50 Lives of the First World War

The book to accompany the WW1 Lives research project is now available from Beverley Treasure House, priced at £4.50. I received a copy the other night at the volunteers Christmas get together.

Three of the lives I researched are in there, albeit edited to fit. We were all of us, the volunteers, asked to name our favourite three, which was difficult as we’ve done almost a thousand lives between us and, by the time we’ve finished, there will be well over that many.

My first pick was William Hirst Briggs, the son of one of the founders of Briggs & Powell, one of Beverley’s oldest businesses. In researching him I also found out quite a bit about the business and Brigg’s father and grandfather. There were a few skeletons in that particular closet.

My second favourite was the Oldfield Family, a father and five sons who all served. Between them they gave me quite a few weeks of work. Only Arthur is in the book (all six was probably too much to ask for). He was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal. When a nearby platoon was pinned down by enemy fire because their machine gun was broken he went to get them another. He came back with two German machine guns and ammunition.

Lastly I chose my only civilian, Mr William Stainton who went down with the Lusitania. Much of the information I found on Stainton seemed to suggest that he was buried in a mass grave in Ireland, along with many others, but I found a snippet in the newspaper that reported his body being returned to Beverley and, after a little hunting around, I found him buried in Etton next to his grandparents.

The three I chose seemed to have been heavily edited, though I do tend to put as much as I can into the write ups. There is much more information in the individual research folders for all of them, as I suspect there will be for all the others. I suppose, after all, you can only fit so much on a page.

Thankfully some of the research has been entered into the Beverley Treasure House online system and can be searched using the finding number WL. At the moment it looks as though they are adding them alphabetically and seem to have got to F, but I’m sure the rest will be there eventually. All of the research can be viewed in the archives and the full biographies of the ones I did can be seen following the link in the main menu.

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