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.
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.