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Military Monday - Percival Richardson. Royal Engineers Part I

I've recently added my 2x Great Uncle Percival Richardson to Lives of the First World War . I've already posted a few posts abo...

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Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Part I
Part II
Part III

Following on from my last post I wanted to see if I could find out exactly what Uncle Percy had been doing when he was wounded on the 22nd of April 1918. His service record didn't help with this & neither did my attempts at tracking the movements of 97th Field Company RE using online resources.

The National Archives have now digitised their entire collection of WW1 war diaries and they are a mine of information, full of day-to-day activities. They are easily searchable by Unit and cost a mere £3.50 to download. I found the relevant diary quite easily and was able to track Percy's movements in more detail.

Following the retreat from Messines the Company were responsible for mining and destroying bridges over the Comines Canal to delay the German advance. The Diary of Thomas Fredrick Littler of the Royal Engineers notes this on the 12th April:

I saw a furious battle in the air this morning, 4 German planes engaging three British, 2 German planes and two British came down and fell in our lines, 1 German plane caught fire and fell in his own lines, the other one made his escape, and the remaining British plane hovered above and then made off. In the afternoon we had to go and re-mine a bridge crossing the Ypres Canal, placing 70 lbs of guncotton under it, and connected with both electric and instantaneous fuse, finished at midnight.

Strange to think that Uncle Percy would most likely also have witnessed this.

On the 16th of April 1918 the Company had marched to Ouderdom where they were joined by eighty-nine reinforcements. Over the next couple of days they were working on a line to G.H.Q. and at Brigade Head Quarters erecting shelters. The 18th of April saw them working on the defences in the area; erecting wire around Voormezeele along with breastwork* and knife rests** at the Brasserie (stores) dump in anticipation of a German offensive. A day later work also begins on machine gun emplacements in Voormezeele.

The Village of Voormezeele


On the 22nd, the day Percy was wounded, the Company had beguin work on the Voormezeele - Kruisstraat switch.*** The unit diary notes:

 22nd April 1918 Nos 1, 2 and 4 and 1st Lincs continued work. No3 and 12/B NF commenced work on VOORMEZEELE - KRUISSTRAATHOER switch.
Lt GG McLean, 1 sapper and 3 attached infantry (1st Lincs) wounded.

The wounded sapper mentioned is Uncle Percy, but it gives no detail as to how the men were wounded.  It is possible that the men were wounded by enemy snipers, known to be active at the time.

After Percy was taken to hospital in Boulogne, the Company continued working on defences such as breastworks across the roads, as the Germans began heavy shelling on the area. Voormezeele fell into German hands at the end of April and was retaken the following September.


No. 13 General Hospital Boulogne


So, back to Uncle Percy and what he did next....



*Breastworks were above ground trenches, like a defensive wall & usually used on boggy ground.
**Knife rests were wooden supports for barbed wire.
***A switch trench connected two trenches that ran parallel to the front line. They were used in areas where there was a risk of the enemy overcoming the main trench and exposing it to attack from the sides. The switch line would protect the flanks by becoming a front line trench.

Picture Credit: http://voiceseducation.org/content/world-war-i-ypres
Picture Credit: https://mitchamwarmemorial.wordpress.com/tag/percy-young/


Wednesday, 6 April 2016


These are a few photos from my Great Aunt Joy's photo albums. I think they date from around 1935-8. The comments in the brackets are mine

Doris & Chummy


Chummy - Age 4 months. (How gorgeous is he?!)






Jean Grimes
Grandma Pyne (Isabella nee Brown)
Grandma (Isabella nee Brown) & Peggy


Grandpa Pyne (Harry)
Uncle Granville (Pyne)



Grandma (Isabella nee Brown) & Grandpa (Harry) Pyne & I (Joy)














Grandma(Isabella nee Brown)  & Grandpa (Harry) Pyne & I (Joy)

Auntie Cissie & Uncle Harold (Pyne)


Grandma(Isabella nee Brown)  & Grandpa (Harry) Pyne














Mother & Daddie (Isabella 'Bella' Pyne & Clarence W.B. Bucknall)


Jean Slater



Jean, Joan, Mabel & I (Joy)













Uncle Harold (Pyne) & Major


Audrey

Monday, 29 February 2016


  
Just a quick update of this post, mainly so I can keep track of what I've achieved.

1.    Finish searching the French online records for my Oldham family in Calais. The Census and Birth/Marriage/Death records are all freely available online. I've found the family in 1866, but also need to look further back to see if the previous generation spent time there and also if any of them went to Australia. I've completed searching the years 1841, 1851, 1861, 1866, 1872 and have begun 1836. I've also checked the Oldham family research I've done so far & have decided to go back to the start & recheck everything; they are a very confusing bunch! So until I've done this I won't be starting items 2, 3, or 4 on this list.

2.    Transcribe sections of Joseph Woolley's diary and finish reading/copying the remainder at the Nottingham Archives. Continuing with the Oldham family, but this time in Clifton, Nottinghamshire. Joseph Woolley was a framework knitter from Clifton, as well as his own business his diary documents he commented on his neighbours and local events. I need to transcribe the pages I've already photographed and finish reading the remaining sections in the Archives. Not started yet.

3.    Finish checking the Methodist records at the Nottinghamshire Archives. I'm mostly looking for Oldhams in these records, but other family names have cropped up too. Not started yet.

4.   Make use of the Nottinghamshire Family History Society's research room. To find more Oldham information, specifically Thomas Oldknow Oldham's birth/baptism around 1834. Also check their online databases. Not started yet.

5.    Finish reading Percy Richardson's war diary and finish the blog posts. Not started this yet.

6.    Tidy and reorganise documents, certificate and books. Before ordering any more! I've started clearing unwanted paperwork & filing the rest.

7.    Check out parish records on Find My Past. Look for my May family in Frant, Sussex from 1600 working backwards. Not started yet.

8.   Visit some local churchyards to look for gravestones. Sawley, Moira, Donisthorpe, Church Wilne, Draycott, Basford, Ashby-de-la-Zouch & others aren't too far away to visit and record any memorial inscriptions. I'll leave this until the summer.

9.    Look for tithe maps and census information for Pilsley. To find out who lived in and/or owned my late father-in-law's farmhouse. I now have copies of the deeds going back to 1901 and have researched one of the owners via the census. It appears the owner later passed the property on to his son, so he's the next individual to research.

10. Start scanning photos. I received a Doxie Flip as a Christmas present so I'm intending to scan and share many of my photos. I've scanned quite a few family photos & shared them via Dropbox with family members. I've also started scanning and sharing Auntie Joy's photo albums.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016



I realised recently that although I have been adding new information to my tree, I had completely forgotten to keep the spreadsheet I had spent hours on a couple of years ago updated - arrggh!





The spreadsheet exercise has proved very useful in the past so I'm fairly annoyed with myself at not keeping it up. I'll need to sit down with it at some point soon and go back through it to check everything, but in the meantime it reminded me that I am still missing a handful of BMD certificates for some of my direct ancestors. So I've treated myself to three, the first being the birth certificate for my Great-Grandfather George Wallis. He was born in Appleby in 1879 to James and Sarah (nee Mortimer).




The only new information it gave me was his actual birthdate, I had already found his baptism at St. Michael's church, Appleby, in Leicestershire Archives. It did remind me though, that I haven't got any further back with the Wallis line than James, George's father. The census entries I've found for James in 1861 and 1871 reveal him living with his grandparents, George and Mary, who had six or seven children, so he could be the illegitmate offspring of any of those. James doesn't give a father's name on his marriage certificate - something else to add to the "to-do" list!

So, Tuesday's tip; if you're going to make an effort organising your research - keep it updated! Otherwise you could be making yourself a few hours of extra work. :-(






Thursday, 21 January 2016


I'm very thankful for a large parcel that arrived one day last week. 

I've posted before about my Great Aunt Joy who emigrated to Australia - she gave me a Nottingham lace bedspread some years ago, which was designed by her Grandfather William Bucknall.

 
Sadly Auntie Joy passed away in July last year at the grand age of 90. She and her husband, Don, my grandmother's brother, had enjoyed a fantastic life in Australia, making many new friends along the way. 


It was one of these friends that was kind enough to send me today's parcel which contains Joy & Don's photo albums. 


I'm over the moon to receive them, especially as they all seem to be dated and labelled with both names and places.
 
I'm intending to scan the most relevant ones and share them with the rest of the family (whether they like it or not!) via Dropbox.


Monday, 4 January 2016


My genealogy 'to-dos' are numerous & I never seem to make much progess, probably because I'm too easily distracted by those pesky shaking leaves* on Ancestry!

So I've decided to list the top ten things I could really do with getting to the bottom of and hope that a list will keep me focussed!




  1. Finish searching the French online records for my Oldham family in Calais. The Census and Birth/Marriage/Death records are all freely available online. I've found the family in 1866, but also need to look further back to see if the previous generation spent time there and also if any of them went to Australia.
  2. Transcribe sections of Joseph Woolley's diary and finish reading/copying the remainder at the Nottingham Archives. Continuing with the Oldham family, but this time in Clifton, Nottinghamshire. Joseph Woolley was a framework knitter from Clifton, as well as his own business his diary documents he commented on his neighbours and local events. I need to transcribe the pages I've already photographed and finish reading the remaining sections in the Archives.
  3. Finish checking the Methodist records at the Nottinghamshire Archives. I'm mostly looking for Oldhams in these records, but other family names have cropped up too.
  4. Make use of the Nottinghamshire Family History Society's research room. To find more Oldham information, specifically Thomas Oldknow Oldham's birth/baptism around 1834. Also check their online databases.
  5. Finish reading Percy Richardson's war diary and finish the blog posts.
  6. Tidy and reorganise documents, certificate and books. Before ordering any more!
  7. Check out parish records on Find My Past. Look for my May family in Frant, Sussex from 1600 working backwards.
  8. Visit some local churchyards to look for gravestones. Sawley, Moira, Donisthorpe, Church Wilne, Draycott, Basford, Ashby-de-la-Zouch & others aren't too far away to visit and record any memorial inscriptions.
  9. Look for tithe maps and census information for Pilsley. To find out who lived in and/or owned my late father-in-law's farmhouse.
  10. Start scanning photos. I received a Doxie Flip as a Christmas present so I'm intending to scan and share many of my photos.
So - lots to do!



*if you have your family tree uploaded to Ancestry, they kindly add a little 'shaking leaf' to any family member they may have records available for, which is usually enough to distract me from doing what I'd orginally logged on to do in the first place!



Wednesday, 9 December 2015


I've recently been searching for my Oldham family in Calais, France.

My 3xgreatgrandparents Thomas Oldham and Harriet (nee Winfield) and their sons William and Thomas are missing from the 1861 UK census, but reappear on the 1871 census with five more children, all born in Calais between 1861 and 1870.

The Archives of Pas-de-Calais had already sent me copies of the birth registrations, which reveal the dates and times of their births, both parent's ages, the mother's maiden name and the family's current address - so very useful.

The Calais Archives have digitised many of their records and they are freely available online, unlike the UK's records. The French took a census every five years from 1836; the 1866 one falls nicely in the middle of the period I'm looking for.

None of the records are indexed, so they aren't searchable by name, which means finding the correct district and working through it page by page. It's very time consuming, but well worth it - I found Thomas and his family living on the rue du Jardin des Plantes:




Thomas and his eldest son, William, were working as 'tullistes'. This is a term specific to the Calais area and means a mechanical technician highly specialised in the manufacture of tulle and lace. Thomas and Henriette (Harriet) had six children, William (12) and Thomas (10) who were born in Nottingham and John (7), Eliza (5), Enoch (2) and Anne (2 months) who were born in Calais.


From Google Maps


On the same census, just around the corner, I found Gervase Oldham, Thomas' brother, and his family. They were living on the rue du Temple.



Gervase, or Jervis, also worked as a tulliste and was living with his wife Mary (nee Taylor) and three children, James (3) and Jervas and Eliza (both aged 2 months). The family were back in Nottingham by the 1871 census, but without their daughter Eliza. By this time Gervase and Mary had had another daughter, Eliza Jane born in Calais in 1869, so it's more than likely that the first Eliza died at a young age.  More trawling through the French records should reveal if that was the case.

Also living with the family was Emma Taylor, an unmarried woman aged 21 who was working as a lace operator. She is likely to be Mary's younger sister.

So now I've filled in the gap in the 1860s for the Oldham family, I need to go back to the French records to see if I can find the births and death in Gervase and Mary's family.

I'll also be looking through the French census records to see if Thomas' and Gervase's parents, William and Eliza, were living in France without their children around 1851. They are missing from the English census of that year, but their children are in Long Eaton with their grandparents.