RAF celebrate 100 and new records released

Today the Royal Air Force celebrates their centenary. 

To mark its birthday I was asked by TheGenealogist to write an article about one of the RAF’s key early chiefs. You can find it if you take a look at TheGenealogist’s website where they have launched some special RAF records to celebrate.

You can read my piece here:

https://www.thegenealogist.com/featuredarticles/2018/celebrating-the-centenary-of-the-raf-with-thegenealogists-records-778/

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Family History Research finds moved house

Sous L'Eglise Summer holiday time can be a great opportunity to look at the places where your ancestors lived.

Quite often I have used time visiting an area to walk down the streets where my ancestors footsteps went before me and just imagining how it would have been in their day.

I will have often have prepared for such a trip beforehand. In most cases using the census collections and copies of trade directories to”get a feel” for the location in their era.

It is important to try and understand the social history of the town or area where our forebears lived, but what about our own history? Shouldn’t we try and document our times for those who follow?

As we grow older we constantly find that things have moved on, streets have changed, businesses have closed up, buildings demolished.

This week I was reminded of this fact by a visit from several cousins of mine to Jersey. A first cousin, his daughter plus fiancé, flew in from Canada, while a first cousin once removed, plus husband, came from the Midlands by plane. (If you find cousin relationships difficult to understand then check out my free report here.)

My elder cousin from Canada had memories of certain shops, that he had gone to with our grandparents and would have liked to have taken a trip to. The problem was that they had long since gone or changed in the intervening years.

We managed, however, to do many of the sites that had family associations for us; but I was still struck at how change in my own lifetime had crept up on my local environment. From the reclamation of land for a cinema, swimming-pool complex, 5 star hotel and housing apartments, which now replaces the beach where my science teacher had taken the class to learn some hands-on Marine Biology, to the house by the airport where my younger cousin (now based in England) had once lived as a child.

This was to be a great story as the Georgian farmhouse had been demolished, as new regulations deemed it to be too close to the airport runway. In actual fact there had been a dreadful air crash when my cousins lived in it, but she and her mother were thankfully away from the house at the time. In the fog a light aircraft had flown into said building with the loss of the pilot’s life.

Yesterday we took a trip to the site of the demolished house and walked around the footprint of the building. It was an eerie feeling as we picked our way over the old foundations.

I noticed the former garden still had flowers and plant bushes in it that indicted its past life as a formal front garden. These hardy specimens fighting through the weeds and wild foliage that aimed to sometime soon take control.

The happy ending to this piece is that the house was demolished stone-by-stone and it has sprung up again in restored Georgian glory as the cladding to a replica house a few miles down the road! The project is ongoing and the people behind it have a website here:  http://savethelistedbuilding.com/

Yesterday we were privileged to be allowed to visit the house’s new site and my cousin, who had once lived within its granite structure, was delighted with the restoration and the positive ambience of its new location.

 

Think of those who will come after us, what stories can we leave them about our times?

To download my guide to Cousins, Step-mothers and Half-brothers click on this link.

 

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Exceptional new records from Findmypast uncover the diversity that formed the Royal Air Force in the First World War

Press Release from Findmypast that those of us with RFC/RAF servicemen in the family may be interested in.

 

Findmypast.co.uk, in partnership with The National Archives has released close to 450,000 service records of men of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force including 342,000 Airmen’s records never seen online before. Tales of derring-do brought to life so vividly by W.E. Johns in his Biggles series are well-known, but today’s release tells, for the first time, the stories of the unsung heroes from across the world and from the lower ranks that made up the RAF on its inception.

The majority of records in this collection date from 1912 with the formation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and include men who continued to serve in the RAF up until 1939. The earliest records date from 1899 with the Royal Engineers Balloon Service in the Boer War. With these fascinating records now available online, Findmypast offers the most comprehensive collection of British military service records in the early twentieth century.

Drawn from across the world…
The records reveal for the first time how World War One brought together men from across the world to serve alongside each other. Over 58 nationalities served in the RAF during World War One, with men signing up from as far afield as India, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Poland, Mexico, Romania and Germany. Included in the records is the first Indian to fly into combat, Hardutt Singh Malik, who became the only Indian aviator to survive the war, despite coming under significant attack and ending up with bullet wounds to his legs that required several months’ treatment in hospital. After the war, Malik joined the Indian Civil Service, serving as the Indian ambassador to France, and following his retirement became India’s finest golf player, even with two German bullets still embedded in his leg.

… and from across society
Despite the RAF’s reputation as the perfect playground for the upper classes, today’s records reveal how those from the working-class flew wing tip to wing tip with the officers, and became highly celebrated for their superior flying ability. One well-regarded flying ace, Arthur Ernest Newland, had humble origins as one of at least nine children from Enfield, north London, but the records show how he went on to twice receive the Distinguished Flying Medal for his prowess in the air, ending the war having destroyed 19 enemy aircraft, 17 of those single-handedly. One of ten children from a poor family in Limerick, John Cowell also became a celebrated airman during the war. Beginning on 5 May 1917, and extending through 28 July, Cowell scored fifteen victories as a gunner, and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal on 11 June 1918, as well as the Military Medal with Bar. Returning as a pilot in 20 Squadron he scored his final victory a year and a day after his fifteenth but sadly was shot down and killed the next day by balloon buster Friedrich Ritter von Röth of Jasta 16.

The air’s a stage
With the records containing information about an individual’s peacetime occupation, as well as their military prowess, it’s perhaps no surprise that the RAF appealed to the more dramatic members of society with records showing 104 actors, nine comedians and even one music hall artiste made up the RAF ranks.

“It’s a real treat to have such an extensive set of records about the everyday airmen of World War One” said Paul Nixon, military expert at Findmypast.co.uk. “These people, drawn from all walks of life, and from all over the world, played an incredibly important part in shaping our history, particularly in the development of aerial warfare. To have many of these hitherto unseen records easily accessible online for the first time mean that now many people can discover the Biggles in their own family.”

William Spencer, author and principal military records specialist at The National Archives continued: “These records reveal the many nationalities of airmen that joined forces to fight in the First World War. Now these records are online, people can discover the history of their ancestors, with everything from their physical appearance right through to their conduct and the brave acts they carried out which helped to win the war.”

The records, comprising National Archives series AIR 76 (Officers’ service records) and AIR 79 (Airmen’s records) contain information about an individual’s peacetime and military career, as well as his physical description, religious denomination and family status. Next of kin are often mentioned and this too has been fully indexed and is easily searchable. These records form part of Findmypast’s 100in100 promise to deliver 100 record sets in 100 days. To learn more about the records, visit www.Findmypast.co.uk.

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Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

 

Who Do You Think You Are? Live

Its here!

The largest family history show in the world!

 

This week (Thursday 20th, Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd) Who Do You Think You Are? Live comes to Olympia with stands from all the major genealogical websites, family history suppliers, expert advice, talks from celebrities from the TV programme and a myriad of workshops.

The Nosey Genealogist will be there too on stand 56 showcasing our Family History Researcher Beginners English & Welsh Family History Course. As a special show offer we have re-introduced the popular £1 trial membership of our course that gives you two weeks lessons and some free bonus content.

To take advantage of this either come along to our stall, number 56 on the ground floor, or head over to our special trial webpage at http://www.familyhistoryresearcher.com/WDYTYAcomp/

The Nosey Genealogists has gathered together in one fixed-term-membership site a collection of 52 weekly lessons that will aid the beginner in English & Welsh family history to become a more knowledgeable researcher.

Also of great value to the more advanced, the course explores the different resources, data sets and documents that can reveal more about your English or Welsh ancestors.

 Nick Thorne

Written from the practical point of view by Nick Thorne, an advanced beginner (as even the most experienced researcher is always learning more) and, with the aid of some lessons penned by professional genealogists, this course is delivered by email to your inbox to do at your own pace.

 

Topics covered in the 12 months include:

  • The census collections
  • The Parish records
  • The Parish Chest
  • Dade Registers
  • County Record offices and what valuable treasures they contain
  • Nonconformist
  • Religious records
  • Clandestine marriages
  • City and Town Directories
  • Census substitutes
  • Apprentices
  • Professionals
  • Army
  • Royal Navy
  • RAF
  • Merchant Navy
  • Illegitimacy
  • The Workhouse
  • Poor Law
  • Death records
  • Burial
  • Wills
  • Rural ancestors
  • Bankrupts
  • Black sheep
  • Genetics and DNA
  • Occupations
  • Maps and Charts
  • The National Archives
  • Other depositories
  • Family Search Centres
  • Passports
  • Manorial records
  • Newspapers
  • and more!

 

If you are attending the show then do please come over and say hello and tell us that you read this blog. You will then be able to enter our competition to win a free copy of our next product due out soon!

 

WDYTYA?LIVE Olympia 2010

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Will I see you at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE in February?

 

Welcome to Olympia's Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show
Welcome to Olympia’s Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show

I’ve been going to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show for a few years now and except for one, where the weather conspired to keep me away with thick fog marooning me in Jersey for days, I have seen the show go from strength to strength.

I love the mix of experts to consult, the varying subjects of the talks in the different theatres, the the range of family history exhibitors and the whole buzz of the show.

Tickets have gone on sale at their website and they have announced a number of exciting exhibitors new to the show, giving the visitor even more ways to explore their family history. Perhaps I could just draw your attention to the one at the bottom of this list, as the name may seem familiar?

New Exhibitors at the 2014 show Olympia, 20-22nd February:

  • Unlock the Past – this company combines hobbies and holidays by offering history and genealogy cruises, as well as genealogy e-books.
  • BRD Associates – preserve your story through their professional video life story recording, story books and old image restoration.
  • Borders Ancestry – if you have ancestors living throughout the Scottish Borders and Northumberland, then consider this professional research service.
  • QI Wellness Centre – a company who specialise in the healing of your family’s inherited patterns.
  • Calico Pie – try their family historian deluxe genealogy software for size
  • Open University – is it time for you to take a course to study family or local history?
  • Imperial War Museum – contribute to the museum’s ambitious WWI centenary project by uploading the life story of your ancestor’s role in WWI
  • RAF Museum – last at the show in 2011, get the very best advice in tracing your RAF ancestors
  • Fast Track Engraving – watch their demonstration of engraving and purchase your own memorial medallion to commemorate family members in WWI
  • Dr Williams Library – find out more about library research
  • Brythonium – create a tangible family history using their family legacy cards
  • The Book Alchemist – why not consider a virtual boot camp on how to turn your family history into a written legacy?
  • The Nosey Genealogist – take a family history course using downloadable tutorials and audio CDs’

Of course you don’t have to wait until the show to take advantage of my Family History Researcher Academy course on English and Welsh Family history as there is a banner ad on the right hand side of this very blog!

As for WDYTYA?LIVE, New exhibitors will continually be added in the run up to the show so don’t forget to keep checking to see who is going to be there at: http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com

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Family History Sites Mark Rememberence Day


ancestor, ancestry, family tree, family history, r

To coincide with Remembrance Day, UK family history site, www.GenesReunited.co.uk
has released a variety of military records taking its collection to 8.5 million.

The British Army Service Records are just one of the latest records added to the site and they include the Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service records from 1760-1913. These records are an important resource for family historians as they provide rich information on the soldier’s name, place of birth, regiment and the dates of service within the British Army.

New WW1 and WW11 Prisoner of War records have also been added to Genes Reunited. These records hold vital information; the Prisoner of War 1939 – 1945 records detail the prisoner’s name, rank, regiment, camp number, camp type and camp location.

Rhoda Breakell, Head of Genes Reunited, comments: “From the Harold Gillies Archive to the Military Nurses 1856 – 1940 we’ve released a huge variety of records. These new records will be an invaluable resource for people wanting an insight into the lives of their ancestors. ”

From today people interested in tracking down their ancestors can visit www.genesreunited.co.uk and search the latest records listed below:

· WWII Escapers and Evaders

· Military Nurses 1856 – 1940

· Army Reserve of England and Wales 1803

· 1st Foot Guards attestations 1775-1817

· Regimental Indexes 1806

· Manchester Roll of Honour 1914-1916

· Manchester City Battalions 1914-1916

· Royal Artillery Military Medals 1916-1991

· Royal Artillery Honours & Awards 1939-1946

· Harold Gillies Archive

· Royal Red Cross Register

· British Officers taken Prisoner of War between August 1914 and November 1918

· Prisoners of War – Naval & Air Forces of Great Britain & Empire – 1939-1945

· Prisoners of War – Armies and land Forces of the British Empire 1939-1945

· Oldham Pals 1914-1916

· Oldham Roll of Honour 1914-1916

· Prison Hulk Registers 1811-1843

· Ted Beard – RAF Nominal Roll 1918

· British Army Service Records 1760-1915 [WO 96 and WO 97]

WO 96 – Militia

WO 97 – Pensions 1760-1913

WO 119 – Kilmainham Pensions

WO 121 – CHEPS discharges

WO 122 – CHEPS discharges (foreign regiments)

WO 128 – Imperial Yeomanry

WO 131 – CHEPS deferred pensions 1838-1896

The newly added military records can be viewed on a pay-per-view basis or Platinum members can choose to add on the record set to their package for a low cost. The military records have been added to the existing military additional features package.

 

Meanwhile, over at TheGenealogist.co.uk

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

As we remember those who fought and fell in the Great War, TheGenealogist website is adding new military records to help you discover the role your ancestor played in the conflict. For example…

Hart’s Army List, 1908

Army List, July 1910

Army List, February 1917

 

Navy Lists

Navy List, December 1914

Navy List, February 1938

 

 

and at Ancestry.co.uk

More than 67,000 British military POW records published online – Ancestry.co.uk

Records contain details of British military personnel imprisoned during WWI and WWII

Famous pilot POWs Douglas Bader and William Ash are listed in the records

More than 14 million war records available to view free online at Ancestry.co.uk this Remembrance Day

Ancestry.co.uk, the family history website, recently launched online the UK Prisoner of War Records, 1914-1945, a collection spanning both World Wars and detailing the names of more than 67,000 British military POWs.

During WWI and WWII, thousands of servicemen were taken prisoner and forced to endure the harsh conditions of POW camps. These records detail the name, rank and regiment of these British military personnel as well their camp location, date of capture and release date.

Most of these newly digitalised records (59,000) pertain to WWII and pilot POWs are included for the very first time. The RAF and its pilots played a vital role in WWII both protecting UK airspace and attacking enemy ships, airbases and other industries key to the German war effort.

 

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Family History Can Be Frustrating Looking For A Breakthrough

I’ve hit many brick walls with the research into my Great Uncle and then today a little breakthrough gives me the confidence to go on.

I am sure that there are many of you that have had the same experience. You open up a genealogy search site and enter your ancestor’s name and some details into the search fields. You hit the Search button and hope that the next page will reveal your kin. Back come the results and depressingly none of them seem to be your man or woman.

Well this has been what I have been experiencing recently, after the initial decision to explore more about Harold Perring Matthews, who married my Great Aunt Winnie. He joined the RAF and gained rapid promotion and honours in WWII. To find out more I will probably have to send off for his service record, but at present I just want to establish the main vital records for him.

 

I had already found Harold’s birth registered in the GRO indexes for 1901 and he appeared in the 1901 census as being 1 month old on census night. I’d also found his marriage in the indexes in the 4th quarter of 1936, but could I find his death or anything else? No I could not!

I use a variety of genealogical subscription sites when doing my research and two of the main ones were not giving me any details of his death. I was wondering whether to just put him on the back burner and turn to someone else, when I fired up findmypast and noticed that there was one record for an Overseas Death reported to the GRO.

Eureka! Great Uncle Harold died in 1969 in Palma, Mallorca aged 68, and his death was reported by the consular authorities to the GRO in England. So it is that he appears in their Deaths Abroad Indices and not in the normal GRO index.

Think laterally and try more than one search site!

Find My Past has Overseas Death Records 1818-2005 amongst many other data sets.


Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

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The Family History Researcher and Harold P Matthews

Last week I wrote about how a family story had sent me off looking for my great-uncle Harold who served in the RAF during the Second World War and rising from Warrant Officer to Wing Commander in the Technical Branch.

One of my kind readers suggested a lead after they had done a Google search for H.P.Matthews that threw up a person of this name working for the Australian Department of Supply in a document referring to the Blue Streak Missile project. I had also come across something similar in Google Books and so was likewise wondering if there was a connection to Australia.

I set to work doing a trawl of Google search results and found a copy of an article in a 1959 copy of Flight Magazine with a picture of the Australian Government London Representative of the Department of Supply Mr H P Matthews.

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1959/1959%20-%202503.html

Regretfully I came to the conclusion that it didn’t look to me to be the same man. You see I have a picture of my Great-Uncle in my baby photo album! He and my great-aunt Winnie came to visit me in the late 1950’s (I was born in the summer of 1958) and there is one of them with me as a baby.

A further search of Google books have thrown up some snippet views of books that have Wg. Cdr H P Matthews appointed as the managing director of Zwicky Ltd in 1958. This company was a filters, pumps, airport ground equipment, pressure control valves, and hydraulic equipment manufacturer of Slough and Harold Matthews was also the MD of SkyHi Ltd. a hydraulic jack manufacturers also of Slough and possibly related to the first company.

 

I did a search on the website www.forces-war-records.co.uk and here I could see that H.P.Matthews was awarded the MBE, OBE and BEM, 1939-1945 War Medal, 1939-1945 Star and was Mentioned in Despatches, but not a lot else.

I am still at the beginning of cracking this family story and it is a major regret that I didn’t know Uncle Harold better. It would seem he was some sort of an aviation engineer, but I still don’t know what he did in the war that got him such promotion and honours!

http://www.apimages.com/oneup.aspx?rids=b122ed18743d49238762fd28fd2f913b

 

Disclosure: The above advert is a compensated affiliate link which may mean I get rewarded should you join their website.

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