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Tracing our Families WW2 Legacy

The Kilted Ancestors prompt for November 2023 in line with the Annual Genealogy Challenges & Triumphs topic was in relation to World War 2.

Researching our families military history is sure to reveal stories of resilience, heroism & sacrifice. One period that left an indelible mark on families worldwide was World War 2!

The 1940s was defined by Global Conflict when countless Individuals stepped forward to defend their country. It would be hard to tell the stories of any relatives who served without learning more about the war itself, historical context helps us not only learn about the part that a particular person played in the larger scheme of things but it helps us tell their story in more detail & gives us a better idea of what they might have seen or experienced on a day-to-day basis.

The War Office -Second World War Official Collection - Public Domain Wikicommons

Check with family members to see what paperwork others might have, this may include service papers, photographs, badges, uniforms etc. Sadly, there are now very few World War 2 Veterans, but there are children of those veterans! Ask about to see what stories have been passed down.

More & more World War 2 records are now being digitised & made available, check to see what records are available both online & in Archives. Check Museums, Unit documents, newspaper Archives, war memorials until you have exhausted all avenues.

Now that you have all this information start to work through all the information & collate it into a chronological timeline of events. Once this is complete add in photographs of the person or of items they owned. Finally add in historical details about where they served, their unit etc.

Why not think about sharing this report with family so that they can learn more about your relative’s service?

As most of you will know one of my passions is Air Force Research (I run the Allied Air Force Research website). This passion came from my grandfather telling me stories of his brothers service with Bomber Command in World War 2. Further research revealed that there were actually five brothers who served during World War 2 & three in World War 1, one of whom was awarded the DFM & was classed as an Ace. Did they all join the Air Force after witnessing a relative flying an early flying machine? We will never know but it sure is in the blood!

Despite my grandfather only telling me snippets of his brothers Bomber Command Story, I have been able to piece together his complete service including training, each of the operations he took part in & his time spent in a prisoner of war camp, amongst other things…. I do wonder if perhaps I now know more than his family at the time.


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