Category Archives: World War Two records

TheGenealogist adds another 15,000 names from 53 new War Memorials

In time for Armistice day TheGenealogist has added to their War Memorial records on the website so that there are now over 383,000 fully searchable records.

Mark Herber's photo of a War Memorial at Olds, Alberta
War Memorial at Olds, Alberta in Canada newly added to TheGenealogist

This latest release includes war memorials from Worcestershire and South Yorkshire as well as some further monuments from Australia, Canada, London and various other British counties. A more unusual one added in this release is from Olds, in Alberta, Canada – the memorial is a Sherman tank!

War Memorial at Olds, Alberta in Canada newly added to TheGenealogist

Fully searchable by name, researchers can read transcriptions and see images of the dedications that commemorate soldiers who have fallen in the Boer War, WW1 and various other conflicts.

 

These new records are available as part of the Diamond Subscription at TheGenealogist.

Read our article on War Memorials that reveal WW1 heros, The neglected Sheffield soldier finally recognised, at:

https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/featuredarticles/2017/war-memorials-that-reveal-ww1-heroes-681/

 

Launch of new website – War-Memorial.co.uk

War-Memorial.co.uk, is the brand new website dedicated to Photographing, Transcribing and preserving war memorial records for the future, has just launched online providing a unique service that allows the researcher to find their ancestor using the largest collection of combined War Memorial records and images currently available anywhere.

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This project is based on Mark Herber’s growing collection of war memorial photographs and personally checked transcriptions. It honours those men and women, who died or served our country in military conflict over the years and it already features over 20,000 detailed photographs of more than 1,200 memorials, commemorating over 270,000 people, with their names (and the memorial’s information about them) transcribed and indexed.

With regular additions of photographs, names and information to War-Memorial.co.uk expected as the months go by, War-Memorial.co.uk is the place to find your ancestors immortalised on the country’s war memorials.

Details that can be found in these memorial records include:

  • Name
  • Regiment, unit or ship
  • War or date of death
  • Rank and medals
  • Photograph of the War Memorial from multiple angles and zooms

War-Memorial.co.uk’s collection includes a very large number of records from the Boer War of 1899-1902 and WW1 and WW2, but it also includes memorials from as early as the 17th century up to very recent conflicts such as Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Soldiers, sailors, aircrew and civilians are all featured – and not just those who died. Many men and women who served but survived also appear in the records.

Using the sophisticated search technology and just basic details you can locate full information on War Memorials on which men and women are commemorated, find more details about them (such as their regiments, ships, ranks and medals), discover the location of the War Memorial and see images of the memorial itself and a close up view of the name of your ancestor!

War-Memorial.co.uk is offering some great value options to suit every pocket starting at £5 for a month’s access, £9.95 quarterly, or take out a great value annual subscription at only £29.95.

With regular additions of photographs, names and information to War-Memorial.co.uk expected as the months go by. War-Memorial.co.uk is the place to find your ancestors immortalised on the country’s war memorials.

 

Example of finding your ancestor in the records

Here we find the unusual records of a Thomas Ambrose, who was killed in 1916 by a bomb from a German airship flying over Sudbury. The transcribed record details how he died and where he is commemorated, as shown below:

war-memorial search

Each transcript brings up details of the memorial with overview images of the entire memorial so you can find your ancestor using just their name, locate their memorial and add the images and information to your family history records, or even plan your visit!

 
war-memorial

Click here to find out more: http://war-memorial.co.uk/

Find World War II Prisoners Of War online

Leading British Genealogy Website, TheGenealogist, has added over 150,000 World War II Prisoner of War records to its already significant military records collection. These new records detail Officers and other ranks from the British Army, Royal Navy, RAF and those members of the British Empire land forces that were held as Prisoners of War in Germany and German Occupied territories.

This release will allow researchers to discover servicemen held by the Germans between 1939-1945 and includes many of the brave escapees whose stories of breaking out and dashing to freedom have captured the imagination for decades.

These records allow us to:

  • Research POWs who served in Armies and other land forces of Britain and the Empire 1939-45 along with the Naval and Air Forces of Great Britain and the Empire 1939-1945

  • Find names and details of men who were captured and incarcerated in German POW camps in Europe

  • Check the details such as names, service numbers, and regiments of ancestors that were German POWs

  • Search for daring escapees from within the camp lists

  • Research where your military ancestors were held, revealing their camp number and location

  • Discover the ranks, POW numbers, Service numbers and Regiments of those held

Covering the Nazi German camps in Europe, these lists are taken from official alphabetical nominal registers and reveal names and other particulars of:

  • 94,608 British POWs in Germany, including Officers and other ranks

  • 39,805 POWs from Empire Land Forces

  • 19,250 Naval & Air Force POWs from Britain & its Empire

Joining an already comprehensive range of military records on TheGenealogist that span from 1661 to the 1940s, these lists are a useful addition for researchers. TheGenealogist’s military collections already include Army, Navy and Air Force Lists, Dambuster records, First World War POWs, plus many other records.

Examining some of the names of WWII Prisoners of War released online at TheGenealogist.co.uk allows us to uncover the brave and determined Allied servicemen who made escape attempts from the Nazi German PoW Camps. One brave serviceman, although hampered by being a double amputee from an air accident from before the war, still did his duty to try and escape.

The famous WW2 Air Ace with no legs – Douglas Bader

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Douglas Bader by Devon S A (Mr), Royal Air Force official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

From the RAF Officers listed in the recently released Second World War Prisoner of War lists on TheGenealogist, we can find Acting Wing Commander Douglas Bader, whose story was immortalized in the book and film Reach for the Sky.

On 9th August 1941, Bader, a formidable air ace, was flying a Spitfire on patrol over France when he was forced to bail out over German-occupied territory. He had jettisoned the spitfire’s cockpit canopy, released his harness pin, and the air rushing past the open cockpit started to suck him out. Unfortunately, for Bader, his prosthetic leg was trapped in the plane and he was part way out of the cockpit but still attached to his aircraft. Bader and his aircraft fell for some time before he released his parachute, at which point the leg’s retaining strap snapped under the strain and so he managed to get free of the plane. Captured, the Germans treated him with respect and even gave the British free passage to drop off a replacement leg for Bader over a German occupied French airfield.

POW WW2 on TheGenealogist

Bader didn’t appreciate being a prisoner of war and made a number of escape attempts. Because he was considered likely to break out again by his captors, he was eventually sent to the infamous Colditz Castle – as we can see from the record on TheGenealogist, it shows he was incarcerated in Camp No: O4C which relates to Oflag 4C Saalhaus Colditz. It was here that Douglas Bader remained for the rest of the war until April 1945 when the camp was eventually liberated by the United States Army.

His name can be seen on the Battle of Britain War Memorial on the Victoria Embankment. A record, plus an image of this memorial, can be found on TheGenealogist amongst other military records that also include mentions of Douglas Bader in the various Air Lists.

The addition of the World War II Prisoner of War records to TheGenealogist gives family historians a fascinating insight into this period of recent history and allows them to add more depth to their research.

War Memorial Records on TheGenealogist
War Memorial Records on TheGenealogist

 

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

World War 2 RAF Casualty records now available to view

According to the latest news from The National Archives website, a collection of Second World War RAF casualty records has now been released to view.

The records were produced by the Air Ministry’s casualty branch following the loss of an aircraft or personnel. They include accident reports and correspondence with next of kin.

Known as the AIR 81 series, the first tranche  contains 316 packs dating from the beginning of the war in September 1939 to May 1940. However, many of the files contain correspondence which runs into the 1950s and even the 1960s.

This first collection of records does include some notable RAF raids from the early years of World War 2, such as the raid on the Albert Canal Bridges in Belgium in May 1940 when five aircraft from RAF No 12 Squadron were lost and the first Victoria Crosses of the war were awarded.

There’s more details at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/903.htm

New RAF Records released
New RAF casualty records released from the start of World War Two.

New Home Guard records now available online

The National Archives at Kew has, according to their website, made a further 20,000 digitised Home Guard records for County Durham available online, which adds to the 40,000 records already available from the site as part of a pilot project.The records are a great way of finding details of a relative who may have been part of the defence organisation of the British Army consisting of 4.5 million volunteers in World War Two. There’s more details at the TNA website here.