BY LORETTA HOUBEN
Genealogy is one of my hobbies that has evolved into a passion over the past few years. I thought I had learned everything about research online, but recently I discovered something quite exciting that I’d like to share.
My great uncle William Joseph Williams died in World War I in Salonika, Greece, at age 24. Through the internet I was able to acquire a copy of his date of death, his Royal Welsh Fusilier badge number, the date he enlisted and went to France, and even a photo of his grave in Greece in the Karasouli Military Cemetery. I also tracked down his death notice in a Welsh newspaper, which was no mean feat!
I’d wondered for some time if his name had been included on a memorial in his hometown of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales. My husband and I visited the town in May 2017 and checked out the only WWI memorial there but were met with disappointment. I nearly gave up in defeat, but a true genealogy detective is like a dog with a bone; you just can’t let go.
I enjoy a subscription to Family Tree UK Magazine in digital format. While checking out the latest edition a few months ago, I noticed that hovering my computer mouse over the links included in the articles and clicking would take me to the websites listed. I began poking around and I discovered a list of WWI memorials in Wales.
One thing led to another, and I double checked other things using Google and found photos of a WWI list of soldiers from Blaenau Ffestiniog in the local hospital. My great uncle’s name is on it! I nearly fell off my chair with this discovery.
According to the website, three large wooden boards were placed in the hospital’s main corridor at the Blaenau Memorial Hospital on Wynne Road. I checked it out on Google maps and it’s located very close to where we stayed when we visited last year. If only we had known then, we might have been able to see the memorial in person.
However, the hospital is now closed permanently so I don’t know what will become of the memorial. My next mission is to somehow contact the hospital and make inquiries.
Don’t give up if you have a mystery in your family research. Remember that online technology has improved by leaps and bounds, and there are many helpful experts to assist you in your hunt, along with amazing tools.
Loretta Houben enjoys genealogy full time and subscribes to the Ancestry website. However, she often finds many clues for her family research by diligently using Google search and Google maps.
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