Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A citation

This week I renewed my subscription to Ancestry, to help me with part of the work I need to do this autumn for my Open University course on family history.

When I logged on last night I saw that since I was last there, Ancestry have made available the British Army service records from World War I. I started rummaging and searching and without really noticing I lost a whole evening reading the records of my ancestors who had fought in the war.

By far the best document I found was this citation for a DCM, or Distinguished Conduct Medal, awarded to my Great Grandfather in 1920.

My Great Grandfather was awarded the medal:

"For gallantry and devotion to duty. He served at Ypres from June to December 1915, on the Somme from July to September 1916, at Nieuport in August and September 1917, during the operations at Passchendaele from September to December 1917, during the enemy offensive and our subsequent advance in 1918."

That reads like my old school history textbooks. He fought in every major offensive of World War I. And amazingly, despite two separate injuries (one of which was a 'gunshot wound to the head') he returned to the front again and again, survived the war, and lived on to be an old man, dying in the mid 1970s just a year or two after I was born. The things he must have seen and experienced don't bear thinking about.

I looked up from my computer screen at nearly half past midnight and saw that the date was November 11th. I told C and O about my finds when we got up this morning, and as we walked to school we tried to imagine how Ray Renwick felt this time ninety one years ago. Very, very thankful I think.

As are we all.


  1. What a wonderful post - and a man to be proud of. Thank you.

  2. Grandad Renwick was a lovely man, full of humour and good works. I don't remember him talking about the war at all. But I do remember sitting on his knee, and him teaching me 'This is the way the ladies ride'and 'The Grand old Duke of York'. He would also tease and tickle me until I implored him to stop, only to ask for more! He always gave me a ten shilling note when we left for home. He was a wonderful Grandad and I loved him very much.

  3. what a hero, as you say it seems he served in every major battle.

    I can't beleive that there is still conflict today.

    my absolute respect to them all

  4. What an interesting post. My Mum wants to look into her family history further so I will tell her about Ancestry.

  5. That is an amazing find! It is really hard to imagine what he must have lived through, surviving those most terrible of battles.

    Ancestry is great, I love looking at their census records and finding my relatives' signatures from long long ago.

    What is the class you're taking?


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