26 March 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: George Ernest Flavell

George Flavell was born in 1892 in Wickliffe, Victoria, in Australia, the fourth child of George Flavell and his wife Sophia (nee Parrish).  He was my third cousin three times removed and grew up to work as a labourer in Moyston, Vic.  And that's really all I know about him as a man.

Of his time as a soldier I can tell you that he enlisted in August 1915 when he was 22 years and 10 months old; that he embarked on HMAT Thermistocles in Melbourne on 28 December 1916 and that he served in the Suez area before being moved to France.

I found letters in the Australian Red Cross Society Wounded & Missing Enquiry Bureau files (1914-18 War) which confirm that he was reported Missing believed Killed on 26 March 1917. It was only after these letters that his death near Bapaume was confirmed.  Six months after the event, his colleagues all wrote that George was blown in half by a shell on this day one hundred years ago.

We will remember them.

19 March 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: Norris Ernest Wiltshire

Norris Wiltshire was my second cousin three times removed and was born in Skelton, Yorkshire, in 1895, eldest of the seven children of Ernest and Ann (nee Norris).  In the 1901 census he was six years old and the family were still in Skelton; by 1911 the family had move a few miles north to Saltburn and young Norris, by now 16 years old, was "trapping in mines".

In the September quarter of 1914 he married Jane Marsh in Morpeth and they begat two daughters. He enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers and served with the second battalion in the Balkans area.

The Registers of Soldiers' Effects gives Norris's date of death as "between 10 September 1916 and 19 March 1917" in Bulgaria.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Doiran Memorial in Greece, the memorial to the missing of Salonika.

We will remember them.

15 March 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: William Arthur Staden

My cousin, three times removed, William Arthur Staden, together with his twin brother Frederick Walter, was born in Bury St Edmunds on 15 October 1876, the eighth and nine children of Joseph, a plumber and glazier, and his wife Eliza, nee Drury.  Frederick sadly died less than seven months later.

William grew up in Bury St Edmunds and then moved to London; the 1901 census shows him, aged 24 and a draper's assistant, living in the "Residence for Employees of Peter Robinson Ltd" in Marylebone.  In 1911 he was boarding in Westminster, by now a "draper traveller".  Come the Great War, by now in his mid-to-late thirties, he enlisted, in Westminster, as a private in the 12th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers.

He died on 15 March 1917, aged 40, and is buried in the Chocques Military Cemetery in the Pas de Calais region of France.

We will remember them.

5 March 2017

Mind the Gap......

I seem to have been more absent than present on here recently so I will recount a story of great achievement.....and a fair bit of luck!

Last weekend, whilst attempting to identify the people in my maternal grandparents' wedding photo (as you do), I sought light entertainment in the newspaper archives.  As I have done a few times before, I entered "Pates and Biggleswade" as search terms and sat back to await the results....and found the name of my illegitimate great-grandmother!!!!!!

Much excitement ensued, along with a transcription of the article.  It seems that greatx3 grandmother took the man to court and there it was in the Bedfordshire Times' Petty Sessions report: "Walter Roberts, labourer, Biggleswade, was charged by Mary Ann Pates, Biggleswade, with being the putative father of her illegitimate child.  He admitted paternity, and was ordered to pay 1s 6d, per week and 12s 6d costs."

That's filled a very large gap in the tree!  Now to sort out the puzzle of the great-grandmother's marriage....... that will take a very long time, not just the twenty-odd years it took to find her father.

More soon.