Framlingham Photograph – what is the event?

Market Hill Framlingham

As many of you know from my previous articles, I am very interested in old postcards of Suffolk not only the pictures on the front, but also the information and addresses on the back that can be linked to family research.

Recently I was at an Antiques Fair and found this old postcard of Framlingham Market Hill, which shows celebrations and many people and soldiers gathered on the Hill and I am trying to work out what the event may have been.

There is nothing on the back of the card to give a date, but I was intrigued by the fact that most of the children are dressed in white – was this significant to the event?

Also with my interest in the names on the War Memorial in the town I wondered if it was something to do with the end of World War 1.

It is interesting to see all the people looking out of the windows of the Crown Hotel and also the windows above Barclays Bank.

If anyone has any information that may help to date the photograph and confirm the event I would be pleased to hear from you.

Simon Last

Charnwood Genealogy     

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3rd Westminster Rifles photograph has new home!

WW1 Photo

I have been asked how big the photograph of the 3rd Queens Westminster Rifles was and here is a photo to show the whole photo in its frame – it was delivered to a new permanent home at the Westminster Archives in London on Tuesday so that it can be viewed by many more people and possibly relatives of the soldiers featured in it.

Today I have received a lovely letter from the Westminster Archives thanking me for arranging the delivery of the donated photograph of the 3rd Westminster Rifles and they have also been able to discover some more information about it as follows:

“We did find some information about the 3rd battalion. They were a training battalion used to train recruits for the 1st and 2nd Battalions. Consequently the 3rd Battalion as a unit never served outside England so this picture was taken in England and not France. The photographers name was on the photo and gave an address as Sandwell in the Midlands. I imagine the picture was taken at the end of a training exercise.

A basic summary found online of the 3rd Battalion’s war is copied for you below. As the 3rd Battalion was renamed after 8 April 1916 and I know that the 2nd Battalion was acting as the reserve at the beginning of the war, I would date this photo to 1915.

The 3/16th County of London Battalion (Queen’s Westminster Rifles) (Territorial Force) was formed in Nov 1914 at Richmond Park and placed in billets for the winter. In Jan 1916 it was sent to Winchester. On 8 Apr 1916 it was retitled 16th Reserve Battalion. On 1 Sep 1916 the battalion was assigned to 2nd London Reserve Brigade. In Dec 1917 it moved to Wimbledon and the newly formed 3rd London Reserve Brigade (TF). The 16th Reserve Battalions remained at Wimbledon.”

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Coucy Le Chateau in World War 1

At a recent Antiques Fair I was looking through some old postcards and found this one of Coucy-le-Chateau, Framlingham’s twin town amongst them.

With the centenary commemorations of the start of World War this year I started wondering how Coucy-le-Chateau would have been affected by the war and decided to investigate further.

The postcard shows the Chateau de Coucy in the background and I was intrigued by the intricate tower and through my research discovered the following:

In World War I, the Germans bombed some churches and cathedrals as a matter of military policy, whilst the inevitable tides of conflict destroyed many others. Personal spite was even responsible as it turns out that the great tower of Coucy-le-Chateau was dynamited by retreating Germans in 1917.

The tower (donjon) of Coucy was one of the most remarkable monuments from the Middle Ages, home to the Coucy’s who protected Paris from invasion from the north. The tower was 210 feet high, 100 feet in diameter and the walls were 34 feet thick. The Germans used 30 tons of explosives in the tower, plus another ten tons in each of the four towers of the chateau. Each of the three gates was mined with a smaller charge. The explosion was detonated on 27th March 1917. At the same time, the adjacent village of Coucy was bombarded by artillery and transformed into ruins.

The U.S. Ambassador to France, William Sharp, upon witnessing the devastation in the wake of the retreat of German forces to the Hindenburg Line in the Spring of 1917, said, “After traversing a distance of more than one hundred miles in this invaded territory, I left with the conviction that history records no parallel in the thoroughness of destruction wrought either by a victorious or a vanquished army.”

Years of history destroyed in a matter of minutes by the ravages of war.


Coucy Le Chateau postcard

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Searching for the MOSES Family from Reigate Surrey in WW1!

Searching for the MOSES Family from Reigate Surrey in WW1!

In some old postcards that I bought at a car boot sale a while ago I have just found two addressed to Mrs Moses and Miss A Moses sent from France during WW1.

They are both sent to the same address at 3 Blackboro Road in Reigate in Surrey and mention the names Alfred and Aileen, so using my detective skills and being such an unusual surname I have looked for any matching names in online family trees.

I have found two trees (one in the UK and one in Australia) with a matching Alfred MOSES and Aileen MOSES and have sent them both a message about the postcards and asking if they would like them for their family records?

I hope they are interested because I would love it if someone contacted me about something they had found and that showed a relatives writing especially during WW1 – I will keep you updated!

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Researching a War Memorial and writing a book

Many thanks to Helen at Family Tree magazine who has a written a blog on their website today called ‘Researching a War Memorial and writing a book’ based on my experiences!

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Millions of New Devon Baptism, Marriage and Burial Records Published Online

Millionsof New Devon Baptism, Marriage and Burial Records Published Online


Leading UK family history website has today, 30th May 2014, published online for the first time parish records in partnership with Devon Heritage Services, as the latest instalment of their 100in100 promise to launch 100 record sets in 100 days.

Spanning 1538 to 1915, the Devon Collection is a rich source comprising over 4 million fully searchable transcripts and scanned colour images of the handwritten parish registers held by the record offices in Barnstaple and Exeter. With Plymouth and West Devon Record Office’s records already available on findmypast, these new additions mean that findmypast’s Devon Collection is the best possible place to find Devonshire ancestors.

The baptism, marriage and burial records of many notable Devonians are stored within the collection. The baptism of literary icon Samuel Taylor Coleridge, author of ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ and founder of the Romantic Movement, can be viewed in records from the parish of Ottery St Mary. Bad boy satirist John Gay, member of the Scriblerus club and author of ‘The Beggars Opera’, was born in Barnstaple in 1685 and records of his baptism in 1686 can be found from the Parish of Black Torrington. Crime writer Agatha Christie’s baptism record appears in the parish register of Tormohun in 1890 under her maiden name Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller. Legendary explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who was famous for completing the Hajj to Mecca disguised as a pilgrim, translating the Karma Sutra into English and becoming the first European to visit the great lakes of Africa amongst other exploits, was born in Torquay in 1821 and is recorded in the collection.

The records also include the polymath Charles Babbage, who is widely considered to be the father of the computer. Records of his 1814 marriage were kept by the parish of East Teignmouth. Sir John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and ancestor of Winston Churchill was born in the parish of Musbury at the height of the Civil War. He was a legendary soldier who revolutionised the British army in the late 17th century and was, for a time, one of the richest men in England. Details of his baptism can also be viewed in the archives. VC winner and hero of the Zulu wars, Sir Redvers Henry Buller, is yet another famous military man from the county. Sir Redvers was widely celebrated before his disastrous leadership during the Second Boer War saw him sacked by the Minister for War, St. John Brodrick. He was born in Crediton in 1839 and died there in 1908, with both events being recorded by the parish.

Devon is one of the largest counties and therefore highly significant for family historians. As Maureen Selley, Chairman of Devon Family History Society, whose records are also available on findmypast, put it; “We all have Devonshire ancestors, it’s just that some of us haven’t found them yet.” Findmypast’s existing Devon records are already the most popular parish record set on the website.

The records are also of international significance as many historic Devonians emigrated to Canada, the US and Australia to work in the booming mining, fishing and agricultural industries. Devon’s position on the west coast meant that it was often used as a jumping off point for those headed to the United Sates. The Mayflower, the ship that carried the first pilgrims across the Atlantic, departed from Plymouth and the Devon Collection houses records that predate this famous voyage. These new records will help people from all over the world to trace their ancestral roots back to the county.

The Devon Collection adds to findmypast’s already extensive cache of parish records, the largest available online. These records allow family historians to go as far back as the 1500s, and with more parish records still to come as part of the 100in100 promise, family historians can now explore their more distant roots more easily than ever before.

You can view these exciting new records here:

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World War 1 Frontline Challenge

World War 1 Frontline Challenge

Following on from my research into the Framlingham World War names in 2011 I felt that I gained a greater knowledge and understanding of what these men and their families went through between 1914 and 1918.

To mark the centenary year I have been looking for a unique personal challenge that will commemorate this 100th anniversary and I have recently signed up to the WW1 Frontline walk in France and Belgium between 15th and 19th October 2014.

Exclusively organized on behalf of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, I will be walking representing the Suffolk Regiment one of the 220 regiments that existed at the outbreak of World War 1 and I will be walking 75 miles over three days.

My challenge will begin near Albert in Northern France and beginning in the Somme I will trek north through the symbolic poppy fields along the route, stopping at the many World War 1 memorial sites that I will see on the way.

Over 8.5 million people across the world died in the First World War, which is an incredible figure, and sometimes difficult to comprehend. Only by seeing the memorials do you really grasp the sheer scope of this war, as the sites commemorate not only French, English and German soldiers, but also the many nations from the Commonwealth, Russia, the US and the rest of Europe who fought alongside each other.

I will pass through many famous battle sites such as Thiepval, Vimy, the German Cemetery at Neuiville Saint Vaast and Notre-Dame de Lorette, which is the largest French Memorial.
The challenge will end with a moving visit to Ypres in Belgium and the ceremony of the last-post at the Menin Gate on Saturday 18 October 2014, exactly 100 years on from the start of the Battle of Ypres.

I have committed myself to raising £1,600 for the charity and more information can be found at

Thank you for your support.

Simon Last

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