WW2 Civilian Deaths 1939 – 1945

The latest press release from Ancestry.co.uk…….

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Ahead of Remembrance Day, Ancestry.co.uk, the UK’s favourite family history website, has today launched online the UK, WWII Civilian Deaths, 1939-1945 collection, listing the thousands of British citizens killed on the ‘Home Front’ during the Second World War.

The records, originally compiled by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, list almost 60,000 members of the British Commonwealth and Empire who were killed as a result of enemy action whilst going about their everyday lives or while at their posts as members of the Civil Defence Services.

The majority of the names listed were civilians killed in the aerial bombings by the German Luftwaffe (air force) as it attempted to bring Britain to its knees. These attacks on British cities, which took place from September 1940 to May 1941 are known collectively as The Blitz and led to around 40,000 deaths.

Nearly half of those killed in The Blitz (17,500) were Londoners, but several other cities were also badly hit, with Liverpool next worst off in terms of civilian deaths (2,677) followed by Birmingham, Bristol, Hull, Plymouth, Coventry, Portsmouth, Belfast and Glasgow.

Among the 59,418 names listed in the records is James Isbister, considered the first civilian casualty of WWII on home soil. He was killed in March 1940, when German bombers attacking Scapa Flow Naval Base, Orkney, jettisoned their remaining bombs over civilian territory as they fled back to Germany.

Hundreds of British civilians lost their lives before this point, most commonly in sea disasters when civilian ships hit military mines during the early months of the war. As the war progressed deaths at sea became all the more common, with thousands lost, as Germany used submarines to sink merchant ships in an attempt to restrict supplies to Britain.

More than 2,300 Civil Defence Service members also gave their lives whilst on duty, including air raid wardens, home guard, and members of theWW2 Civilian Deaths 1939   1945<p><!   Google Ads Injected by Adsense Explosion 1.1.5   ><div class=adsxpls id=adsxpls2 style=padding:7px; display: block; margin left: auto; margin right: auto; text align: center;><!   AdSense Plugin Explosion num: 1   ><script type=text/javascript><!  

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One of the most notable names in the collection is actor and star of Gone With The Wind, Leslie Howard. He was killed in 1943 when the civilian airliner he was travelling in to Bristol was shot down. Historians have since suggested that the Luftwaffe may have attacked the non-military plane because German Intelligence believed Prime Minister Winston Churchill to be on board.

Before the war it was feared a sustained campaign of aerial bombings would lead to more than 600,000 deaths and as a result the 1937 Air Raid Precautions Act forced local councils to make provisions for defence. These varied from a widespread imposed blackout of all lighting from public and commercial buildings to the construction of bomb shelters and provision of gas masks.

The government also implemented widespread evacuation of major cities, with Operation Pied Piper responsible for the relocation of more than 3.5 million people – mainly urban children moved to safer homes in rural areas.

Several other famous names of the day can also be found within the digital records, including:

  • Albert Dolphin – Dolphin was working as an emergency hospital porter at what is today

  • New Cross Hospital London when a bomb hit the kitchens of the building. A true Home Front hero, Albert rushed to the aid of a nurse trapped in wreckage and protected her as a damaged wall gave way. He was killed saving her life and was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his bravery.
  • James Baldwin-Webb MP – Baldwin-Webb, MP for The Wrekin in Shropshire and one of the most famous civilians of the day, was lost at sea. In September 1940, whilst travelling to Canada to fundraise for the Ambulance Corps, his liner SS City of Benares was torpedoed by a German submarine. He stayed aboard the ship to assist women and children onto lifeboats before going down with the ship.
  • Arthur Bacon – Bacon was a popular footballer, playing as a striker at Reading, Chesterfield and Coventry City – scoring 71 goals between 1923 and 1935. After his footballing career he served as a Special Constable in Derby where he was killed in 1942 (aged 37) during an air raid.

Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “As we approach Remembrance Sunday, it’s important to not only remember those heroes who served and died in conflict but the thousands of ordinary people who lost their lives in Britain and the Commonwealth whilst battling to keep the country running at a very difficult time.

“This collection gives people the chance to find out about any Home Front heroes that might be in their family tree, and adds to the millions of military records available on Ancestry.co.uk from the past 100 years and more.”

Ancestry.co.uk is providing free access to 3.6 million military records between 8th and 12th November, including WWI Service Records 1914 – 1920, WWII Army Roll of Honour 1939 – 1945, Navy Medal and Roll Awards 1793 – 1972 and Victoria Cross Medals 1857 – 2007. To search for the war heroes in your family tree, visit www.ancestry.co.uk/start_military

London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes

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<script type=text/javascript src=http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show ads.js></script></div></p>Genealogists have been able to access historic gazettes for some years and very useful they have been in family history research. A recent press release from National Archives tells us that access to the gazettes has been improved and the website re-designed and re-launched.

The London Gazette is the oldest, continually published newspaper in the world. Although the three publications are know as the London Gazette, Edinburgh Gazette and the Belfast Gazette they contain details of individuals from all over the United Kingdom so a search is always worthwhile taking the time to do. A history of the gazette is available on the National Archives website.London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes<p><!   Google Ads Injected by Adsense Explosion 1.1.5   ><div class=adsxpls id=adsxpls3 style=padding:7px; display: block; margin left: auto; margin right: auto; text align: center;><!   AdSense Plugin Explosion num: 2   ><script type=text/javascript><!  

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A search for one of my family names “Pottinger” came up with 654 entries dating from 1742 – July 2013 a wide range of dates and information. The earliest entry concerns an ancestor of mine John Pottinger of Compton, Berkshire, it calls for creditors to register with the Court of Chancery and the latest entry is a listing of a business in Belfast owned by a Peter Pottinger who almost certainly is a descendant of the Pottinger family who left Berkshire and moved to Northern Ireland. All sorts of genealogy treasure will be hidden amongst the other 652 entries. A good, wet Sunday  afternoon, project to work through them all !

Links

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/

British Library Online Maps

British Library Online MapsDid you know about this, if you did why didn’t you tell me ?!!

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee on Hack Genealogy for pointing me to a blog post on History Tech I can now tell you about the maps from the British Library which are now online. They British Library Online Mapsare fascinating and so helpful for giving a sense of place for our ancestors. I remember years ago wonder why a certain set of ancestors went to a town some distance to find wives/husbands. There seemed to a few parishes which were a lot closer, but looking at a map showing the topography I found the reason – a range of hills which at that time didn’t have any roads over them. Very obvious when you look at a map!

So thanks Thomas & thanks Glenn.

http://www.bl.uk/maps/georeferencingmap.html

Ancestry Census Youtube Lesson

I just love YouTube which I think is an underused resource for genealogy. I found this ten minute video by Ancestry’s Brad Argent walking you through the census and how to find them online. Great help for beginners and it never hurts for more experienced researchers to refresh their memories on the basics. Beats watching soap operas when you want to sit down and watch tv for a short while!!

UK Census

http://www.ancestry.co.uk/

http://www.youtube.com

New Derbyshire Additions to FamilySearch

New Derbyshire Additions to FamilySearchFamilySearch have today added more data to their Derbyshire Parish registers index. Sadly there are no images available, but the indexing does have added information when it occurred in the registers such as father’s name in marriages and age in burials. The time period runs from 1538 to 1910 and at the present time consists of over 1.4 million entries.

New additions for elsewhere in the world include records for

  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Kentucky USA
  • West Virginia USA
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • Switzerland

https://familysearch.org/