A unique A-Z revealing how hundreds of members of one Devon family fought and died at war has just been completed.
It gives a detailed insight into more than 350 men and women of the Roberts family who served in the two world wars and the Second Boer War.
They are all connected to me – either as direct ancestors or through marriage to members of my family.
Fifteen years ago, I only knew of one ancestor who had gone to war – my grandfather George Burnett Roberts.
As a boy, I was given a picture of him – taken just after he had enlisted in the Army Service Corps – and a dozen brass buttons from his uniform.
A chance discovery revealed that he was one of a record 30 grandsons of Witheridge farm worker John Roberts who served in the Great War.
John’s remarkable story – told in two editions of the book History Maker – provided the inspiration for this new research project.
The Great War Forum has played a key role in turning the A-Z into reality.
Many 'mystery soldiers' have been identified - and their war service revealed - thanks to help from members of this brilliant forum.
The A-Z shows how 75 members of my family lost their lives – 50 in the First World War, 24 in the Second World War and one in the Second Boer War.
Of those who died, the vast majority were killed in infantry attacks on the front line or died from wounds sustained in action.
One soldier lost his life as a prisoner of war. Three succumbed to sickness. Six died at sea – in warship and submarine attacks. One was killed in a flying accident.
Five – including a mother and her two daughters – were killed in Blitz and ‘Doodlebug’ attacks on London and Portsmouth.
The youngest who went to war was Frederick ‘Fred’ Facey, who was just 14 when he served as a bugler in South Africa.
Many who fought and died served in the New Zealand, Australian, Canadian and United States Army and Navy.
Of the women who went to war, many served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and Auxiliary Territorial Service. One was attached to a secret operations unit at Westward Ho!
The stories of the many who did not make it home – and of those who survived, some with horrific injuries – are highlighted in a series of special features.
· How five members of the Roberts family fought together on a remote battlefield on the darkest day in the history of the 16th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment
· How a young soldier died in the worst maritime disaster in British History
· The men decorated for their extraordinary courage in the First and Second World Wars
· The eight men held as prisoners of war in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan
· How a soldier turned out to be alive and well when his ‘death’ in the Great War was announced in his local newspaper
The A-Z is now available on a special custom-made USB flash drive. Any proceeds from sales will go to hospice charities.
The picture shows 24 members of the Roberts family who fought in - and in many cases - died in the two world wars.
Edited by syd