Thursday, 23 March 2017

Who do you think you were in the Great War?

My Grandfather, to the left of my Great-grandfather,
Heinrich Hoenen (with his Iron Cross tucked into his jacket)
What was your family doing during the Great War?  It's a question we ask as part of our learning resources to explore the impact of the Great War in Birmingham.

In Soldier's Footsteps, our learning resources, help schools make the most of a visit Lodge Hill cemetery to explore Birmingham in the Great War.  As part of the resources we consider an exploration of genealogy - to consider how our families contributed places each one of us in our own history of World War One.

Researching a specific individual such as a family member or distant relative requires a slightly different research approach to that of researching those commemorated in memorials or cemeteries. It is important to emphasise that without the full name of the individual and additional information such as age, place of birth (or residence before war) and rank it is extremely difficult to find information and records obtaining to certain individuals, particularly with the already limited documents and sources available from the First World War.

However, ancestry websites are most useful in these cases when attempting to find out information about the life of a particular individual (such as whether they were married or had any children). Some of these websites require membership and payment to access all the documents although a fairly comprehensive biography can be composed of the information available which is free.

National archives are also another source of information when researching a particular individual. Below are websites which lead to archives on British army records or soldiers fighting specifically on the Western Front. Again, these archives are extensive and include a wide range of different records and documents therefore having as much information on the individual being researched is helpful as well as having an idea of the type of information and documents you wish to uncover.

Don't forget other family members may also know information, either directly with stories, or help to suggest where and what best to research. As part of my family's research into our family's Great War history we found great-grandparents on either side of the trenches, much to the surprise of my children.

Find out more about In Soldiers Footsteps, or contact us if you are interested in a supported visit to Lodge Hill Cemetery.

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