Not wanting to get stuck in a rut and coast into middle age, I decided to try at least fifty new things in 12 months – it was such good fun that I am going to keep going and say Yes to more new experiences !

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

26. DNA Testing!

No - not for paternity reasons, I won' be appearing on the Jeremy Kyle show!
my Great-great Grandad's grave

I took the Ancestry DNA test because I was curious about my ethnic roots. Through my genealogy searching, I have discovered that I am mainly good old Suffolk Stock with my 13x grandparents coming from Wingfield near Eye (only about 20 miles from where I sit now). There are a few ancestors coming from London and Kent but nothing much further afield! 

So I was quite surprised when the results came back as

  •  57% Great Britain
  •  27% Europe West
  •  5% Italy/Greece
  •  5 Other regions
The other regions were Ireland 5% Scandinavia 2% East European 1% - so it looks like I am a bit more cosmopolitan than I thought. I certainly need to investigate some of the dead-ends of the family tree to discover where the link with France, Germany or the Netherlands comes in.
My great aunts and uncles from the Jolley Family

It also came up with 10 other people in the database who are likely to be my 4th Cousins  ie  we share the same great, great, great grandparents!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

25. Visiting Battlefields of the Great War

Mum and I really enjoyed our tour of the French and Belgium battlefields last weekend. Driven around by Galloway Travel, we were lucky enough to have the fabulous Mike Peters as a guide to explain what happened, when, how and more importantly why!

Staying in Ypres, the 4 day tour took us to many sites. My favourite spot was Delville Wood, where thousands of South Africans died trying to get the wood from the Germans. The South African Centre is very impressive and a contrast to the surrounding beautiful bluebell woods.
Other highlights of the tour were the spot where the first gas attack took place 100 years ago, the huge Tyne Cott Cemetery, the first place where tanks rolled into battle, going deep into the mines under Arras and the stunning memorial at Vimy Ridge

We also visited many graves and memorials and heard stories of brave men winning Victoria Crosses, the only female killed in battle, footballers and fighting aces - and even the last resting place of  Chief Sitting Bulls grandson - Standing Buffalo. Mike was really a mine of interesting facts with an encyclopedic knowledge of World War One and the Battle of the Somme.

I would highly recommend anyone to go on a similar tour by Galloway Travel - the accommodation, food and attention to detail could not be faulted!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

24. Discovering the grave and memorials of my WW1 Ancestors

Mum and I went to find the graves and memorials of my relatives who died in the First World War

This is the grave of Walter Samuel Hollingsworth, my great, great uncle. He was a Lance Serjeant 43144 (formerly 998) in the 7th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.
He was killed in action in France & Flanders on 12 October 1916. He is buried in the Grevilliers British Cemetery, near Arras, France. He was one of 3 brothers who died in the Great War

Me with the memorial to Charles James Hollingsworth, Private 26822 11th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.He was killed in action in France & Flanders on 19 April 1918. (The CWGC Register says between 9th and 19th April). He has no known grave, but is commemorated with honour on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium ( near Ypres). Pte Hollingsworth was born in Claydon and enlisted in Bury St Edmunds.

His name is also on the headstone of his wife in Bredfield cemetry.

The third brother was Frederick John Hollingsworth Private 43879 (formerly 4578) 11th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. He was killed in action in France & Flanders on 19 April 1918, the same time as his brother Charles. He is buried in the Suffolk Cemetery, La Rolanderie Farm, Erquinghem-lys France (near border with Belgium).  Pte Hollingsworth was born in Claydon and enlisted in Woodbridge.

We have no photos of these brothers but we do have a set of wooden bricks which they owned and which have been played with by all of the family since!

On my fathers side of the family we found the name of Arthur W Whiting, 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment , who died 15th July 1916 at The Somme, no body found, but commemorated at Thiepval (near Arras)

We also found the name of a distant relative James Jolly Norfolk Regiment Lance corporal (3rd cousin 2 x removed) on the Menin Gate at Ypres

Monday, 20 April 2015

23. Last Post at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

Every night at 8pm precisely the last post is sounded in Ypres to remember the dead of the Great War. It has happened every night since 1927 - the only exception was during the German occupation of the town in WWII. Traffic is stopped and silence falls on the crowds.

It is a moving ceremony where anyone can participate and lay a wreath or tribute to those who died. The names of nearly 55,000 men who died before August 1917 and whose resting place is unknown are inscribed in the memorial. I attended on Sunday 19th April 2015.

Further details are on the Last Post website