After the birth of my nephew in 2009 I began thinking about all the family stories I could tell him, however I knew nothing beyond my Grandparents, which triggered my journey into my family history.
Knowing where I come from is of great importance to me and I was eager to learn not just what my ancestors’ names were, but to also discover the types of lives they led. Whilst researching Two Pa’s (my Grandfather) side of the tree I came across a family who still to this day intrigue me. They seemed very ahead of their time and quite unconventional for a late Victorian to early Edwardian family.
One person who stuck out to me from the word ‘go’ was my Great Great Uncle Edward, who fought in World War One. I was surprised to find someone in the family who had been part of the war, as no one in my family knew about him. I purchased numerous certificates to ensure that Edward was part of my family tree and thankfully my money hadn’t been wasted, this was an Uncle of mine!
Edward was one of eleven children and was brought up by both of his parents until he was six when his father suddenly died, leaving his mother (Catherine) to bring up eleven children on her own. The family stayed together in their three-bedroom house, where most of the clan (including the ladies) worked for the Raleigh Bicycle Company.
However, everything changed in 1916 when Edward signed up to fight in the Great War leaving behind his wife and newborn child. Five months after joining the war, Edward was sadly killed in action (19 September 1916).
I wanted to learn more about Edward, however no one in my family knew about him and could not give me answers to my questions. A couple of months later, I was able to track down one of Edward’s direct descendants who was living down under. She was able to fill in many missing gaps for me as well as sending me pictures of Edward, his family and of course his war medal. She told me that after the war, many members of the family moved around for work and everyone simply fell out of touch. This is probably why I had never heard of Edward before I began my family tree.
In 2013, it was announced that the World War One wills were going to be released. On the release date, I eagerly waited for Edward’s will to see if it would offer me any further insights into his life. Sadly the will did not say much, however it impressed upon me what effects a short statement like this might have had on my ancestors when Edward was pronounced dead.
Now that the centenary of the war is upon us, I will be soon working much harder to research my World War One family history to commemorate my fallen Uncle. There is nothing more important to me than showing my respect to all of those who protected our country and of course keeping the memory of my forgotten Uncle Edward alive.
have you been researching you ancestors, if so what have you uncovered? SHARE YOUR STORIES BELOW!