Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Royal Newfoundland Regiment at Gallipoli

As I mentioned in a previous post, 25 April 2015 marks the 100th Anniversary of the landing of Allied forces at Gallipoli, including forces from Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The only North American unit in the entire 8 month long campaign was the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (RNR) that landed later on 20 September 1915. However, today is not Memorial Day in the province.

Later in the war, the regiment was virtually wiped out on 1 Jul 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Since then July 1 has been Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador. Traditionally, remembrance ceremonies are held in the morning, and then the day gives way to celebrations for the nationwide holiday, Canada Day.
Britain entered World War I on 4 Aug 1914 and about 1000 men had enlisted for the Newfoundland Regiment by the end of September. They trained on the outskirts of St. John’s before shipping out for more training in England and Scotland where they became part of the 29th Division of the British Army. (Newfoundland was a British Dominion and not part of Canada at the time.)

The British and French wanted to get supplies to their allies in Russia. Overland routes were blocked and getting past the German north coast in the Baltic was problematic. The third route was to get supplies through to the Russian Black Sea ports via the Dardenelles Strait controlled by the Ottoman Empire, allies of the Germans. The Gallipoli Peninsula is at the Mediterranean end of the north side of the Dardanelles.
Conditions on the battlefield were awful with both water shortages and weather to challenge the Allies. There was trench warfare here as well as Europe. The RNR are renowned for capturing Caribou Hill, which the Turks were using to snipe at the allied forces. No military breakthrough occurred so it was decided to withdraw.

While not arriving at Gallipoli at the beginning of the campaign, the Newfoundland Regiment provided necessary cover on the last day as troops pulled out, 9 Jan 1916. Thirty men had been killed or mortally wounded. Ten more had died of disease. In one of the worst winters in decades, the soldiers really suffered. One hundred fifty were treated for frostbite and exposure.

After a short rest period, the regiment would be assigned duty in France and suffer an immense loss. In all, 6200 men served in the RNR with 1300 dead – a very high price.

Sources: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war/fact_sheets/gallipoli

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday: 2015 UK Military Anniversaries

The latest Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) ezine reminded me that there are three significant military anniversaries during the next ninety days! As genealogists we saw that last year’s commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War gave us new databases to search. I am thinking of soldiers wills and war diaries put online for the first time in 2014. We still have three years before these commemorations end, presumably on 11 November 1918.

FFHS tells us that the first two events happened in 1915, and the third will be the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, famous in history as well as language and song. You can subscribe to this free online magazine here.  This issue highlighted these events:
  1.        The Gallipoli Landings (April 1915)
  2.        The Sinking of the Lusitania ( 7 May 1915)
  3.        The Battle of Waterloo (18 Jun 1815)
The Gallipoli Landings

While all countries involved will recognize this centennial, it will be significant for Australians and New Zealanders as they join together to remember the Gallipoli campaign, which marks the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I. The battle involved more than 550,000 Allied troops on land and in ships off the coast of Turkey and lasted more than eight months. Troops first landed on April 25, known in Australia and New Zealand as ANZAC Day. This year there will be a Commonwealth and Ireland ceremony at the Helles Memorial in Turkey, the site of the largest ANZAC commemoration outside of Australia and New Zealand.

“In London, there will be three separate events taking place on the 25 April. For details please visit the Australian High Commission (UK)website.  Please visit the Australian Memorial website for details of ceremonies taking place, exhibitions and links to ‘The Anzac Collections Project’ where you can read stories of ordinary people caught up in the extraordinary events of the war. For details of ANZAC commemorations in New Zealand, please visit the New Zealand Government website which includes a useful and informative ‘Guide to Gallipoli’. “ (FFHS)

Note: The only North American unit in this battle was from Newfoundland, then a British dominion and not part of Canada. Information about the role of the Newfoundland Regiment can be found at www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war/fact_sheets/gallipoli

The Sinking of the Lusitania
“The sinking of RMS Lusitania occurred on 7 May 1915; an event regarded as having been a turning point of the First World War. The ship was torpedoed by the German U-boat U20 and is reported to have gone down in 18 minutes off the coast of Ireland. The sinking was a contributory factor to the American entry into World War One. Of the known 1,960 people on board, 768 survived and 1,192 perished in the disaster…The Lusitania Resource website contains much information on its history, Passenger & Crew Biographies, and Lusitania Facts..."  (FFHS)

To read some very poignant biographies, please visit www.rmslusitania.info.” This website seems to be the best on the subject. On the home page, the menu on the left lets you choose passenger list, crew list, survivors, victims, stowaways…plus a few more categories.

Note: A new book about the Lusitania is topping the non-fiction charts even though it has not been released, as I write this. It is Dark Wake by Erik Larsson, the very successful author of The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts.

The Battle of Waterloo
The phrase 'meet your Waterloo' has been with us since the fateful day in June 1815. In commemoration of the bicentenary of Waterloo, the 2015 issue of FFHSs ‘really useful information leaflet’ contains an article by military historian, Simon Fowler, which will assist you in researching those who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. Download the leaflet here www.ffhs.org.uk/rul-2015-03.pdf.