Another Good Day in the Life of a Genealogist


It’s WOOOORK!!!! Not a Party.

So I’m finishing a Family story that has a man fighting in the Salonika Campaign of The Great War, a Private in the Royal Irish Regiment. A man from Rural Wexford finding himself in Turkey, Greece and Serbia.

It’s hard to find original words written by ordinary soldiers, but I found a war diary kept by a young recruit, who wasn’t actually Irish, he was from Basingstoke, but was picked up by the regiment when they were based in Hampshire before being shipped out to the Eastern Mediterranean.

That being done, I wanted to get an emotional feel for the time, and am lucky enough to live withing 45 minutes of The National Trust’s Sandham Memorial Chapel, details here:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sandham-memorial-chapel

This is a great place if you are interested in WW1 and the Salonika Campaign in particular, as it’s filled with the paintings of Stanley Spencer, a fascinating character in his own right, who served in the Salonika Campaign and was commissioned to paint the inside of the Chapel with frescos reflecting the War, and eventually became a memorial to a member of the Family who commissioned him, one of whom served in WW1, and died as a result of illness some years later.

The pictures are fascinating, in a remarkable style, but reflect the day to day mixed in with Christian allegory fantasy. The beauty for me is that the pictures aren’t of great battles, rather of men washing, doing their laundry, being treated in Hospital, or just filling water bottles, looking after their Mules, and cooking or cleaning floors. It’s the mundane and everyday that makes it so special, the 90% of war that doesn’t get reported.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sandham-memorial-chapel/features/the-chapel-and-painting-at-sandham-memorial-chapel

There are also some good short films shown covering the history of the Campaign, and beautiful small gardens to walk around. Inspirational when you have little to go on for an ordinary Private Soldier’s experiences.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sandham-memorial-chapel/features/the-gardens-at-sandham-memorial-chapel

…and of course there are some good country pubs in the area, to help lubricate the thought processes!

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