Ancestral Wales

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Genealogy

A Tale of Two Thomas’

 

When I was waiting for a ride home from work a couple of months ago, I began surfing the internet, as always looking for interesting Welsh websites to add to Ancestral Wales.

 

I ran across the Ceredigion County War Memorial website.  I began searching through the memorials in the towns and villages that I am familiar with and noticed reference to Thomas Jones, son of Thomas and Mary Jones of Maldwyn House, Talybont.  I realized that this was my great grandmother’s brother and explained why I hadn’t been able to find much out about him.   The article went on to say that “Thomas was killed during heavy hand to hand fighting within Mametz Wood on 11 July 1916. He was 24 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.”   Thomas served with 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, known as the Carmarthen Pals.  A little bit of research pulled up a book called Carmarthen Pals:  A history of the 15th (Service) Battalion The Welsh Regiment, 1914-1919, written by Steven John who is also the website founder. Luckily I was able to purchase a copy of the book  here.   Of course I ordered it right away and have been enjoying a moving and fascinating read about the battalion.  A little bit more research pulled up his military records on the ancestry.co.uk database.

 

Thomas’ sister Mary Jane and one of her daughters

This young farm worker was 23 years and 11 months when he enlisted on March 18, 1915, just 5 foot 4 inches tall. He appears to have died from a shell wound to his right shoulder. One of the most poignant sections of his military records for me were his mother’s signature on April 22, 1920 accepting his medal and his private property, listed as; 2 discs, 1 purse, cigarette case, photos, letters, leather bag. Were the photos and letters of his family?  Did he have a girlfriend who was waiting for him to come home?  My poor great, great grandmother lost her son in 1916, her daughter (my great grandmother) in 1917 and her young grandaughter in 1912.

 

 

 

Thomas Fitton, was born in 1882 was single and a painter – 5 foot 8 inches tall and 140 pounds when he enlisted in the 22nd Service Battalion, Manchester Regiment – The Manchester Pals.  He was living in Oldham, Lancashire with his brother Edmund.  Thomas enlisted Feb 25, 1916 and embarked from Folkstone to Boulogne. He received shrapnel wounds to both his legs in 1916 and was admitted to hospital.  Although his injuries were considered serious, he recovered enough to be sent back to war.  However, he sadly died of a chest wound, 3 July 1918 and is buried in Cavaletto British Cemetery in Italy.

 

Cavaletto British Cemetary, Italy

 

The following effects were on his person when he died; a religious book, disc, photo, wallet and 2 titles.  Under this list, a note; “Please note that the above mentioned articles are the joint property of all the late soldier’s brothers.”  This letter was sent to Ernest Mills Fitton, his brother.  He left to mourn his brothers Edmund, Ernest, James and William (my grandfather).  Poignant in this case was his 3 days punishment for being unshaven at the 7:30 a.m. parade, with the words (died of wounds) under it.

William, brother of Thomas

 

Although I don’t have a photograph of Thomas Fitton, I do have this photo of his brother - my grandfather William, his wife Mary and their eldest son William.  Their son - my Dad -  was named Thomas, after this young soldier.

 

 

 

 

Every Remembrance Day, I have so many family members to honour – some were fortunate enough to come home and others such as the two Thomas’ did not.

 

In the words of Laurence Binyon…

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor do the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

Genetics and Genealogy

Back to business with courses from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  I have eleven left to take and then I’m finished.  Maybe. They are fun to do and I learn so much.  I’ve a few ancestors who traveled to Australia, so the Australian Immigration Records course should prove useful.

 

Interestingly enough the other course is Genetics and Genealogy which is fascinating stuff, but because I’ve taken advantage of the Ancestry.com special offer for a DNA test, I’m hoping it will help me understand more.  I mailed the test off yesterday and I’m very excited, but I also realize that it will likely take a long time to get results.

 

Lastly, welcome aboard the genealogy train to  my daughter, One Little Apple, Far From the Tree.  It’s wonderful to be able to finally share my passion with someone who ‘gets’ it.  I’m also looking forward tremendously to working together on some projects!

 

Anyone who knows my family, knows that we have a new ‘baby’ in our lives.  Annie is a four-legged, rescued Heinz 57 variety.  I ran into this quote the other day made for a dog really, but also reminded me that I need to:

 

“Live every day, like someone left the gate open!”

I feel rejuvenated, inspired and eager to get back to rooting out my roots.

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