Saturday, 31 March 2012

War Memorials - Beyond the Internet


Cassmob at Family History Across the Seas, has introduced a series "Beyond the Internet" to highlight some of the sources for family stories beyond our computer screens.  The latest theme focuses on War Memrials.

Few families in the land could have escaped the impact of two World Wars, and my own was no exception.

War Memorials give no more than a stark name, yet they are one of the most powerful, poignant  and emotive of family history resources, recording the loss of young lives under harrowing circumstances. 


George Danson

John Danson with his fiancee
Dorothy Chisholm
My two great uncles died in the First World War, and are remembered on the  War Memorial at Poulton-le-Fylde,  Lancashire (photograph above).   George, the youngest of eight sons of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe.  was only 22 - a stretcher bearer in the Royal Army Medical Corps, killed at the Battle of the Somme 16th September 1916.   Eight months later. his brother,  John, a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, died.

So many local historians are now taking on board projects to research and publish accounts of the men behind the war memorial names.   

A prime earlier example from 1921  in my own town in the Scottish Borders  is "Hawick and the Great War:  A Pictorial Record" published by the local newspaper and featuring, with an index,  photographs of those who served,  together with wartime scenes of men marching away, and life on the  home front.  My archive centre also holds a large collection of postcards c.1920 featuring the unveiling of war memorials in towns and small villages across the region.  So it is always worth contacting your relevant  centre to see what has been done at a local level to record and remember those who gave their lives in war. 

War Memorials range from the simple to the ornate, yet all are in the own way moving.  

This is the imposing war memorial in  Hawick,   The setting is Wilton Lodge Park, a former 107 acre estate of the Pringle family, whose  home is now the town museum displaying illuminated rolls of honour of the war dead.   

Below is the war memorial (left)  at Oban on the west coast of Scotland. It is in a most beautiful peaceful setting, with a background of sea and hills over the Isle of Mull - far removed from the horrors of war.  Right - the memorial in the small village of Taynuilt, near Oban.



Copyright © 2012  Susan Donaldson - All Rights Reserved

4 comments:

  1. The long lists of names are so sobering but as you've said, the stories behind them are just so tragic. Thanks for providing both a family and regional perspective.

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  2. I forgot to say the Oban memorial is very powerful. We didn't see it so on the "to do" list for "next time"

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  3. Hi Sue, Ive been tracing a lot of my ancestors who were of the age to be in WW1. I have found a few interesting things but for the majority of them i have found no record. Such a shame a lot were destroyed in WW2 wasnt it.

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  4. Many thanks, Gill, for your comment. There were 5 sons serving in the First World War of my Danson ancestors and I only found one (George, who was killed in 1916), where his service record had survived. Have you tried your local archive centre/library? Mine (Heritage Hub, Hawick) has a good selection of published material at a very local village level on men who served and the local newspapers sre also good sources of info. not just on deaths, but also on men wounded and returning home. I was pleased to see another Scottish based blogger - there are not many of us and I would be happy to hear from you by e-mail - address at the top of my blog. Do get in touch.

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