genealogy

Alice Owen's Final Days

In 1939, Alice Owen was 82 years of age, suffering from dementia and myocarditis. She was a widow, her husband, Daniel Owen, having died in St. Helens, Lancashire in 1928. For some time after her husband’s death, although I’m not certain for how long, Alice lived with her single daughter, Mary Owen, and Mary’s son, Joseph Owen, at 57 Cooper Street in St. Helens.

¬†At 32, Alice’s grandson Joseph earned his living as a general labourer at a local glass bottle manufacturing plant. His mother, Mary, kept house. So it seems that Joe was the sole source of income for the small household, and Mary would have been responsible for caring for her infirm and senile mother.

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A Fractious Soldier

South Lancashire Regiment with borderWhen Britain entered World War I in August 1914, William Henton was a young man of 23, newly married and with an infant son, living in St. Helens, Lancashire, England. With newspapers publishing appeals to join the armed services, hundreds of thousands of men joined within just a few months, and William was one of them. On 4 September 1914, William joined the ranks of the South Lancashire Regiment, 7th Battalion.

As I read through William’s service record, I was surprised to read that within 5 months of his attestation, having never left the country, he was discharged as medically unfit.

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First World War Resources at Archive.org

Not all service records from WWI survive. Of those that do survive, some are available for free. For example, those for Canada are currently being digitised and placed online by Library and Archives Canada. Fire destroyed some of the service records for the United Kingdom; those that remain are available through subscription websites such as Ancestry and findmypast. Fire was also responsible for the loss of many service records in the United States.

Fortunately, many towns, counties, schools, and companies created biographical directories to honour those who served in WWI. Local libraries often hold some of these in their collections.

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