Ancestral Wales

Our Stories, Our History


Memories of a Button Jar, A Photograph Box and a Mamgu who was Adored!


Tonight looking out of the window at the rain, memories of the button jar sweep through

Gran's Flat

Gran’s Flat

my mind

She kept it in her sideboard until I came to stay … and we talked of where the buttons came from – the uniforms that they had adorned

We sat so many hours in her small Welsh flat, with its smell of Imperial Leather soap,

Jim Reeves on the radio… an Agatha Christie tale beside the bed…

…and breakfasts of fresh crusty bread, butter, marmalade and tea


More childhood memories of bus rides with Grandad, and Aneurin the conductor singing nursery rhymes to me

The Sweet shop in Tre’r-ddol …

Picking blackberries…

Swimming in the cold, cold sea…

Lamb chops, fresh mint sauce, rice pudding and Corona pop on Sundays (Dandelion and Burdock when it was my turn to pick!!)

Welsh cakes, warm and buttery

A sixpence pressed into your hand from family and friends


Time and time again, we poured over family photos, buttons and the stories they told

I never tired of hearing about my ancestors who had travelled – and lived – and died – in a past I would never know…

… and her stories led to my passion of discovering the past and in doing so … discovering myself

The Cambrian Line from Bow Street © Copyright Nigel Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


I saw her last, waving to me by the fence as my train went by her flat one last time, and I left for travels overseas

… and there isn’t a single day that goes by, that I don’t think of her

New Project to Digitise 360,000 First World War RAF and RFC Service Records

RAF BadgeLeading UK family history website and The National Archives have today announced a joint project to digitise hundreds of thousands of service records of First World War Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Air Force (RAF) airmen.

The contract to digitise this record set, known as AIR 79, was awarded to by The National Archives following a competitive tender process. It is estimated that, once digitised, the collection will comprise 360,000 transcripts and 800,000 scanned full-colour images dating back to 1912.

The handwritten records begin with the creation of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912 and continue into the inter-war period. They provide insight into the lives of the extraordinary RFC and RAF airmen who served during the First World War, including details of medals awarded, discharge dates, promotions and information on the airmen’s families. For the first time these records will be made available and fully searchable online.

Some of the incredible details include information from the Ministry of Defence of servicemen who enlisted during the First World War and continued to serve during the 1930s and even into the Second World War.

Paul Nixon, Content Licensing Manager at said: “The AIR 79 record set includes fascinating information on many incredible RAF airmen. The documents offer great insight and contain some amazing images.

“This significant project will allow these records to become more widely available to an international audience and make it easier than ever before to find an airman’s record through the straightforward search function on This collection will be an exciting and very welcome addition to the1.6 billion records already on our site.” 

William Spencer, Principal Military Records Specialist at The National Archives, said: “The digitisation of AIR 79 will enable researchers to understand that the RAF was not just pilots and engineers but a multitude of different roles and skills needed to support the complex world of early military aviation.”

Once the records housed at The National Archives have been scanned and transcribed by, they will join a growing online resource of military, armed forces and conflict records from the First and Second World Wars including Medal Rolls, Rolls of Honour and Recruitment registers from all three services at The records will also be made available on findmypast’s international sites as part of a World subscription.

The AIR79 contract is the latest in a number of contracts awarded to by The National Archives dating back to 2006. Record sets previously digitised by in association with The National Archives include Crime, Prisons and Punishment; outbound passenger lists; British Army Service records; Merchant Navy Seamen’s records; Maritime Birth, Marriage and Death indexes and the 1911 census.

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