Category Archives: Military records

Imperial War Museum’s images of the Blitz

 

The Imperial War Museum has published on its website a series of 15 powerful images of the Blitz: http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/15-powerful-photos-of-the-blitz

For those of us who were not born then, but had family who lived through this period, these images give us some idea of the shocking devastation that they lived with.

The Blitz began on Saturday 7 September when the Germans attacked London with 350 bombers escorted by 600 fighters. The attack lasted from 5pm until 4.30am the following morning. 335 tons of high explosive and 440 incendiary canisters were dropped during that raid.

On “Black Saturday”, 7 September 1940, 430 Londoners were killed and 1,600 injured. 41 German aircraft were shot down by RAF Fighter Command for a loss of 25. To escape the bombing 5,000 East Enders slept out in Epping Forest.

London was then bombed for 57 consecutive nights, and often during the daytime too. The most destructive raid was on 10/11 May 1941.That night the chamber of the House of Commons was destroyed and 1,436 civilians killed. Over 155,000 families were without gas, water or electricity and fires burned for ten days. 507 German bombers raided London that night dropping 711 tons of high explosive and 2,393 incendiary canisters.

Coventry, an important engineering and armaments producing centre, was raided on 14/15 November 1940 when 449 bombers dropped 503 tons of high explosive and 881 incendiary canisters (containing 30,000 bombs) on the city. The Cathedral was destroyed, 554 people were killed and 850 seriously injured. Despite the devastation production was back to normal in 6 weeks.

Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow, and Plymouth were the most heavily bombed cities after London. Glasgow had 5 major raids, the others 8. 23,602 civilians were killed during the Blitz outside London, 1940-1941.

During heavy bombings over Manchester from 22 – 24 December 1940, over 650 people were killed and 50,000 homes damaged. For the rest of the Second World War, Manchester United had to play at Manchester City’s ground because Old Trafford was damaged by bombs.

The Second Great Fire of London took place on 29/30 December 1940, and while a relatively small number of civilians were killed -163- much material damage was done especially to historic buildings including 8 churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren. 136 aircraft raided London that night dropping 127 tons of high explosives and 613 incendiary canisters.

During the Blitz 177,000 Londoners were regularly using Tube stations as shelters. These were not always safe: 64 people were killed at Balham on 15 October 1940 while 111 died at the Bank on 11 January 1941.

In 85 major raids on London the Luftwaffe dropped 23,949 tons of high explosive. Holborn was the most heavily bombed borough with 39.75 high explosive bombs per 100 acres. 20,083 Londoners were killed during the 1940-1941 Blitz. 60,595 British civilians were killed during the Second World War.

Among the many historic buildings destroyed or damaged in the London Blitz were: The Guildhall, the House of Commons, the Royal Hospital Chelsea, St Paul’s Cathedral, the British Museum and Buckingham Palace. The Imperial War Museum was also bombed several times, the worst “incident” taking place on the night of 31 January 1941. The BBC was bombed on 15 October 1940.

Coventry Bomb Damage
Coventry Bomb Damage – Taylor (Lt) – War Office official photographer

New WW1 Records Released

New avenues of research are opened up by the latest release of unique Great War records online.

During the First World War many servicemen were reported as ‘Missing’ or ‘Killed in Action’ and for the first time you can now search a comprehensive list of these online. Usefully this includes the changing status of soldiers as the facts became clearer over time, as many assumed dead were found alive and those reported missing had their status updated.

TheGenealogist logo

This new release from TheGenealogist contains over 800,000 records. Included are 575,000 Killed in Action records, over 226,000 unique Missing-in-Action records and 14,000 Status Updates.

Over 100,000 people previously reported as missing had further status updates:

  • 59,500 were later reported as killed

  • 47,400 were later reported as PoW

  • 2,000 were later reported as rejoined

  • 4,200 were later reported as “not missing”

  • 8,400 were later reported as wounded

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments:

“The telegrams and published lists of Dead and Missing must have had a huge impact on the lives of our ancestors. These records give an insight into what must have been an emotional roller coaster. They also give new avenues of research into what some researchers may have assumed were dead ends.”

These records are now available to Diamond subscribers of TheGenealogist.

Example 1 Thought to be dead

Some people initially reported to be dead may turn out to be alive; the change in status is usually reported in the War Lists. If it had been assumed that an ancestor was dead, from the initial report, it could reopen a closed off branch of a family tree for further research.

An example of this type of positive record status change is Flight Sub Lieutenant Trechmann who was first reported as “Died As A Prisoner” in the Daily Lists of 6th June 1917.

Flight Sub Lieutenant Trechmann who was first reported as “Died As A Prisoner” in the Daily Lists of 6th June 1917.

By the end of July 1917 his status changed to Previously Reported Died As A Prisoner, Now Reported Alive and Still a Prisoner.

Finally, in December 1918, his records show that he was Repatriated.

PoW camp in the image archives on TheGenealogist

Example 2 Thought to be wounded

A different illustration, on many levels, is that of the 5th Earl of Longford. Within the Daily Casualty List on TheGenealogist for the 6th September 1915, we can find Lord Longford who had previously been reported as “Wounded”.

5th Earl Of Longford

Lord Longford "Wounded" 6 Sep 1915 in records on TheGenealogistHis status was then changed to be “Now Reported Wounded and Missing” and this alteration appeared in the daily list of the 27th September 1915

Lord Longford Previously Reported Wounded in Military records on TheGenealogist

During the First World War, Brigadier-General Lord Longford was in command of a division sent from their base in Egypt to Suvla on the Gallipoli peninsula as reinforcements during the Battle of Sari Bair.

The initial attack by other Divisions on Scimitar Hill had failed. With his men waiting in reserve, the 5th Earl and his troops were then ordered to advance in the open across a dry salt lake. Under fire, most of the brigades had taken shelter, but Lord Longford led his men in a charge to capture the summit of Scimitar Hill. Unfortunately, during the advance, he was killed.

Earl Longford’s body was never recovered and so, in the confusion of war, he was first recorded as “Wounded”, and then “Wounded and Missing”. Eventually, in 1916, he would be assumed to be dead.

Posterity tells us that the peer’s last words were recorded as: “Don’t bother ducking, the men don’t like it and it doesn’t do any good”.

To read more about these records and to read a featured article on TheGenalogist here.

Unique Military Medal Records released by TheGenealogist

Over 117,000 ‘Military Medals’ were awarded in the First World War for ‘acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire’. These records are now available to view online complete with an image of the actual Medal Card and a link to the official government publication of the time. It’s a unique, comprehensive set of records available only onTheGenealogist.co.uk.

The Military Medal was the equivalent to the Military Cross (MC) which was awarded to commissioned officers. The Military Medal ranked below the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), which was also awarded to non-commissioned members of the Army but was still a very prestigious award to be honoured with.

The Military Medal was awarded to ‘Non Commissioned Officers and Other  Ranks’ for showing exceptional courage in battle. It was also awarded for those that risked their lives trying to save others, often in extreme danger. The Medal Records on TheGenealogist show people from a wide range of backgrounds and social classes, including a number of young women from very privileged families who chose to drive ambulances and rescue the wounded in the mud of battle.

The role of ‘stretcher bearer’ was one of the most dangerous jobs of the time and the records show many women bridged social constraints of the time to risk life and limb to help rescue and bring in soldiers wounded in battle.

If you’d like to find out more, TheGenealogist has full details of the new medal record release including some fascinating case studies on the brave recipients of the Military Medal.

Find out more at TheGenealogist Military Medal Collection.

Military Medal Winners
New record release from TheGenealogist covers the 117,000 winners of the Military Medal

New military record sets added to TheGenealogist

Recent developments at TheGenealogist have seen the release of over 650,000 individuals who died in the First World War. Details include name, rank, regiment, place of birth, place of residence, place of enlistment, service number and the cause, date and place of death. These records are uniquely linked to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to show you where your ancestor is commemorated.

Soldiers Who Died in the Great War has been added to the huge military collection on TheGenealogist, encompassing many unique record sets from Casualty Lists and War Memorials,  to Rolls of Honour and much more.

Further details are available from TheGenealogist website.

Soldiers who died in the First World War
New First World War records added to TheGenealogist

New military CD released by S&N Genealogy

If you’re looking for information on on a certain regiment or have a general interest in military history, the latest data CD from S&N may be of interest.

Newly released is ‘The History of the Northumberland Fusiliers 1674-1902’. With over 220 years covered and including some of the major campaigns the regiment fought in, such as the American Revolution and the Anglo-Spanish War, it’s a fascinating CD resource.

Each chapter of the regiment’s history is described in detail and also contains maps and illustrations. More information can be found on the S&N Genealogy website.

The History of the Northumberland Fusiliers-1674-1902
New military CD released by S&N Genealogy

 

New First World War Prisoner of War Records launched online

Latest news from TheGenealogist is the launch of over 80,000 fully searchable records of British and Commonwealth prisoners, of all ranks, who were captured in the First World War. The new records provide access to records of all servicemen taken prisoner between 1914 to 1918.

From Senior Officers captured, to the NCOs and Privates in the Infantry, the records are all found in the exclusive ‘Prisoner of War’ collection on TheGenealogist.  You can search all ranks for the first time on any family history website, giving access to the many soldiers, sailors and airmen captured and held behind enemy lines.

The records are fully searchable and provide the main details including, forename, surname, rank, regiment and the date the information was received. Records are found quickly and easily using the specific ‘Prisoner of War’ interface on TheGenealogist. 

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: “The new Prisoner of War records we’ve published are a great new unique resource for all family historians. If our ancestors were either officers or in the lower ranks, there’s now more chance than ever to discover their details including when they were taken prisoner and when they were released. Sadly many men never returned and our records will hopefully show the brave men who endured the terrible hardships of the Prisoner of War camps will not be forgotten and can now easily be traced by their descendants.”

More details can be found here on TheGenealogist.

PoW Camp in Germany
New prisoner of war records now available on TheGenealogist