Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Honouring My World War One Ancestors

We are approaching that time of year where we stop to remember those who served in The Great War 1914-1918; where we honour the memory of those who died, especially our own loved ones. Our great-grandfathers, our great-uncles, our cousins. The loved ones who went to war and were killed in the name of King and Country.

Sharpest in my mind are my ancestors, none of whom I knew but who have become much more real to me since researching my family history in earnest. My local Genealogical Society advised me to visit the CWGC website for further information regarding individual tributes to all war dead. This website holds details of my military ancestors, from both World Wars. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, established by Royal Charter in 1917, pays tribute to the thousands of men and women of the Commonwealth Forces who died in the two World Wars.

The British Royal Legion held its first official Royal Legion Poppy Day in 1921. Inspired by the now world famous John McCrae poem 'In Flanders' Field' the annual Poppy Appeal is still a key event today. Here in Australia we have an annual Poppy Appeal in April to commemorate our  nation's own 'Remembrance Day' known as ANZAC Day. As we are a Commonwealth nation we also honour Armistice Day with another Poppy Appeal and various war memorial services and a two-minute silence.

Every year, whenever I see the RSL (Returned & Services League of Australia) selling poppies in the shopping centres and around the streets of Perth, a lump always catches in my throat. I have the utmost respect for all those who have served, and those who serve today, for our country. For me personally I experience a double dose of extreme emotions each year, both in April and in November, as I honour my allegiance both countries (of which my heart proudly belongs).

James Jolly was born in 1880 in Bungay, the fourth child and second son of William Jolly and Emma Clarke. It is believed that he enlisted with the Norfolk Regiment at Ditchingham from an early age, and served with the 2nd Battalion, as Private, in the 1899-1902 Second Boer War campaign. When World War One broke out, James (affectionately known as 'Jumbo') served with the 1st Battalion as Acting Lance Corporal and was sent to France. Just two short months later, James Jolly was killed in the First Battle of Ypres, in November 1914. He is buried at the Menin Gate Memorial Cemetery. He was my Great-Granduncle. Lest We Forget.

James Jolly
William Waters was born in 1889 in Beccles, the third child and second son of William Waters and Emily Gunns. William worked as a Coachman in Beccles until war broke out and he enlisted on the 9th of September. According to his Service Record he was born in 1884 and he gave his occupation as 'Chauffeur'. He was listed as having served in the Territorial Force for 5 years. By the time he enlisted to serve with the 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment (at Norwich) in 1914 he was 7 years married to Elizabeth Poll, and they had five children, the fourth child being born in February 1914. William Waters was wounded in May 1917 and died 9 days later, at Huddersfield Hospital. He is buried in Beccles. He was my Great-Granduncle. Lest We Forget.

War Memorial at Beccles
Sidney Preston was born in 1889 in Holt, the sixth child and third son of Thomas Preston and Sarah England. After leaving Gresham's School in 1905, Sidney had a promising career in London as a Solicitor. Under the tutelage of his eldest brother Thomas, Sidney was sitting his Law examinations when war broke out and he felt a stronger urge to serve for his country, and enlisted with the Middlesex Regiment (but was later given a commission in the Essex Regiment). In 1916, whilst stationed at Aldershot with the Essex Regiment, Sidney married his sweetheart Mabel Gold in Kilburn, Middlesex. In November 1917 Sidney was sent to France and was killed in action in April 1918. He is buried at the Bienvillers Military Cemetery. He was my First Cousin 3 Times Removed. Lest We Forget.

Sidney Preston (1911)

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.


  1. What a wonderful tribute. I pray that we never forget. My hope is that those of us who are blessed to discover the lives of those that we weren't able to meet will pass the stories on to our children and families so that they will never forget either.

  2. Thank you Stephanie, your comments really mean a lot to me and you are so right, we are blessed and we will pass on our family stories because our family history makes us who we are. x