Sunday, 20 August 2017

Thoughts on “Your’re in the army now”

There is nothing like writing about a topic to make you take a closer look at the information you already have. I learned so much going through the research I had already done on George Welch. I had no idea where he had been until I wrote a timeline of his ten-year stint. Further research added depth to my understanding of what he would have faced where he was posted. 
Of course, now I want to know more. I also have another place to visit on my wish list, Winchester. Who knows what more information could be found there at the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum? The museum also has the added attraction of being housed in the Peninsula Barracks, the home of the 60th Rifles in Winchester, where George Welch once lived. 

There is nothing like visiting the ground where your ancestors once trod. Speaking of which, in the book Army Records: a Guide for Family Historians, William Spencer talks about media interest in families, successive generations of men, who have served in the same places during the various Afghan Wars.* Now there would be a true case of following in your father’s footsteps. That passage in his book made me realized there was a connection in my own family, not to the Afghan Wars but to being sent to serve where previous generations in your family had served. My father, George Welch’s grandson, spent part of his WWII service in India. I wonder if he knew that his grandfather had been there before him? It shows that we are connected to the past in more ways than we may be aware of. 


Spencer, William. Army Records: A Guide for Family Historians. The National Archives, Kew, 2008 *p 10


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Story from the Census and Beyond or “You’re in the army now” part 7

The Indian Mutiny started in the spring of 1857 and continued until 1859. The 1st Battalion of the 60th Rifles had been in India since 1856. They were joined by the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 60th Rifles in 1857 after the mutiny had begun. The 1st Battalion were involved in many of the major battles of the mutiny. Members of the 1st Battalion were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions during those skirmishes and, later, the battalion raised a monument in Dover to the members of their battalion who lost their lives during the Indian Mutiny.

It was easy to find information about the movements of the 1st Battalion while they were in India. Unfortunately, I was unable to reconstruct the movements of the 3rd Battalion through the records. The 3rd Battalion, or at least those who travelled with George Welch, arrived at Calcutta in November of 1857. According to the muster rolls, there were times that George was present but it does not specify where he was, times when he was at the Fort at Bangalore and also about a month when he was in the hospital. Was he wounded or perhaps felled by disease brought on by the unaccustomed climate? It is also recorded that George Welch embarked for England on April 24, 1860. 

While it would be great to have a connection with a soldier who fought with the 1st Battalion of the 60th Rifles, who was involved in battles and perhaps even awarded a medal, there is always a good chance that such a soldier could be maimed in the fighting or even killed. Much better for me that George Welch survived to return to England and specifically to Winchester where my great grandmother, Harriet, worked as a domestic servant. Was it the uniform that caught her eye?  Whatever it was, Harriet and George were married on September 14, 1863 while George was still in the army. He was discharged from the army on November 22, 1864. I wonder if she lived in the barracks with him for that year or continued on as a live-in domestic? 


Ralby, Dr. Aaron. Atlas of Military History: An Illustrated Global Survey of Warfare from Antiquity to the Present Day. Parragon Books Ltd., Bath, UK, 2013