I read with interest the letter by Gwen Rawlingson about her work at Shoeburyness (` Shoeburyness garrison’ in ‘Readers’ letters’, April/May) as my father served in the Maritime Royal Artillery and started his service there in 1943.
This branch of the service is little known, but contributed a great deal to the war effort. Briefly, the government decided that as our shipping losses were spiralling in the early years of the Second World War the merchant ships bringing in vital supplies needed some protection. The Maritime Royal Artillery was formed and Army and Royal Navy personnel were drafted in to be trained as gunners on what became known as DEMS, or defensively equipped merchant ships. My father’s record reveals that he spent a total of 364 days on board ship during his term of service from 1943 to 1945. He was awarded the Atlantic Star, the Burma Star and the Italy Star in addition to the usual war medals, so he served in the major theatres. Fortunately he was not on the Russian convoys.
I have done a lot of research on this service and I have some photographs of my dad on board ship with some crew members. I have no idea when they were taken, but if any other reader has any connection with this regiment and would like information or copy photos please feel free to contact me at the postal or email address below. I have written direct to Gwen expressing my gratitude on behalf of my dad and his shipmates at what she and her colleagues have done.
BRIAN L ROOTE
404 Godstone Road, Whyteleafe Surrey CR3 OBB
My daughter bought me a subscription to Family Tree Magazine as a 70th birthday present. It’s great! I have been tracing our ancestors for several years, and this will really help, but how much will our descendants know about us in 100 years time?
Seeking to leave our immediate family’s mark for the future, I set about writing the history of our own children and our parents – it was meant to be one book just for the family, but things got out of hand. We have, admittedly, had rather adventurous lives, but I did not realise it would go so well. There are five books in the series now, all self-published and selling like mad!
Believe it or not, the story has been taken up by one of the biggest publishers in the country, the first volume due out as a talking book.
Now there’s a thought for readers, to add extra interest to their own family trees. Like me, you might actually make a profit. We’ve made our own private web page too, and called it.
If I can help any readers of my favourite magazine, I’d be proud to do so from dental and vision insurance. I’m retired, so I have time on my hands to answer letters, phone calls or emails.
Nr Penzance, Cornwall TR20 9EP
On reading the article ‘Flash, bang, wallop – what a picture!’ by Joyce Walmsley in Family Tree Magazine April/May, I was surprised to see my name and work mentioned. Unfortunately some of the details were not correct.
The directories of photographers in Cheshire, Lancashire, Shropshire and Staffordshire were published by the RPS Historical Group as supplements to their magazine PhotoHistorian, and issued to members. The research is mine, and so I have put the lists on to CD-ROM for Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. These are available from me at the address below at a cost of £5 each.
The book Lancashire Professional Photographs 1840-1940 is available from PhotoResearch in Watford and those details were correct. The book contains information on dating photographs from different aspects as well as listing Lancashire photographs and their operational dates at specific addresses.
5 Mitchell Rise, Yarnfield
Stone, Staffordshire ST15 OTR
In a letter in the April/May edition of Family Tree Magazine, Ian Ferguson asked the question why, in the era of ‘freedom of information’, both marriage and death data is retained by the government for 100 years. That’s not entirely true of course, as certificates can be obtained on request, although census records are closed. This reflects the requirements of the Data Protection Act, which specifically protects personal data (while giving individuals the right to obtain copies of their own data).
Although the law may seem overprotective (as Mr Ferguson says, personal information may be known locally), the legislation is complicated enough without exempting bits here and there, and it does provide for the very much needed protection of personal data and provides a means of redress against its misuse.
Data Protection & Freedom of
19 Rosedale Gardens, Thatcham Berkshire RG19 3LE
In the November 2004 issue of Family Tree Magazine my ‘Family heirloom’ photograph of a wedding party outside Torksey Golf Club near Lincoln was published on page 34.
I am delighted to say that I have now found the marriage certificate to go with the photograph. The bridegroom was Frederick John Earl, a bachelor aged 34, son of John
Edward Earl; the bride was Mary Ella Earl, a spinster aged 29, daughter of Frank Earl, both of Brampton. The wedding was on 11 July 1911 at Torksey parish church, Brampton is in the same parish as Torksey. It looks as though the couple may have been cousins.
I have received several letters since the photograph was printed, for which I am most grateful.
MRS SUZANNE LANGFORD
Hyland, 50 High Street,
West Wratting, Cambridge CBI 5LU
The first Sunday school?
I read Robert Burlison’s article ‘The Sunday School movement’ in the June issue with great interest and believe that I can add to it on the subject of who started the first Sunday school.
Back in 1971-72 I attended a local history class when I lived in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and here are some notes I made at that time:
Hannah Ball (1733-1792) started the first Sunday school in the country in High Wycombe in 1769.
Hannah was born in the Great House, Naphill, in 1733. Her family came from Stokenchurch and many are buried there. Her father was a yeoman farmer and her brother a lacemaker in High Wycombe. When her brother’s wife died, she went to High Wycombe to look after his children, and it was here that she was converted by John Wesley’s preaching.
John Wesley had started a Sunday school in Savannah, USA, in 1734, and on his return to England travelled and preached throughout the land, passing through High Wycombe in 1736 and 1739. He preached from the Market House, and in the fields nearby, to great crowds. By 1770 he had visited the town on 22 occasions.
Hannah’s diaries record the teachings of John Wesley and early Methodism. She started the first Sunday school in the country in 1769 in her brother ‘s house in Queen’s Square, High Wycombe, which was continued after her death in 1792 by her sister.I believe that Hannah Ball’s diaries have been published.
MRS VIVIEN J ARTHUR
Allendale, Higher Broad Oak Road, West Hill,
Ottery St Mary, Devon EX11 1XJ