The project, to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War, would breathe life back into all those brave men and women who served in the First World War by allowing the public to add details to their records.
This enabled those long lists of rank, surnames, and service number to start seeing information about their births, their photographs, and their life stories being added.
I have added photographs and information to several of my relatives, and one relative (a distant cousin) Frederick Vernon Cross even made it as one of the people on the home page.
This week, an email came through to announce that the project is entering the final year of the first phase, and that there is just one year left to add more valuable accompanying information, with submissions ending on 18th March 2019.
After this date, the site will become a permanent digital memorial to those brave people who served in a terrible war, for us to remember and research for the future.
I still have a few relatives to find on the site, but this reminder will set me on the path to correct that. I suggest you do the same.
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.
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.