Well, today happens to be the 25th of April or ANZAC day, the anniversary of the Galipolli landings and a solemn day in the Australian calendar, perhaps too solemn, but that’s a different discussion.
Anyway, after my success with open source genealogy, we thought we’d take advantage of the fact that Ancestry.com have a free day on first world war veterans’ records to go searching for Judi’s grandfather, who everybody thought had been at Galipolli but no one was sure.
While the actual records are at either the National Archives in Canberra or the Australian War memorial, the searchable online ones are annoyingly only available via Ancestry.
Annoying, but digitisation costs money and the servers need heating, cooling and power to keep the disks spinning, and that all costs.
Finding Judi’s grandfather was easy – we needed a little more work to find that he had been in the landings and had been injured a few days later, and sent to a hospital in Malta before being redeployed to Egypt, from whence he was transferred to the AIF facility in Wiltshire for additional training before being sent to France.
In the course of all of this he met and married Judi’s grandmother, was put in detention and had his pay docked for going AWOL around the time J’s mother was born, and somehow managed to survive the whole bloody business and be discharged in September 1919, having signed up five years earlier at the start of the war.
We managed to piece this together with the aid of google and wikipedia to find the locations of army camps or the terms we didn’t understand, including even a suburb in Melbourne that was split into two in the 1950’s (but the train station kept the old name), plus a bit of playing with the scanned images – people’s handwriting then was just as bad as now, and harried record and pay clerks seem to have been worse than anyone.What it taught us is that you can find out a lot, and I mean a lot quickly with a bit of work. (Oh and we saved pdf copies of everything for work after the paywall reappears …)