War of Attrition

Gosh! I haven’t posted for almost a year now…

Part of this is because I’ve been engrossed in my One-Name Study of the RETTIE surname and it can very quickly become all-consuming. I’m at the stage of being able to link the family trees of people currently living in Scotland with distant cousins living in the USA and Canada. Twitter has been a great help with establishing contact and also for quick-fire questions to establish the correct line. I’ve found WikiTree useful for publishing the findings as it lets people see the details in a $FREE environment and is also somewhere where they too can contribute.

Last April I finished the Military Archives module I’d been studying on my post-graduate course in Local and Family History at University of Dundee.

It was tough and a real hard slog. At one point I felt like surrendering and waving the white flag. I took ill at the end of January 2013 and was off work for three weeks. I fell behind with the course material and the submission of tasks for some of the module units. I had to play catch-up once I got better, and I managed to submit the Report assignment by the due date, but ended up late with the Essay. You get docked a grade for each day you are late with your assignment, although mitigating circumstances may be taken into account. The Essay and Report are each 35% of the overall module mark, with the remaining 30% being derived from the various unit tasks. Thankfully, I scraped through with an overall C1. So, having already passed the Skills and Sources for Family and Local History in Scotland module, this means I’m half-way there to obtaining my Post-Graduate Certificate.

The module tutor was Simon Fowler, author of Tracing Your First World War Ancestors, and it was the first time this particular module has been offered. In addition to the online Discussion Board, there were also a couple of Skype sessions where issues could be raised with Simon more interactively.

I thought the module material was very good and I learned a lot, not just about the archives themselves. Topics ranged from the Board of Ordnance to the Militia to World War One and Two and covered the Navy and Air Force as well as the Army. Another important aspect was the Home Front and the vital role that women played, including the various Voluntary Aid Detachments.

Joseph Lee, 'A captive at Carlsruhe : and other German prison camps', John Lane, London, 1920.

Joseph Lee, ‘A captive at Carlsruhe : and other German prison camps’, John Lane, London, 1920.

One of the sources I discovered whilst researching the Report topic was the works of Joseph Lee from Dundee. I had never heard of him until now and yet contemporary reviews rated his war poetry alongside Owen, Brookes and Sasoon. His book Capitive in Carlsruhe of his experiences as a prisoner of war is fabulous, aided by the fact that he was an accomplished artist and drew pen portraits of his fellow inmates – French, Italian, Serbian, and Portuguese. When the camp guards mutinied and overthrew the commandant during the German Revolution, he even made it to Berlin, where he witnessed Erich Leibnecht and Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist Movement.

I’d thoroughly recommend this module to anyone considering the Masters course.

As an indirect result of the course, I now have my Great-Grandfather George RETTIE‘s service record from his time in the Royal Navy Reserve.

The National Archives, Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Royal Naval Reserve Ratings' Records of Service, BT 377/7/110328.

The National Archives, Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Royal Naval Reserve Ratings’ Records of Service, BT 377/7/110328.

From the long list of ship names it first appeared he had seen lots of action, however upon close investigation they all turned out to be shore stations – even HMS Victory II.

The National Archives, Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Royal Naval Reserve Ratings' Records of Service, BT 377/7/110328.

The National Archives, Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Royal Naval Reserve Ratings’ Records of Service, BT 377/7/110328.

Having volunteered in Aberdeen before the Royal Proclamation declaring War on Germany, his service ended five years later after being discharged at Dover.

Six months later there is a note to say that Mrs RETTIE has written claiming desertion and demanding payment of his war pension. Perhaps George was a little too demob happy and was enjoying a drink or two with this mates!

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Naval Gazing | One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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