Saturday, 30 June 2012

Armed Forces Day 2012

Today is UK Armed Forces Day 2012, when we celebrate Britain's armed forces past and present. Fortunately my son-in-law is safely at home this year (well probably on the golf course) not having to contend with Libyan rockets or dishonest politicians as in previous years so I have turned my thoughts to the past.

I recently did some genealogy research of the Blease line, managing to get back ten generations I did discover that whilst most of my family had been shipwrights in the Merchant Navy some relatives had joined the army.

Two cousins of my Grandfather (born 1905) served in the Great War, George Blease (born in 1893) and Charles Blease (born in 1897).

George volunteered for service, joining The King's (Liverpool) Regiment in September 1916. Unfortunately he had never been a well individual suffering regular bouts of illness in his civilian job as a clerk. Initially he served as a clerk for the Regiment assisting in recruitment before transferring to the Labour Corps in April 1917, initially the 551st Company, then the 555th. Neither saw service outside the UK but reading George's medical history, that eventually led to him being discharged from military service in September 1918, I could not help be proud that despite being physically unfit he tried to do his bit.

His younger brother, Charles, also joined the The King's (Liverpool) Regiment, serving in the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion that served in France from 1915. Like many soldiers who served in the Great War, Charles' service records appear to have been destroyed by German bombing in WW2 and the only surviving record of his service is his gravestone in the Villers-Guislain Communal Cemetery. However from this I was able to find his service number and unit details, and from that was able to track down a copy of the 4th Battalion's War Diary.

The diary is fascinating reading but extremely sobering, especially when I came to the entry for 21st September 1918; "Fine - Battalion sends forward fighting patrols to assist attack made by (unclear)  -Casualties, 1 killed, 6 wounded 4 missing - 3 ors leave to UK." That one killed was Charles Blease.

Unfortunately I did not have this information when I was in France last year, which is a shame as the grave is only a few miles from Albert which Saul and I visited, but when we return to France we plan to make a visit.

Whether there are any other relatives that served in the World Wars (outside the Merchant Navy), I have yet to ascertain. My Grandfather was one of twelve children and his cousins had several brothers and sisters themselves so it seems likely. Unfortunately there are big gaps in the online records, (especially birth, marriage and death records) so some family lines just peter out and odd names cannot be confirmed as to being relatives...

An example of this is Corporal Albert Blease who served with the King's Regiment in Burma being killed in action in January 1944. Albert is a very common name in the Blease line but I cannot trace his birth or baptism records, so despite being of the correct age to have been a son of one of my Grandfather's brothers or his cousins we will probably never know.

Regardless I think it is appropriate to remember his service today, as well as that of Charles and George and any other family members who did their bit to preserve our nation's freedom.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, in regards of your prize of Wargames Factory I had won $140 in the last competition and asked the lads to mark it as a gift (as it was actually a gift for participating and winning) No custom duties for me. Very happy wargamer!

    Best regards and great post about your family history which I could find an easy way to retrace my family history.