Another busy but productive day with lots of webby stuff. My Friday afternoon was brightened by a marvellous email from our museums service. I’d asked them if they could find out anything about my Great Uncle William who served with the Cameronians in WW1 and was killed somewhere around Arras on May 3rd, 1917. We’re planning a trip to France at Easter and I want to find out as much as I can before we go. A search on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website shows he is commemorated on one of the memorials in Arras but I had no idea where he was killed, the details of the battle or where he was likely to be buried.
Aside from some invaluable advice about other searches I can try on ancestry.co.uk and in The National Archives, there was loads of detail from our own archives in Low Parks Museum. Turns out William served with the Lanarkshire Yeomanry and transferred to the Cameronians. They have the memoirs of a Private Thomas Banks who transferred around the same time as William and his diary mentions him thus:
our company suffered some casualties by a shell landing in one of the trenches, Willie Currie from Hamilton being killed, others wounded, the rest of us had to keep on moving – casualties had to be left for the Red Cross (Field Ambulance) then to Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC)
The researcher, Lizzie, reckons that William was actually killed on April 30 but that it wasn’t officially recorded until May 3. There was another battle on May 3 that he could have died in but April 30th sounds likely. She has sent me extracts from the Battalion war diary and has offered to get them out of storage for me to have a look at.
The real gem is a photograph from Private Banks’ of William and on the back he has written:
Killed around Arras in Trenches beside me, 3/1st Lanarkshire Yeomanry, From William Currie Townhead Street Hamilton.
Looking at the photo is like looking at my grandfather George Jack Currie who was too young when William left for war to remember him – that’s why we so know little about him.
William was no hero, except to his family, and his story isn’t extraordinary it’s extra ordinary. Every family was touched by loss in WW1. I used to wonder why I had so many maiden aunts but it was because so many young men died that there weren’t enough left to go round. It must be one of the darkest periods in living memory, along with the Holocaust.
I will do as much research as I can and then I will take white roses to William’s memorial – it’s the least he deserves. And thank you Thomas Banks for being with him when he died and for keeping his memory alive in your memoirs.
On other news, just to bring us right up-to-date we got a phone bill in today. There were 21 calls to one mobile phone number in one day. We didn’t recognise the number. Turns out it was MiniMe phoning her boyfriend. She’ll be paying her Dad the £8 out of her allowance. She thought she was going to be grounded but I remember those phone calls when I was young – I was 16, mind you. What she’ll have to learn is how to spin out the monthly credit on her Blackberry contract instead of using it up in a fortnight, then she won’t have to use the house phone and we won’t know what she’s been up to. You see, at least Big Mum can keep table on her on the old technology!
Today I have learned:
- so much about William Currie I don’t know where to start
- I’m not to old to remember Love’s Young Dream
Smoked Haddock with Potatoes and Bacon
This recipe is unashamedly taken from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries Part II but it’s the first time I’ve made it so I haven’t had time to adapt it much for myself yet. Mind you it’s so tasty I might keep it just the way it is.
3 slices of smoked sweetcure bacon, trimmed and cut up into postage stamp sized bits
3 tbsp oil
2 large potatoes, skins on sliced into small, short chips
2 natural, smoked haddock fillets
500mls double cream
2 bay leaves
6 black peppercorns
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
Method: Heat the oil and fry the bacon. When it begins to change colour tip in the potatoes and fry for 15 minutes, moving round the pan to colour evenly.
Put the cream, haddock, bay leaves and peppercorns in a pan and simmer for 15 minutes.
When cooked, place the potatoes and bacon on a plate, remove the haddock and place it on top of the potatoes. Tip the parsley into the cream, heat through and serve over the haddock.