True Identity of a fallen soldier in the Great War Part - 8

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cnosni
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Postby cnosni » Sat 19 Jul, 2014 11:17 am

Yes, with phone in hand i was going to actually speak to someone and find out what exactly what they wanted, and how on earth could they not look at the evidence and see that it was a splain as day that they were one and the same man.

Furthermore how could they not also see that from their own investigations into Private 3/10645's next of kin that the similarities between two supposedly different men's next of kin were too many to be coincidence!!

Oh yes, i was going to get some answers.

All this work and just a cursory condescending pat on the head, "Good boy,but not good enough!"

I felt that this was a case of some well educated set of upper middle class university educated civil servant types looking down and sneerily "dissing" some little working class bloke who had had the audacity to question the establishment.

I have come across similar types in the Family History world and usually i just ignore them and get on with it, but come on, this is MY family and the establishment have got his name wrong!!

Yes, i know, but thats how i felt after reading the second reply but when i made the call, and got through to Nic Andrews i had calmed down somewhat.

Mr Andrews was not what i thought he was going to be.

He wasnt condescending and wasnt patronising, i was completely disarmed by his empathy and his complimenting my research and the quality of the evidence, i felt somewhat guilty that i had prejudged these people in a way i thought that they were judging me.

Nic went on to explain that it wasnt really in the Commissions remit to undertake any investigations of their own into submitted evidence such as my own.

The Commissions job is to commemorate the fallen and help to identify any newly discovered dead soldiers to ensure, as best as they can, that they are then appropriately commemorated.

They have 1.7 million graves in 23.000 worldwide locations to maintain and repair and even though they found my evidence to be reasonable the soldier i was campaigning for, whatever his name, had a burial place with a headstone, which is i suppose a damn site more that those lads who just have their names on the memorial at Thiepval, Menin and Tyne Cot.

Thats the Commissions job and unless any concrete evidence came to light then all they could do was to add the notes to their records that they offered in the latest reply.

Well, that was it. I had no more else to give.

There was no other evidence available and when i asked Nic about the records where they had sourced the next of kin details he told me that they were held by the Department for Work and Pensions and were not available to the public, so i couldnt even see these records.

So in February 2011 i had to admit that there was nothing else i could do.
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Postby cnosni » Sat 19 Jul, 2014 11:44 am

In August 2013 i had been to London for a few days with the boss and the little un and was haeding back north on the train from Kings Cross.

It was a bad journey home, the overhead wires were down at Retford and our tratin was stood just to the south of Retford, and as our train was an electric we were going nowhere in a hurry.

For once i was a passenger trapped on a train to nowhere and i was getting pretty bored.

So after about an hour and a half of playing on the Kindle Fire i started to re read the newspapers on our table.

As i flicked through a paper i had already "read" i noticed a small article at the bottom of one of the pages of the paper.

And what an article this was.

"The last wishes of thousands of soldiers killed in World War One - and unseen for almost a century - can now been seen online.

The wills of 230,000 British Empire soldiers written in their own hand have been placed on a new website, allowing families and historians to view them for the first time.

Around 5% of the wills contain personal letters penned by the soldiers. They were intended for loved ones back home but never posted, and spent the last 100 years lying alongside the writers' wills in rows of sealed archive boxes.

Archivists at specialist record management company Iron Mountain spent five months first indexing and then painstakingly scanning by hand the soldiers' wills so they could be put onto a computer and then online.

The work was undertaken under contract from Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), which is responsible for the records.

Visit the website at www.gov.uk/probate-search ."


So right there and then, on the train, i booted up the Kindle again and looked online at the link.

I found the relevant search page and put in the surname of Hoolahan death 1916, that resulted in nothing.

Ok, same again but Hoolan, after all his brother James called himself Hoolan .

Nothing.

With a heavy heart i typed in Hoonan and searched again.

Result.

However, even though i had a result it wasnt really what i wanted.

If, as i had speculated, that a mistake had been made with his surname when he joined the army then surely if he had written his own Will then that would be correct.

It looked as if the CWGC's reluctance to completely alter their records was justified and that indeed i was wrong, despite all the "coincidental" similarities.

The Will itself was not available to view online. To see the Will you have to pay £10 and a digital copy is then sent a few days later to your email address.

What the hell its a tenner, i will order it anyway. So when i eventually reached home (8 hours after leaving Kings Cross i went back online and ordered the Will.



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Postby Dalehelms » Sat 19 Jul, 2014 12:14 pm

I'm loving this thread, cnosni.
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Postby kango » Sat 19 Jul, 2014 5:47 pm

+1

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Postby cnosni » Sun 20 Jul, 2014 12:41 pm

So a few days later and an email pops up in my inbox from the Will people.

There were 3 parts to the email, the envelope, the overall details of the Will writer and the Will itself.

The piece with the overall details showed that it belonged to a Private 10645 (no 3/ prefix) Robert Hoonan, 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellingtons Killed in Action 1st July 1916.
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Postby cnosni » Sun 20 Jul, 2014 12:45 pm

the date of the Will been written is also shown, 20th June 1916, just over a week before he was killed. and was administered on the 21st November 1916.

On this post i have copied the Will itself, written in the soldiers own hand and signed as "Robert Hoonan", matching the name on the Details Page.

Lets see how sharped eyed you all are
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Postby Leodian » Sun 20 Jul, 2014 1:21 pm

Your endeavours in getting information do you great credit cnosni. I admire your perseverance. I hope it all finally works out to your satisfaction.

I notice that the will seems to state his sister's surname is 'Hoolan'.
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Postby cnosni » Sun 20 Jul, 2014 1:31 pm

Leodian wrote:
Your endeavours in getting information do you great credit cnosni. I admire your perseverance. I hope it all finally works out to your satisfaction.

I notice that the will seems to state his sister's surname is 'Hoolan'.


Indeed Leodian,the evidence to finally link the name of Hoonan with Hoolan.

You will notice that not only is the address that his next of kin is listed as living at, 7 Sloe Street, York Road, Leeds corresponds with the army service record of James Hoolan but it also corresponds with the address that the CWGC had for the next of kin in the Department of Works and Pensions records.

Furthermore his sister is shown to be a "spinster as she is described as "MISS Maggy Hoolan", thus meaning that she is described with her maiden name and that as she is shown as being his sister then it stands to reason that they should have the same surnames if she is unmarried.

Just so there is no ambiguity over this here is a close up of them both together, as written by the soldier.

Transcript of Will-

In the event of my death
I give the whole of my
property and effects to
My sister Miss
Maggy Hoolan c/o
Miss L McLoughlin
No 7 Sloe St. off York
Road Leeds
Signature- Robert Hoonan
Rank and Regiment- Pte Duke of Wellingtons
Date- 20th June 1916
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Postby cnosni » Sun 20 Jul, 2014 1:33 pm

and for further proof here is the Will writer using a letter "L" in the middle of another name, that of L (Liz) McLoughlin
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Postby cnosni » Sun 20 Jul, 2014 1:41 pm

As you can see the writing is clear and legible, not messy or confused.

I even now know where it was written.

The Will was written whilst the Battalion were out of the line, in a rest area back in a village called Bertrancourt.

The Battalion War diaries for the 2nd Dukes shows that the Battalion were "In huts" and were involved in "Digging and other fatigues" where they were to remain until the night of 30th June.

The billets did receive some sporadic hits from the Germans as Bertrancourt was relatively close to the front line but the conditions the battalion were in were nothing like the trenches and so they had a better degree of comfort, hence the "orderly" appearance of the Will.    
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