A few years ago, we took advantage of a free day on Ancestry to research Judi’s grandfather. And then, having confirmed his record at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, we left it there.
However, I’ve just bought myself a subscription to MyHeritage for a year as a sort of Christmas present and given that the whole Covid thing is dragging on I reckon that I’ll need a hobby to divert me.
So, the first thing to do was import and fill out the family tree.
Now we didn’t have George’s birth certificate but we did have a copy of his army record from September 1914, which gives his supposed date of birth and his profession as an apprentice carpenter.
There’s only one thing wrong with all this – no George Henry Hill with the correct parental names was born in Victoria in 1894 (or 1893).
In fact, no person with the correct name and mother’s name was born until 1896.
And then I realised that for the first round of recruitment for the Australian Imperial Force, volunteers had to be nineteen or older and George was still eighteen.
So he’d simply added two years to his age, and no one checked, or if they did, they didn’t care.
To us, this would seem incredible, but of course then, it was quite normal. People simply didn’t have the documentation trail they have now, no drivers licences, passports, bank cards etc, etc.
And so George could simply say he was twenty. And as they never asked him for his birth certificate, he got away with it …