Alnwick Family History, May meeting

The May meeting of the Family History Society was an opportunity for members to share with others about a family member in the Forces.

The stories were varied and ranged from the experience of being in the militia during the 1790s based in Alnwick, through the Great War, and Second World War.

Members had brought along photographs, medals, letters, army records and artefacts to illustrate their stories.

Of special local interest was the research carried out by one member into a relative, who, back in 1797, had married a soldier in St Michael’s Church.

The East Middlesex Militia men had been based here between 1796 and 1797, and a number of marriages had taken place along with marriages to soldiers in other regiments.

St Michael’s parish fund had to support these wives and children when their husbands were away fighting abroad. What will be of interest is that many people living in Alnwick will be able to trace their families back to these soldiers who settled here.

In the Second World War, when the Gordan Highlanders were stationed here during 1942 and 1943, many also married local Alnwick girls.

Other stories were of sailors whose ships sank while serving on board Victorian ships of the Royal Navy in the Bahamas and nearer home in the Second World War.

Pictures from soldiers of the Boer War and First World War illustrated the vital part played by men and their horses in conflict.

One soldier in the First World War had been given a white horse named Polly to ride, which proved to be a little too obvious on the front line.

The history of the RAF in the Second World War was touched upon and examples of a member’s relative service record showed how difficult the abbreviations used were to interpret.

The highlight of the evening was a chance to hold a Military Cross awarded to a member’s relative.

He, like so many of their generation during the First World War, had been reluctant to speak about the part he had played or talk about his experiences.

Hopefully, many of the letters and artefacts will be accepted and find a permanent home in the Imperial War Museum, London.

Many of the artefacts brought along to the meeting had only come to light after the death of a relative to whom they belonged.

One of the most rewarding parts of researching family history is to have this chance to share stories and gain knowledge in how to take your research further.

Alnwick Family History Society is always welcoming new members or enquiries and we can be contacted via the Bailiffgate Museum web page under Family History Society.

Our next meeting is Tuesday, June 2, at 7 30pm at the Bailiffgate, where our speaker is Anthea Laing on Death, Diseases and Dastardly Deeds.”