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Genealogy Blog

4 February 2014

Why the Real World War One Heroine Who Was Inspiration Behind Downton Abbey Refused To Accept a CBE for Her Work Caring for the Wounded

The socialite who was the inspiration for Downton Abbey’s Lady Cora refused an honour recognising her work caring for the wounded during the First World War. Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, who trained as a nurse and turned Highclere Castle into a military hospital, apparently did not think she merited the CBE offered in the 1920 Honours List.

Her decision is recorded in Cabinet Office papers obtained by The Mail on Sunday. They reveal she was one of several female aristocrats who declined to be honoured.

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24 January 2014

France's Oldest Factory, Dating Back More Than 500 Years, To Close

What is believed to be the oldest factory in France, dating back to 1478, is set to close its doors. The Docelles paper mill employs 161 people, and while its Finland-based owner UPM is open to the sale of the mill’s machinery and property, the workers will lose their jobs.

Minister for industry, Arnaud Montebourg, has said he will look to help find a buyer, while the workers themselves have spoken of setting up a co-operative to protect some jobs.

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1918 Flu Pandemic That Killed 50 Million Originated in China, Historians Say

The global flu outbreak of 1918 killed 50 million people worldwide, ranking as one of the deadliest epidemics in history.

For decades, scientists have debated where in the world the pandemic started, variously pinpointing its origins in France, China, the American Midwest, and beyond. Without a clear location, scientists have lacked a complete picture of the conditions that bred the disease and factors that might lead to similar outbreaks in the future.

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22 January 2014

First World War Killed One Million More Soldiers Than Records Show

One million more soldiers may have died in the First World War than first believed while survivors left with crippling shell-shock were also severely underestimated, leading academics said today.

Antoine Prost, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Paris, says that in the chaos after the Great War governments, including Britain's, produced conservative death figures. Professor Prost also says errors in casualty lists and the vast number of missing soldiers means ten million probably perished in trench warfare between 1914 and 1918, not nine million as first thought.

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20 January 2014

Londonderry, Northern Ireland: Six Brothers and The First World War

Local man David Jenkins has been researching his family history and in the process has uncovered a fascinating tale of bravery, coincidence and tragedy. The story of Samuel, John James, Albert, Austin, Thomas and William Jenkins’ involvement in the ‘Great War’ is one that shows the devastating scale of the First World War and its impact on families throughout Ireland and Britain.

His grandfather, Samuel and five of Samuel’s brothers fought in different regiments and battalions in the war but all six are likely to have witnessed unthinkable horrors as they fought bravely for their country.

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17 January 2014

British Government Accused of 'Social Engineering' Over WW1 Plans

Ministers have been accused of “social engineering” over their plans to mark the centenary of the First World War, by downplaying the role of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in favour of the contribution from New Commonwealth nations.

Critics claim the government is focusing on black and Asian servicemen from other parts of the British Empire, such as India, as well as Caribbean and West African nations, at the expense of the Anzac forces, along with those from Canada and South Africa. They have accused British ministers of “political correctness” and a “whitewashing” of history.

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13 January 2014

Rare Fungus May Have Arrived on WWI Soldiers' Boots

A rare fungus discovered near a former Edinburgh war hospital may have been unwittingly brought to the area by World War One soldiers. The fungi Clavulinopsis cinereoides - rarely seen in Europe - has been spotted for the first time in Scotland.

Ecologist Abbie Patterson made the discovery on a lawn at Napier University's Craiglockhart Campus. She said soldiers' boots may have picked up spores while tramping the fields of Flanders.

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9 January 2014

After 68 Years, Daughter of Anne Frank's Classmate Finally Gets Her Chance To Thank the British Officer Who Saved Her Mother From Nazi Concentration Camp

The daughter of a Jewish classmate of Anne Frank rescued from the horrors of Bergen Belsen concentration camp has met the British officer who saved her mother's life. Grateful Elizabeth Kahn, 59, flew to Israel to meet Major Leonard Berney, 93, from Plymouth, Devon, and present him with a special silver platter paid for by the family in recognition of his heroics.

Jewish Leonard, of the British 11th Armoured division, was one of the first army officers through the gates of Belsen when the camp was liberated on April 15, 1945.

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4 December 2013

World War II Female Secret Agents 'Very Afraid'

The Prince of Wales has unveiled a memorial to the women who were secret agents during World War II. More than 80 British women are believed to have infiltrated enemy lines during the war, with four being awarded the George Cross for their bravery.

Noreen Riols, who was in the Special Operations Executive (SOE), described the women as "very brave, very courageous, and very afraid", and said they mostly acted as couriers behind enemy lines.

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2 December 2013

Awe-Inspiring Spirit of WWI Hero Who Lost Two Brothers In Action And A Sister In A Zeppelin Raid But Survived Being Left For Dead In A Heap of Bodies At Passchendale

A soldier who survived the Somme and fought at Ypres was left for dead after being shot in the stomach at Passchendale, his son has revealed.

The body of Robert Collie was then thrown onto a heap of corpses while he was still alive and he was only saved after a passing India medic saw him twitching. He survived his wounds and returned to the fighting, serving in India after World War I finished and rising through the ranks from Private to Major.

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28 November 2013

Efforts of 20,000 Dogs On the Front Line in World War I Discovered in Records That Show They Carried Aid To The Wounded And Pulled Equipment

The undying loyalty of ‘man’s best friend’ has rarely been in question. But never has the bond between man and dog been tested more so than in the First World War.

It is thought around 20,000 dogs were pressed into service during the war effort, and now researchers have unearthed details of their heart-wrenching exploits. These ‘dogs of war’ became unsung heroes to the men in the trenches.

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19 November 2013

Did Minneapolis Man Order Nazi-Led Attack That Killed Dozens Of Civilians?

A retired Minnesota carpenter, shown in a June investigation to be a former commander in a Nazi SS-led unit, ordered his men to attack a Polish village that was razed to the ground, according to testimony newly uncovered by The Associated Press.

The account of the massacre that killed dozens of women and children contradicts statements by the man's family that he was never at the scene of the 1944 bloodshed.

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15 November 2013

1st-Century Roots of 'Little Red Riding Hood' Found

Folktales can evolve much like species do, taking on new features and dropping others as they spread to different parts of the world.

One researcher in the United Kingdom tested this analogy quite literally, using analytical models that are typically used to study the relationships between species to create an evolutionary tree for "Little Red Riding Hood" and its cousins.

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12 November 2013

Killed in WWI, French Soldier Finally Laid To Rest

A French soldier killed in action during World War I was finally laid to rest in his hometown Monday just months after his remains were discovered by chance by German tourists.

Jean Caillou was 41 when he was gunned down in March 1916 near Verdun in the northeast, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the devastating 1914-18 war that claimed the lives of 1.4 million French people.

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The Last Widow of the Great War: Devoted Wife Pays Tribute To Hero Husband Whose Remarkable WWI Story Inspired War Horse

Dorothy Ellis, 93, the last surviving widow of a soldier from the First World War, laid a wreath in memory of her late husband, Wilfred, who died in 1982, at a ceremony commemorating the Armistice in Staffordshire this morning.

Wilfred Ellis survived being shot, gassed and left for dead in the mud of northern France to return home to eventually marry Dorothy, who was born three years after the end of the war.

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