I’m currently volunteering for the UK Armenians & WW1 project (my mum is Armenian) and attended one of the training sessions on 3 July about historical research and how to use various military archives. I was told that as it was the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Somme, ancestry.co.uk, a major UK genealogy website, was providing free searches for a week.
I decided to take advantage of the free offer of looking up records of those at the Somme as my grandfather was there. I found three documents and talked to my dad about them. It helped to shape the story that he has been telling me for years about my grandad’s story. He was apparently in the Horse Artillery and he had his own horse (i.e. not one that was pulling the big guns) and on his final day of battle he looked out for ‘the youngest spottiest German lad’ to aim for. He had a sword and the Germans had lances. He made the wrong choice as the young German struck him in the chest and my grandad fell. He was on the battlefield for days before he was found lying on the ground with a serious chest injury.
Amazingly he went on to do duty during the Second World War and got injured again so spent the rest of the war in the Home Guard. My dad was so pleased about the documents and how we both found out some extra little details about my grandad from these historic records.
While this was not about my Armenian side of the family, it was still a fascinating story to learn about my grandad from Bermondsey, London; it’s part of my identity and heritage.
Vanita Nicholls is a volunteer of the UK Armenians & WW1 project and Apprenticeship Programme Manager at Ealing Council