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.
We were overwhelmed with the number of stories and photos we received via our social media platforms and email.
In honor of today's events, here are some of the stories. We hope that recording them here will help preserve them, along with the memories of the brave men and women, lest we forget.
My uncle, John Denham, was on Convoy Escort Duty on board the HMS Penzance off Nova Scotia during WWII. His ship was attacked by a submarine and Uncle John was killed and went down with his ship and crew.
My great-uncle Flt. Sgt. James Ellis Jones was one of three men who survived when their Halifax was shot down over Germany during a bombing mission. He was taken to a POW camp outside Berlin where the men risked their lives by sneaking over the boundary to get wood. One night, he was spotted going, was shot and wounded, dying three weeks later from peritonitis. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM).
Our genealogy team love challenges – so imagine the reaction of Laurence Harris, MyHeritage's Head of Genealogy (UK), when he was shown a 66-year-old Memorial Board commemorating the names of Servicemen who had died in WWII.
The board had been hidden in a rarely-used storage area for more than 30 years.
The challenge was on! Laurence volunteered to trace living family members of the men so that they could be invited to a special service to remember and honor them and to rededicate the Board.
Laurence took this as both a personal and professional challenge. He recognized the importance of learning about these forgotten heroes of the past, enabling the present generation to honor them, and ensuring that their stories are preserved for future generations.
Along the way, he discovered many interesting stories. Over the next few weeks we'll be sharing with you some of these stories and explaining how Laurence managed to trace the descendants.
Do you have stories to share about unsung war heroes in your family? Let us know in the comments below, and email relevant photos to firstname.lastname@example.org