Today findmypast released as part of their 100in100 campaign to release 100 record sets in 100 days the largest and most comprehensive collection of British World War 1 service records online, giving family historians a greater chance than ever before of finding their World War 1 ancestors. The newly re-indexed records contain details of millions of the men who fought for their country in one of the largest conflicts in history. As well as a more thorough transcription process which involved an individual examination of over 35 million pages of documentation, findmypast has also identified and indexed lists of names that were tucked away in individual service papers.
The record sets (WO363 and WO64, also colloquially known as the “burnt records”) are all that remain of records caught up in a fire caused by a German incendiary bomb during World War. As only around 40% of the original records survive, the addition of these 600,000 new names taken from extra lists and pages previously not indexed are a real boon to family historians with British military ancestors, as well as to military historians in general.
The records can be searched at http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-world-Records/british-army-service-records-1914-1920 and are available on all international findmypast sites as part of a world subscription.
One of my favourite and most enigmatic characters in my family history is Alfred Mansel Young. I’ve previously posted about him, but just the bare facts. He’s my brick wall.
Why was he an enigma?
Because he left his family in Portsmouth and went to live in South Wales with a branch of his family.
A couple of years ago we went to South Wales for a long weekend and managed to go and visit some of the addresses my relatives had lived. I’m not sure why but I really like doing this and I think it adds another dimension to your knowledge, getting a feel for the places they lived in and the streets they must have walked.
I wonder why he left his family and moved away? His life was so short yet he had moved from Portsmouth to Bridgend and then enlisted and been killed, all by the time he was 21.
He enlisted with the South Wales Borderers in Bridgend and his name is on the Bridgend War Memorial so he must have been living their permanently. Perhaps there were no jobs for him in Portsmouth, he’d fallen out with his family or was sent away after his mother died when he was young?
When we were in Bridgend I checked all the local papers at the local Record Office for mentions of his death but I couldn’t find any.
We visited the street mentioned in the 1911 census but only half of the street survived, the wrong half, of course!
After his death his medals must have been sent to his father as they were eventually passed down to me along with a couple of his army photographs, his cap badge and a name badge.
His First World War Army records were destroyed so this is the only information I have about him. I suppose a lot of people must have people like this in their family whose lives were cut short by war. I just find it so frustrating that I can’t find any information about him.
1895 born Southsea
1901 Census living at 2 Woodland Cott, Woodland St, Portsmouth
age 5, born Southsea, Hants
1911 census, occupation: Assistant Bottling Stores, Brewery living 9 Graig, Newcastle Hill, Bridgend
Enlisted in Bridgend, Glamorganshire in late 1914
Served with the 5th Battalion of the South Wales Borderers (local regiment to the Bridgend area).
Killed in Action, France and Flanders (the official battlefield designation) 24 July 1916
Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France
Not mentioned in the War Diary or the Regimental History
Name is in the Book of Honour at Llandaff Cathedral, Wales.
Name is on the Bridgend War Memorial
Soldiers Effects Records:
No Probate Record
George Benger was born in 1838 in Portsmouth. Early details about his life come from census returns:
1841 Census Nobbs Lane, Portsmouth (age 2)
1851 Census, Mill Lane, Forton, Alverstoke (age 11) scholar
1861 Census – not found
1871 Census – not found
According to Army records he was on the Duke of Wellington between 1 January 1873 until 13 October 1873, then HMS Active On the Gold Coast from 14th November 1873 to the 5 March 1874. He was awarded a medal for his role in The Anglo-Ashanti Wars.
1881 Census, age 42, Retailer of Ale Beer and Porter, living at The Willow Tree, Alverstoke, Hampshire
1891 Census, age 52, Beer Retailer, the Willow Tree, Beer House
Probate record: George Benger of the ‘Willow Tree’ beerhouse Forton-Road Gosport, Alverstoke, Hants, beerhouse keeper died 15 February 1896. Probate London 2 April to Caroline Benger widow and James Smith Contractor; sagent. Effects £42 15s 3d.