Group report

We are now attempting to get up to speed after the Covid hiatus.

Our first Group Meeting in January had a look at the 1921 Census which had just been released. Quite a few good tips came out of the meeting.

In the February meeting, I shared some family documents and letters which I had been given in October last year. They dated from around the end of WW1 into the 1920's. Many letters were from family, friends and Army colleagues to my Uncle Arthur who enlisted in early 1918. He was sent to Ireland at first, presumably to help deal with riots and general unrest caused by the many Irish men objecting to being called up to fight against the Germans and also by those seeking self rule. In November 1918, shortly after the end of war was declared, he was sent to France to deal with the demobilisation of troops and their return home. He was not demobilised until early 1920 and he returned back to England in March 1920.

The letters revealed aspects of the day to day lives of the various writers. Arthur's mother bemoaned the fact that the rationing in 1918 meant that she had to choose between making either a Christmas cake or a pudding. Several of the letters referred to people being ill with 'Flu, including my father. Clearly they were dealing with the so-called Spanish 'flu pandemic which resulted in the deaths of more people than the number killed due to the World War itself. Thankfully my father survived! Schools were closed. People isolated. They must have been frightened as there were no antibiotics or ant-viral drugs that could be used to treat the ‘flu.

Soldiers were encouraged to write letters to friends and family in Britain. Arthur received quite a lot of letters from former lady acquaintances. Many shared his interest in music - he was frequently involved in concerts of various sorts while in the Army. Many of the letters showed that they certainly knew how to enjoy themselves despite the circumstances.

One interesting letter to Arthur from his grandmother mentioned that she was going to vote in the General Election called immediately after the Armistice with Germany in November 1918. It was the first election in which women over the age of 30 could vote.

In April, we looked at a member’s Ancestry DNA results and we were able to come up with some promising leads from her DNA matches who appeared to share common ancestors.

Unfortunately, we have found it difficult to meet since, but hope to arrange a meeting before the summer recess.

We are now open to new members. We have been meeting on the 2nd Wednesday of each month but it is possible that might change in the future.

Ken Osborne

Go to the Family history 2 group page