MORE people than ever are trying to trace their ancestry to find out where they came from.
Sadly, many do not know where to start and some don’t even know the names of their grandparents.
They look through old family photographs and see faces they don’t recognise, and because there are no names written on the back they don’t know who they are.
Instinctively, however, they know these people must be part of their family and so they ponder for hours as to who they may be.
Sometimes they turn to me for help and then I turn to readers for help or direct them to others who may be able to advise them.
Recently Margaret Wood, whose two great uncles, Tom and William Chatwood, were killed in World War I, wrote asking for help.
She is trying to trace her family tree but finding it almost impossible because she doesn’t have a computer and therefore cannot access ancestry websites.
All she knows is that her maternal grandmother, Mary Ann Chatwood, was sister to the two heroes, and that they lived on The Flatts in Dewsbury.
Margaret doesn’t even know whether Tom and William ever married or had children, or where they worked or which school they went to.
“All I have is a photograph of them with their parents – my great grandparents – and their three other brothers, Frank, Herbert and Alan, and my grandma, Mary Ann,” said Margaret.
“I don’t even know when Tom and William were born or when they were killed, or where they are buried.
“I don’t know very much either about my father’s side of the family, the Gledhills, and I would be grateful for any help I can get in trying to trace them.
“It isn’t easy doing a family tree when you have so little to go on, but I am determined to keep trying.”
Margaret’s great grandfather was James Auty Chatwood, and the family lived near the boiler works in Vulcan Road.
If you can help Margaret, please ring her on 01924 520025.
ALTHOUGH Margaret doesn’t have access to a computer, Peter Bennett, a local war historian, does. He has managed to trace some details of the war records of Tom and William, and has even visited the grave of William at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium and laid a poppy wreath there as a mark of respect.
William, who served in the Middlesex Regiment was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele on November 25 1917.
His brother Tom was killed in the Battle of Arras and has no known grave, but his name is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.
Tom, who served in the Yorkshire Regiment, died on May 12 1917, aged 20.
PETER Bennett may have been successful in tracing details about Tom and William Chatwood, but details of another local hero, John Farlington, has alluded him.
He now hopes Reporter readers may be able to help him solve the mystery and prove that John Farlington did actually exist.
He knows that a John Farlington was killed in World War I, and his name is on both the Crow Nest Park War Memorial and the Memorial in St Paulinus Church which lists all the names of parishioners killed in the war.
It lists on this memorial that John Farlington died on November 7 1914.
His name is also on the Crow Nest Park War Memorial and also in a book at Dewsbury Library listing all the names of those on the memorial.
But despite strong evidence that John Farlington lived and died, Peter can find no record of him in the St Paulinus Church births and marriages archives.
“No person of this name is recorded there and his name isn’t recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as having died in World War I,” said Peter.
“Furthermore, there are no records of anyone even serving in the British Army, Navy or Merchant Navy with this name.
“I have checked the UK census records of 1901 and 1911 and Medal Index Roll Cards at the National Archives and this name does not appear anywhere.
“I know that many men enlisted and served under an assumed name, but their true identity was usually discovered.
“It cannot be totally dismissed that John Farlington was one of the rare exceptions.
“But it is possible that he was presumed to have died but later found to be alive, or maybe taken as a prisoner of war.
“That still wouldn’t explain there is no trace of his ever existing .
“I have tried many variations of spelling errors, but nothing has come anywhere near to someone who died in World War I.
“Someone or some organisation in the past must have submitted this name for commemoration both in 1919 when the church memorial was commissioned and later on when the Dewsbury War Memorial was erected.
“It is a complete mystery and I am hoping that there maybe someone living in this area who may know something about him.”
If there is anyone who can help unravel this mystery please ring Dewsbury 01924 468282 or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.