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Remembered Today:

Family Mythstory - What's Your Story?


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I have long been fascinated with the unfolding family military histories on this forum and how family history handed down through generations often comes up against hard contradictory evidence. Most of the cases seem to be ones where family history was largely myth and the reality was often a loss less glamorous. I would be very interested to hear from GWF colleagues of any personal family military history that has proven to slightly at odds with the truth.

My own example: My Grandfather, according to family lore joined up at 15 at the outbreak of War, was part of the cavalry charge across the Salt lake at Suvla Bay to Gurkha Hill where the Yeomanry came under shell-fire during the whole charge, reaching the German MG's where he won the MM "second only to the VC", was later at the siege of Kut in Mesopotamia being part of the last body of troops to escape with 'vital messages' ....and he refused a commission in order to stay with his pals. And he won the "French VC". That is the story I grew up with. None of it is true.

He joined the TF in 1912 and was 21 at the outbreak of War, he did not take part in the 'cavalry charge' across the barren Salt lake (they were dismounted and marched), and he had actually scuttled across the night before with his MG Section and was snugly dug-in during the slaughter of his comrades the following day (and the march was half the distance). The advance was to Chocolate Hill, not Gurkha Hill which does not actually exist at Gallipoli, the nearest feature being Gurkha Bluff on a completely different front of Gallipoli (Helles), and his regiment never went within 10 miles of it. There were no German MGs there - they were Turkish and they were on another hill. He and his regiment never went to Kut or indeed Mesopotamia, or within 1,000 miles of Mesopotamia and he could not have won the MM at Gallipoli as the award did not exist at the time. I have no idea about the commission, but a man with a nearly identical surname was commissioned and I am fairly certain he was not offered a commission from the surviving evidence. He did win the MM (most definitely not 'second only to the VC' as holders of the DCM might argue) later in Macedonia (perhaps confused with Mesopotamia) and the French Croix de Guerre which by any stretch of the imagination could not be classed as the "French VC".

So it seems the family history was mostly highly distorted and very far from the truth. The truth was extraordinary enough and needed no exaggeration. What's your story? MG

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