Genes Reunited Blog
Welcome to the new Genes Reunited blog!
- We regularly add blogs covering a variety of topics. You can add your own comments at the bottom.
- The Genes Reunited Team will be writing blogs and keeping you up to date with changes happening on the site.
- In the future we hope to have guest bloggers that will be able to give you tips and advice as to how to trace your family history.
- The blogs will have various privacy settings, so that you can choose who you share your blog with.
The British Newspaper Archive
Read about historical events at the time they were happening. Perhaps you'll discover your ancestor in their local newspaper?
Last night saw the start of a brand new series called Find My Past. It looks into the family history of three people and links them all to one significant event that took place in the past. Last night the show focussed on the ancestors of David Green, Lara Lawson and Lulu Alexander who all played a part in the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Operation Dynamo was the name they gave the evacuation of Dunkirk during World War 2. It was the planned evacuation of allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk between the 26th May and the 3rd June 1940. They were rescued by a hastily assembled fleet of 850 boats. About 700 of these boats were the ‘little ships' which was a flotilla of around 700 merchant marine boats, fishing boats and pleasure craft.
Using indexed birth and marriage records the team looked at each person's family tree. David found out that he was going to be learning more about his Grandad Alf's story. He went to Dover Castle to find out the connection between Alf and Operation Dynamo. Whilst he was there he was lucky enough to hear a recording of Alf talking about his experience. Alf was one of the soldiers who was rescued from the beach. David later goes to Dunkirk himself and walks along the beach with a veteran who tells him what it was like to be there.
Lulu knows a little about her family history in that they were a long line of fishermen. Her great uncle Leslie, or Lukie as he was known, had a cockle boat which was one of the ‘little ships'.
Lara's story is about her great Grandad Arthur who also owned a boat called Laetitia. Lara goes to see the actual boat and finds out that it was also one of the ‘little ships'. It is so small you can't begin to imagine how scary the evacuation must have been for everyone.
As well as seeing veterans talking about their experience we also saw quite a lot of original footage of the evacuation. One of the veterans tells us that he barely slept for the whole nine days. When you see the footage of what it was like you can see why.
Initially the plan had been to rescue 45,000 troops but over the course of the 9 days 338,000 were actually rescued.
The end of the show brought David, Lara and Lulu together and they each told the story of their relatives. David's granddad was brought back to the UK on a ‘little ship' which may well have been Lukie or Arthur's. Lulu's great Uncle Lukie was in a boat that was being towed by the Laetitia. After they dropped the soldiers off they headed back Leigh on Sea. On their way back they sadly went over a mine and great Uncle Lukie was killed. On that day Lara learns her great granddad had been ill and so he hadn't sailed. That saved his life.
This week's episode was very humbling. You realise just how brave all of those people were who took part in the evacuation. It was also quite amazing to see how three people found their stories were linked in some way. We spent time chatting with our members on Facebook after the show and some of them also had relatives who were at Dunkirk and who rescued by the ‘little ships'.
We're very much looking forward to the other shows in the series. It's on every Thursday at 9pm on the YeSTERDAY channel - 12 on freeview, 537 on Sky and 203 on Virgin. You can also see it here too - http://www.tvcatchup.com/.