For the last few months, I have been researching my family tree. At first, it was being done on paper, and by hand, This can be very daunting for some, yet a perfect method for others.
I fall into the former group…
as soon as I had keyed in the information that I had, I moved onto ancestry.com, and I have never looked back.
I have discovered family that reaches back to the 1600’s, mostly in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but there have been a few interesting finds along the way, too.
One man died in the 1800’s in Papua New Guinea, while I have found a few who have died in various battles of WW1 and WW2. Until starting my research, I did not know any relatives had served at the front, let alone did not return. My Granddad served in Papua New Guinea during WW2, but did not face any combat that I am aware of. He had joined towards the end of the war, and managed to stay away from Europe and the Pacific fronts.
Discovering that firstly, I had relatives I did not know about, and secondly, that they died defending our country and our freedoms is a rather moving experience, especially when no one else in the family knew of them. I have not been able to find photos of the people, however, I have managed to find their military records via the National Archives, and through them,
I have learnt that one was only 19, trained for 6 months before being shipped to France, straight onto the front line, and as a result, died a week later in the battle of Pozzieres.
Another was in his early 20’s. engaged to be married when he signed up, probably for a bit of an adventure. He was shipped off to Belgium, fought in the battle of Ypes, but was missing in action. No body, no sign of him. his fiancé wrote to the armed forces a few times asking for updates, until they finally replied with a letter saying “We have found out about a month ago that he has died.” the heartache she must have felt, not knowing, clinging to hope, and then to be told in such a cold and callous way that he has been dead for a month and they forgot to inform her.
Whilst I am doing the tree, I try to imagine what it would be like to have all of the people I am discovering to be in a group, and just how wide and varied the group would be. The stories that could be told and shared. The heartache and anger a lot of them must have faced in their various hardships.
It is a most rewarding experience for me to know exactly how far back my family goes back, and just how populated it has become in the last 150 or so years since settlement in Australia.
There will definitely be more updates on my tree, as I uncover more and more about my history… stay tuned!