23    Nov 20123 comments

Hidden Memorial: Honoring fallen heroes – Part 2

Recently, we wrote about the discovery of a memorial board - listing the names of 11 WWII servicemen - that had been hidden for 3o years in a communal building's basement.

Laurence Harris, MyHeritage's Head of Genealogy (UK), led a small team to quickly trace the living relatives of these men who were killed in action, to invite the relatives to a ceremony on Remembrance Sunday, in which the board was rededicated and their stories retold.

Over the next few weeks, we'll demonstrate how Laurence was able to do this, while sharing some of the stories of these unsung war heroes.

Flight Sergeant Joseph Shaer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR).

Joseph (also known as “Joey”) was a son of Samuel and Clara Shaer, and attended Raines Foundation School. He enlisted in 1940 and trained to be a navigator. He was attached to 540 Squadron operating Mosquito aircraft from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. On April 13, 1944, his Mosquito sustained fatal damage from enemy fire. The plane almost made it back, but crashed near his base in Oxfordshire. Joseph was 24.

Flight Sergeant Joseph Shaer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR).

Flight Sergeant Joseph Shaer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR).

To find Joey's relatives, Laurence enlisted the assistance of some members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (JGSGB).  They worked collaboratively using MyHeritage family tree software to build up a family tree, and to record and share research findings on Joseph’s family, with the aim of tracing living relatives.

Sources of information searched included the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, indexes of birth, marriage and deaths (available on MyHeritage's SuperSearch), electoral rolls, phone directories, and the Jewish Chronicle newspaper archives.

As the collaborative tree grew, a rather unusual surname of Tarl appeared as being related to the family. Further searches using these sources revealed contact details for a member of the Tarl family who confirmed that he was a nephew of Joseph, and provided a lot of interesting materials including pages of Joseph’s Flying Log book including the final entry written in (presumably by a colleague) “Aircraft Crashed … Killed in Action.”

“This proves the power of collaborative research,” commented Laurence. “What we achieved in just a few days would have taken significantly longer, and may not even have been possible, without the collaborative research facilities possible using MyHeritage Family Sites. It was gratifying that living relatives were found for all of the 11 Servicemen very quickly enabling them to be invited to the ceremony.”

Do you have stories to share about unsung war heroes in your family? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I had wonderful results from a collaborative research also. I didn't know anything about a UK family member until contacted by a researcher in the UK (I'm in Australia) asking for information. The researcher had been searching for two years regarding an Uncle who was KIA in WW2 with his crew on a Lancaster Bomber - his research had come to a dead end.

    My family member was one of the crew and through my own research with My Heritage and smart matching, I found more information that re-started the other researcher and provided plenty of information for both of us.

    Amazingly enough I found a sister of one of the Bomber crew who was still alive today. There is a 18 year age difference between the brother and sister and this is why she is still living.

    Not only did she have photo's of the crew that were taken when they visited her mother, we also had her valuable and special memories, even though she was only very young at the time.

    I've found that my family member was not only just with the RAF but also that they were one of the first squadrons of the elite Path Finder group which made such a difference, and many sacrifices, to the success of winning in the air WW2.
  2. I am happy that those fallen heroes were found and that My Heritage's the head of the geneology (UK)took this positive step to bringing those fallen heroes back to their family.I have had two family members who were also in ww2 ,one of these member their sibbings family got blown up in ww2.I am not sure if the bodies were recover.
    I am anew member of My heritage family tree and so far I am enjoying what information I am give.Keep up the good work in helping us to know about our ancestors.
  3. Surprised to see my name on Google and my comment on the fallen heroes. It was also informative to read about History of Holland House which Mrs Diana Beswick (Day) was a part in helping to writing this book, by Christine Collins.

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