We're halfway through Family History Month here in the U.S. and we were able to help you answer some great questions last week! We're back at it again for week #2, this time with Paul Nixon, a leading expert in British Military History. Earlier this week, you sent us genealogy-related military history questions, and Paul has some great responses for you.
Here are the highlights:
John Reid asks… My grandfather was in the Reserve 4th Welsh at Carmarthen, a bandsman, working in the Welsh mines on marriage in April 1915. Could he have been awarded his British War Medal without serving outside Britain? No service file found. Any other sources worth searching for his military service?
Paul: No. To have been awarded a campaign medal he must have served overseas in some capacity. He could have been awarded the single British War Medal if, for instance he served outside a war zone like India. If he served in a war zone he would have been awarded at least two medals: the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. If he definitely has one medal, first try and find his medal index card details in the World War One British Army Medal Index Card database.
Max asks… My American grandfather anecdotally spent some time as a G.I. in Britain in the very early years of World War II… I have found some American records of his service, but are there any British archives that might have information about his activities over there? Thanks in advance!
Paul: Not as far as I know but do bear in mind that all British service records from WW2 are still with the MoD. It is possible that details of other Allied service personnel also survive somewhere but if they do I am yet to hear of them.
Jenna asks… My family immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in the 1890's, but I know that they had some family that remained there… Is there any way for me to research and see if or in what way they participated in the struggle for Irish independence? Were there many records kept by either side that could identify Irish combatants?
Paul: Keep an eye on Findmypast as we head into 2016!
Jenna's question gives us a chance to (briefly) delve into the fascinating historical context surrounding Irish independence. The Gaelic Revival and movements for Irish nationalism of the late 19th century gave rise to more concerted efforts made by the Irish to separate themselves from Britain after the turn of the century. From 1919 to 1921, Ireland waged a violent guerilla struggle for their freedom, which was eventually solidified after a ceasefire agreement in 1921. Over 2,000 people lost their lives in the violence, and 75% of casualties came from either Munster, Dublin or Belfast.
Over 2,000 people lost their lives in the violence, and 75% of casualties came from either Munster, Dublin or Belfast
Did you have relatives from these counties, or in greater Ireland during this time period? Search our 1911 Ireland Census to see where they were living, and make sure to check out our Sinn Féin Rebellion Handbook, published in 1917 by the Irish Times. This handbook is a detailed collection of documents, newspaper articles, photographs and personnel details related to the violence preceding the Irish War of Independence. And of course, as Paul said — keep an eye out for more in 2016!
We would like to thank Paul Nixon for taking the time to answer our users' military history questions. This concludes week #2 of our "Ask the Experts" series. Keep an eye out for Joshua Taylor next week!