Roll of Honour - Research Notes
The idea for this tribute to the fallen of Newton Ferrers came from a suggestion by the Royal British Legion. To mark the 60th anniversary of VE Day and VJ Day, it proposed that all communities with war memorials should compile a biographical record in memory of the names inscribed there. This is the result.
It may seem strange to describe such a work as a “living” record, but I am very conscious that there are many gaps in the biographical details. This is especially so for those killed in the Second World War – there is far more information available on those who died in The Great War. The book has therefore been prepared in loose leaf form so that it can be regularly updated as and when more details come to light.
If you can contribute anything in this respect please let me know. Contact details are shown below. I am especially keen to include any photographs of the soldiers and sailors concerned.
It may be helpful to describe the main avenues of research used to compile this book:
The starting point has to be the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, with its huge database and comprehensive search facilities. From just a name, initials and year of death you should be able to obtain full name, rank, number, unit, date of death and place of burial. Many entries also have details of parents and/or wives.
The National Census is taken every 10 years, but is not released to the public for 100 years. Thus the latest available is for 1901, and this can be viewed on line at Plymouth City Library – an excellent source for the First World War soldiers and sailors.
Locally, the Plymouth and West Devon Records Office at Clare Place, Coxside, has microfiche records of church baptism and marriage registers. The school has the register of attendance covering all the relevant years. A notice in the Parish Magazine can prompt those vital recollections from the older members of the community.
A visit to the National Archives at Kew is highly recommended. Records of sailors’ services from 1863 to 1923 have just been released in the ADM 188 series, and some have been included in this book. Records on soldiers are not easy to obtain. Many of them were lost in the London Blitz in 1940, and what remains (WO 363 series “The Burnt Records”) did not contain any names from Newton Ferrers or Noss Mayo. However, the CD-ROM “Soldiers Died in the Great War” is the only source which will give the important detail as to whether the soldier was Killed in Action or Died of Wounds. Regimental War Diaries (WO 95 series) were particularly useful for obtaining details of what was happening on the day the soldier was killed or wounded.
Regimental museums can be a useful source, but their research facilities are usually very limited. They will not hold records of individual soldiers, but will augment the details from War Diaries. The Keep Museum at Dorchester was particularly helpful for the Devon’s and Dorset’s.
Finally, there is the World Wide Web and Google! There is an enormous amount of information available out there, including many sites devoted to both wars. “The Long, Long Trail” at www.1914-1918.net has a lot of useful information about all aspects of the First World War.
BILL GRIFFIN - 12 November 2005
World War I * World War II * Research Notes