On retirement or throttling-back on work, many 60lifers look to spend more time on lifelong interests, or in pursuing new hobbies, like family history, visiting churches,or perhaps a more unusual hobby of visiting a ‘ collection ’ of many cemeteries and curiosities.The latter pastime is often in the cause of providing voluntary help necessary for the preservation and protection of gravestones; the study of people buried in a particular place;tombstone photography;tombstone rubbing and gravestone design, often used as an inspiration by artists,or it may just constitute a good day out in the fresh air walking.
Much has been said lately about the scourge of dementia in all its forms.And now,just a few days ago,Sir Terry Pratchett,author of the fantasy book series Discworld, and recently often considered a public face of dementia, passed away. He had been diagnosed in 2007 with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Today, throughout the UK and in many countries overseas, the start of the First World War is being commemorated.One hundred years ago, the deadliest of conflicts began.In many villages and towns, the sacrifice of families and loved ones made during a period of four years of war will be remembered at special services and ceremonies held in the UK and Belgium.In Glasgow, heads and representatives of Commonwealth countries, many of whom were last night celebrating the close of the successful Commonwealth Games, will attend a commemoration service in the City’s cathedral.
One such area that has been holding events leading upto today is North Devon. Over the weekend memorial services and exhibitions were held in Bideford,Berrynabor,Barnstaple and West Down. A flypast of Sea King aircraft and a wreath laying ceremony was arranged at Barnstaple.The annual flower show in West Down was WWI themed,and today in the hall at St Calixtus Church a special exhibition will be open from 10.a.m. and later, an open air service will be held in the church hall grounds, ahead of 11 p.m. and the marking of the time of the announcement of war a century ago.
Yesterday, representatives of nearly 20 countries met to commemorate the 70th anniversary the D-Day landings, at one of the five sites in Normandy, Sword beach in Northern France, used by allied forces on 6th June 1944. The operation which began the liberation of France was conducted by the largest seaborne force ever assembled. Above is a tranquil picture of one of the military cemeteries where the graves of fallen soldiers are lovingly kept.
For information on the invaluable work done by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission you can go to its official website.There is current news about cemeteries in its care, and also a search facility on the site if you are looking to find the cemetery where a soldier may be buried.
For many reading this, Remembrance Day 11 November 2012 provides a time to pause for reflection and an ‘opportunity to honour those who gave their lives in the First World War. It is now a time to also to remember those who have died and suffered in more modern times – The National Archives newsletter’. The first Remembrance Day was held in 1919.
Recently, I decided to research some of my own family history. As it happens, I started to trace the details of my two military ancestors, two grandfathers who served in the British Army in the First World War. This interesting work turned up some fascinating insights into the lives of these two people who were never known to me.
Perhaps, you are interested also in finding out about a family member who served in the armed forces. The National Archives (TNA)in London holds collections comprising millions of documents, capturing more than a 1,000 years of British History, and including military service records. Many of these are available to view online as well as during a personal visit to TNA. Just some of the research material you can expect to find include:
medals and honours – The First World War medal index is a valuable resource for tracing an individual military ancestor
First World War nurses’ services records
First World War service and pension records
Staff at TNA are producing a series of blogs, the first of which is at My Tommy’s War, which you can follow and learn how you can use their records to research your own ancestors. For those who love history,and want to find out more this is a must.
According to the Daily Mail , Grandparents are to be given legal rights of access to their grandchildren after a family breakdown or divorce:
‘A report will today set out radical proposals to enshrine in law greater rights for grandparents to stay in contact when couples split, Whitehall sources revealed.’ The Daily Mail article continues:
‘The review of the family justice system will also mean couples being pushed into mediation to sort out contact arrangements rather than resorting to the courts.’