village of Fleet on the border of Lincolnshire and brought their family of at most 3 children to March, Cambridgeshire.

By 1798 the couple had grown the family to 5 children with the youngest, Daniel Watson Giddings (my Gt x4 grandfather) having been born that year.

The Giddings family appear to have been Baptists, attending The Providence Baptist Church in March – this is certainly the place of many of their appearances in parish records.

Illegitimacy

In 1852, my Gt x3 Grandmother Elizabeth Giddings (pictured) gave birth to my Gt x2 Grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Giddings. This must have been a real test for both Elizabeth and Sarah as illegitimacy was heavily frowned upon during this period and both mother and child would have bore the weight of the ‘disgust’ of the community they lived in. Elizabeth would have been encouraged to marry. Despite this, Elizabeth remained unmarried for another 10 years, finally marrying a Charles Lincoln from Potton, Bedfordshire in 1862. Together they had a daughter, Jane.

Tragedy

Sarah Elizabeth married my Gt x2 Grandfather James Martin from Little Downham, Cambridgeshire and the couple settled down to rear a family of 13 children. Sarah must have been as tough as her mother, as she saw six of her children plus a son-in-law and daughter-in-law all go to the grave in her lifetime. One son died as an infant, another was killed when he fell from a horse as a working child. She then lost a daughter and son-in law, and two sons as a result of the First World War. I’m unsure of the cause of death for one of her daughters and her daughter-in-law. All in all, Sarah and her family suffered terrible losses.

Sarah died just five years after her mother in 1925, aged 72 years at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.