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Tracing your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Janice Tait and David Fletcher

Tracing your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Janice Tait and David Fletcher


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Tracing your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Janice Tait and David Fletcher

Tracing your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Janice Tait and David Fletcher

This book combines two elements. Each chapter begins with a history of the development of the main British armoured forces, from the origins of the tank in the First World War, through the great expansion of the Second World War and on to the unit mergers and shrinkages of the post-war world. The second part of each chapter looks at the resources available for the family historian, including original archives, published records and historical works and the increasingly important online world.

The book is quite tightly focused on the force that evolved into the Royal Tank Corps, and then the Royal Armoured Corps. Other units that used tanks, such as the Guards Armoured Division, are mentioned in passed, but not covered in detail.

The historical element is useful in its own right, tracing the evolution of British armoured units from their naval origins, through the expansion during the First World War, the restricted inter-war years and the even greater expansion of the Second World War.

The family history element comes at the end of each chapter, and covered the same time period. The book has been produced in association with the Tank Museum at Bovington, and so its authors really know their stuff. A wide range of resources are discussed, from original documents, through published histories and on to the increasingly important websites.

This is a nicely focused work on family history, and also a useful guide to the evolution of British armoured forces.

Chapters
1 - Under the White Ensign
2 - The Way In
3 - The Royal Tank Corps 1923-1939
4 - The Second World War
5 - Post 1945 - The New World 1945-1960
6 - Options for Change 1960-1990

Appendix: Second World War Royal Armoured Corps Regiments

Author: Janice Tait and David Fletcher
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 208
Publisher: Pen & Sword Family History
Year: 2011



Tracing your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Janice Tait and David Fletcher - History

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If you want to find out about the career of a soldier who served in tanks, are researching medals awarded to a tank crew member or just want to know more about a particular regiment squadron or operation, this book will point you in the right direction.

Assuming that the reader has little prior knowledge of the history of British armoured forces, Janice Tait and David Fletcher trace their development from their formation during the First World War, through the Second World War and on to their role as an essential part of the British army of the present day. Most important, they demonstrate how you can explore this history for yourself. They describe the records that are available and show how they can help you to reconstruct the career of a soldier who served in tanks or was connected with them. They also describe the kind of work the soldiers did, the armoured vehicles they worked with, and the men and women they served alongside.

This accessible, information-packed introduction to the history of British armoured forces will be essential reading and reference for anyone who is researching this aspect of military history.

This work focuses solely on those who have served in tanks and not least of its recommendations is David Fletcher’s authorship. His expertise as historian of the Bovington Tank Museum’s is unquestionable, and in this work he is ably assisted by Janice Tait, the museum’s librarian and a keen family historian.
Certainly this work helps tape the route and mark the minefields for those seeking information about the men who served in tanks through eight decades in seven usefully illustrated chapters.

The Western Front Association, Stand To! No 94

“…it begins by looking at why the tank was needed and its development through both wars and up to the present day, It gives a comprehensive history of the battles where it featured and where to find the records as well as advice to researching the personnel who took part. A wealth of information for those with this particular interest.

West Middlesex Family History Society, March 2012

You might be forgiven for thinking that none of your ancestors were ‘tanks’, but all teasing about this book’s title aside, this is of course a guide to learning about the careers of soldiers who serviced in the Tank Corps. It is produced in association with the Tank museum in Dorset, where both of the co-authors work.
Tracing your Tank Ancestors is useful if you want to know more about a particular tank squadron, regiment or operation. As such, it includes advice on researching the various medals awarded to tank crew members.

Your Family Tree, Feb 2012

The historical element is useful in its own right, tracing the evolution of British armoured units from their naval origins, through the expansion during the First World War, the restricted inter-war years and the even greater expansion of the Second World War.
The family history element comes at the end of each chapter, and covered the same time period. The book has been produced in association with the Tank Museum at Bovington, and so its authors really know their stuff. A wide range of resources are discussed, from original documents, through published histories and on to the increasingly important websites.
This is a nicely focused work on family history, and also a useful guide to the evolution of British armoured forces.

History of War

“This latest guide from Pen and Sword’s sries specifically for family historians offer a concise history of British armoured units alongside advice on how to trace the careers of soldiers who served in tanks. It contains essential information on major archives, museums, websites and other sources for tracing your tank serviceman.”

Family Tree Magazine, Nov 2011

“Copiously illustrated with photographs from the collection at the Tank Museum, the guide also features a useful appendix that lists all the regiments that served in the RAC in the Second World War. This book is sure to become the prime source for genealogists researching tank ancestors, as well as being a worthy addition to the bookshelves of anyone who has a wider interest in the subject.”

Who Do You Think You Are? Nov 2011

If you want to find out about the career of a soldier who served in tanks are researching medals awarded to a tank crew member or just want to know more about a particular regiment, squadron or operation, this book will point you in the right direction.

This accessible, information packed introduction to the history of British armoured forces will be essential reading and reference for anyone who is researching this aspect of military history.

Kent Family History Society Journal, Dec 2011

If you want to find out about the career of a soldier who served in tanks, are researching medals awarded to a tank crew member, or want to know more about a particular unit or operation, this book, written by a pair of authors with unparalleled knowledge, ill point you in the right direction

Britain at War, November 2011

Family history research is bringing people face to face with military history for the first time,” David said. “But as the memories of two world wars fade, the average family history researcher often has very little to go on – other than that they served in `the tanks`. This book has allowed us to deal with a lot of the questions we are frequently asked, and explain to readers exactly how to go about tracing their tank ancestors.”

”What makes tracing an ancestor’s military heritage so difficult is the terminology – which to the ordinary citizen is all but impenetrable. The difference between battalions, regiments, divisions and corps can be difficult for the casual researcher to unpick and what can be even more confusing is the changing nomenclature of the tank arm along with the many regimental mechanisations and amalgamations that have taken place since World War One,” he added.

The new book promises to explain, clarify and demystify the subject for the ordinary family historian. It contains practical guidance and provides a flavour of what tank warfare was like in times past by including some stories and accounts from individuals – the kind of things that others tracing their family history have discovered

The Tank Museum

… I applaud Pen and Sword for collaborating with the Tank Museum. It makes sense, in ters of accessing unparalleled expertise, and also gaining access to an unrivalled collection of photographs. This book will be of interest to all military historians, not just in terms of family history – I can imagine it coming in handy when researching any tank-servicemen. It’s going to stay on my bookshelf that’s for sure

Daly History Blog

David Fletcher is the historian at the Tank Museum. He is one of the foremost experts on the history of British tanks and armoured vehicles. Among his many books are The British Tanks 1915-19, Tanks and Trenches: First Hand Accounts of Tank Warfare in the First World War and a series of studies of the key tanks of the two world wars

Janice Tait is the librarian at the Tank Museum, responsible for the archive. Having a keen interest family history research, Janice handles the many family history enquiries that arrive in the archive almost on a daily basis.


TRACE YOUR TANK FAMILY HISTORY

The project was undertaken following the growth in recent years of family history related enquiries in the Museum’s Archive and Library.

“Family history research is brining people face to face with military history for the first time,” David Fletcher said. “But as the two world wars fade into history, the average family history researcher often has very little to go on – other than that they served in `the tanks`. This book has allowed us to deal with a lot of the questions we are frequently asked, and explain to readers exactly how to go about tracing their tank ancestors.”

”What makes tracing an ancestor’s military heritage so difficult is the terminology – which to the ordinary citizen is all but impenetrable. The difference between battalions, regiments, divisions and corps can be difficult for the casual researcher to unpick and what can be even more confusing is the changing nomenclature of the tank arm along with the many regimental mechanisations and amalgamations that have taken place since World War One,” he added.

The new book promises to explain, clarify and demystify the subject for the ordinary family historian. It contains practical guidance and provides a flavour of what tank warfare was like in times past by including some stories and accounts from individuals – the kind of things that others tracing their family history have discovered.

For more on the first tank crews, have a look at our products below.


Access to the following resources from within the library is free of charge:

Ancestry Library Edition
Discover your family history and build a family tree with the world’s largest genealogy website. Search birth records, census data, obituaries and more free from any South Ayrshire Libraries computer.

FindMyPast
The library has taken out a subscription to Find my Past which enables users to have free access to English and Welsh records and the Scottish Census using the PCs in the department.

Births, Marriages and Deaths from the Ayr Advertiser 1803-1885
This online index is a joint project between South Ayrshire Council Libraries Service and Opportunities in Retirement Family History Group Ayr.

Scotsman Historical Newspapers Archive (1817 – 1950)
Find significant moments in the history of Scotland, or discover if your ancestor appears in our births, marriages and deaths notices.

Scotlandspeople Vouchers – Are available to buy in the department and can be used in the library and at home. Starter vouchers £7.00 for 60 credits Top ups £5.60 for 30 credits.

First World War Genealogical books for loan

Tracing your First World War ancestors using local newspapers

The Local and Family History department in Carnegie Library also holds the local newspapers covering the conflict, lists of casualties, deaths and distinctions that were published in increasing numbers as the war progressed.


Tracing your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Janice Tait and David Fletcher - History

Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA (Kindle)

A Guide for Family Historians

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DNA research is one of the most important and rapidly advancing areas in modern science and the practical use of DNA testing in genealogy is one of its most exciting applications. Yet there is no recent British publication in this field. That is why this accessible, wide-ranging introduction is so valuable. It offers a clear and practical way into the subject, explaining the scientific discoveries and techniques and illustrating with case studies how it can be used by genealogists to gain an insight into their ancestry.

The subject is complex and perhaps difficult for traditional genealogists to understand but, with the aid of this book, novices who are keen to take advantage of it will be able to interpret test results and use them to help answer genealogical questions which cannot be answered by documentary evidence alone. It will also appeal to those with some experience in the field because it places the practical application of genetic genealogy within a wider context, highlighting its role as a genealogical tool and suggesting how it can be made more effective.

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Nuneaton & North Warwickshire Family History Society Journal, September 2020

I wish this book had been around about four years ago when I was struggling to find my granddad. It was DNA which finally helped me to solve a 25-year-old brick wall. Just imagine - I spent my time advising others on their family history but I couldn't find my own grandfather, who came from Ireland, even though I knew him in real life. However, the advent of DNA research gave me hope.

This book is ideal for serious genealogists who are getting to grips with DNA. It explains how to decide which test to take and how to interpret the results. It might seem a bit of a heavy tome at first, but if you drill down into the detail, the explanations are clearly understood.

Gay Oliver, Family History Society of Cheshire, June 2020

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Review by

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As featured in

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See the full Instagram review here

Hisdoryan, Claire Miles

The book is as enthusiastic as it is informative. Perfect for reading for enjoyment, referring to time and again, and equipping yourself with the knowledge you need to access all that DNA has to offer on your ancestral hunt.

Family Tree, November 2019

Overall, an essential addition to the library for anyone serious about using DNA testing in family history research, that benefits from having contributions from some of the experts in the field on the different types of DNA.

Read the full review here

Professional Family History

Featured in

Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Society

Featured in

Glamorgan Family History Society

"For those simply fascinated by military history and the factors that shaped military campaigns and their outcomes, this is a meticulous and highly readable account that, 55 years after its first publication, absolutely stands up to the test of time."

Reviewed by Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group

Graham S Holton featured as expert part of Jonathan Scott article in 'Best Websites' feature

WDYTYA? magazine October 2019

'New guides for family historians'

Family Tree, October 2019

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WDYTYA? Magazine, August 2019 – reviewed by Jonny Perl

At just £14.99 for the paperback edition, a fraction of the cost of even one DNA test, this book is likely to prove a very worthwhile investment - wherever you are on the spectrum between the enthusiasts who trying to persuade as many as possible of their living relatives to test, and the sceptics who are still trying to make up their mind whether it’s all hocus-pocus.

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Lost Cousins

Featured in

East Yorkshire Family History Society

Featured in

Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society

I was impressed by how I came away having learnt a lot, even though it is a quite complex subject to tackle. I will admit, however, that it did need some careful reading in some cases before I experienced a number of those “light-bulb” moments when I realised that I now understood more about Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA.

Recommended for anyone thinking of doing a test – this is an informative volume that most will find interesting to read.

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The Nosey Genealogist

The first of its kind, "Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide for Family Historians" is as thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation as it is invaluable as a complete and comprehensive course of instruction in the role DNA can play for family historians and genealogists. While absolutely and emphatically recommended as an indispensable core addition to personal, professional, community and academic library Genealogy instructional reference collections.

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This is the key text that the genealogy community has been waiting for.

Not only does it cover all the ground, but it does so in a way that is readily understandable and bedded in genealogy. The language was very appropriate and it introduced new topics and terminology in ways that enable to reader to keep up and follow what was being said.

Congratulations to the editor and contributing authors.

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This is a complex read, but well worth making the effort to further my understanding about DNA testing for family history purposes. The book is presented as a series of papers by experts in the various fields, explaining the differences, science, meaning and background to the various DNA tests currently available. I found I had to read and digest it a chapter at a time, but am very happy that I have read it. Having tested my immediate family through Ancestry DNA and now beginning to meet up with relatives who share my DNA, I now have a greater understanding of the tests. If you haven't yet chosen a DNA test provider, this book would help you to choose the most appropriate one for your needs. Interesting, informative read.

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Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA referenced in Make The Most Of Your DNA Matches article for

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John Cleary is lecturer at Heriot-Watt University with specialist interest in Y-DNA and ancient DNA.

About Graham S Holton

Graham S. Holton (editor) is principal tutor in the University of Strathclyde&rsquos Postgraduate Programme in Genealogical Studies, co-author of Discover Your Scottish Ancestry: Internet and Traditional Resources and leader of the Battle of Bannockburn and Declaration of Arbroath Family History Projects. John Cleary is lecturer at Heriot-Watt University with specialist interest in Y-DNA and ancient DNA. Michelle Leonard is a professional genealogist and DNA detective specializing in unknown ancestor mysteries. Alasdair F. Macdonald is a lead tutor in the University of Strathclyde&rsquos Postgraduate Programme. Iain McDonald is an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester and specialist in the advanced analysis of Y-DNA for genealogy.

About Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard is a professional genealogist and DNA detective specializing in unknown ancestor mysteries.

About Alasdair F Macdonald

Alasdair F. Macdonald is a lead tutor in the University of Strathclyde&rsquos Postgraduate Programme.

Iain McDonald is an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester and specialist in the advanced analysis of Y-DNA for genealogy.


Tracing Your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

If you want to find out about the career of a soldier who served in tanks, are researching medals awarded to a tank crew member or just want to know more about a particular regiment squadron or operation, this book will point you in the right direction.

Assuming that the reader has little prior knowledge of the history of British armoured forces, Janice Tait and David Fletcher trace their development from their formation during the First World War, through the Second World War and on to their role as an essential part of the British army of the present day. Most important, they demonstrate how you can explore this history for yourself. They describe the records that are available and show how they can help you to reconstruct the career of a soldier who served in tanks or was connected with them. They also describe the kind of work the soldiers did, the armoured vehicles they worked with, and the men and women they served alongside.

This accessible, information-packed introduction to the history of British armoured forces will be essential reading and reference for anyone who is researching this aspect of military history.

Contents:
Introduction
1. Under the White Ensign
2. The Way In
3. The Royal Tank Corps 1923-1939
4. The Second World War
5. Post 1945 - The New Worls 1945-1960
6. Options for Change 1960-1990
Appendix: Second World War Royal Armoured Corps Regiments
Index


094: May 2012

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Notes

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The British Army of the Rhine

My recent trip to the Nord Rhein Westfalen region of Germany has got me thinking about the role that British forces played in that part of the world for many years during the Cold War. I wrote an article on this subject some time ago, submitted to Britain at War (and apparently vanished into their ether). Sadly it disappeared on a crashed and rebooted PC, so I have to re-write from memory.

21st Army Group ended the War occupying large portions of Northern Germany, from the Dutch border across to the Baltic, with Montgomery receiving the German surrender on Luneberg Heath. Although initially the British Army was very much an occupation force, and involved in de-Nazification and keeping the Germans to heel, as the Soviets became more and more confrontational, western military doctrine in Germany focussed more on keeping the Russians out than keeping the Germans down. The Berlin Airlift, the creation of West Germany and the Deutsche Mark and the formation of NATO polarised the former allies across either side of the Iron Curtain.

British forces in Germany from the late 1940’s onwards were under no illusions that they were there to face the Russians. British Land Forces in Germany came under the command of the British Army of the Rhine. The Commander-in-Chief of BAOR also served as the commander of NATO’s northern Army Group, and as such had Dutch and German units under command in the event of war. British Air Forces in Germany came under the command of RAF Germany.

In the event of the Balloon going up, the BAOR was to face the Soviet 3rd Shock Army. Intelligence reports suggest that the BAOR was heavily outnumbered and seriously in danger of being rolled over very quickly – a likelihood that was not lost upon British squaddies. Documents I have discovered in the National Archives also suggest that there were very few reinforcements available for BAOR – pretty much a few TA Battalions, and two TA SAS Regiments for special forces work. And these units would take days to arrive by air and sea. And from 1969 onwards, the troubles in Northern Ireland proved a constant drain upon manpower in the BAOR. Evacuation of casualties and civilians would be almost impossible due to the lack of transport. But for the first time in British military history, the Army was at the forefront of British defence policy and strategy.

Thousands of British men – and indeed women in children – spent some of the most formative part of their lives in Germany. Imagine the experience a young 19 year old might enjoy being posted to a strange country, going abroad for the first time, and to a country that until relatively recently was the enemy. Only to find that actually, the German Beer and Food is quite to his liking! No wonder many former servicemen look back on their time in Germany so fondly.

Places such as Celle, Hohne, Herford, Hameln, Krefeld, Bielefeld, Paderborn, Detmold, Lippstadt, Sennelager, Soltau, Fallingbostel, Osnabruck and Minden became almost as well known to the British Army as Aldershot, Colchester, Salisbury Plain, Tidworth, Winchester and Catterick. Whole parts of Germany were occupied by thousands of Brits, in virtually exclusive British settlements, on base and off base.

At its height BAOR consisted of over 50,000 men. Add to that the amount of women, children, civilian workers et al, and then consider the turnover of troops every few years, and its no wonder that so many people experienced life in Nord-Rhein Westfalen and Niedersachsen. This experience probably went a long way to establishing Anglo-German relations again after the war.

British Forces in Germany have been in the process of winding down since the end of the Cold War. Few garrisons remain, concentrated mainly around Paderborn and Fallingbostel. There is no military reason for the British Army to be in Germany, but we still have access to some excellent training facilities and the Germans like having us. Indeed, during the Cold War the West German Government paid part of the Army’s basing costs. And until recently, it was cheap to base units in Germany.

Eventually – by 2020 – the British Army in Germany will be nothing more than a memory. We have to hope that this period of history is not lost, simply because the Cold War never became hot. Im particularly interested in the social history of life in BAOR – the human experiences, the impact of living in a foreign country on men, women and children. Sadly the excellent BAOR locations website seems to have gone offline, which is a real pity.


Tracing Your Prisoner Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Stephen Wade

This is part of a very helpful series that has been produced by Pen and Sword. In this volume Stephen Wade guides us into a potentially unfamiliar area of family and local history.

We are introduced to historical methods of imprisonment, and indeed to historical forms of punishment, with excellent local examples from Stephen&rsquos own research to illustrate exactly what might be found.

Instinctively we might imagine that imprisonment would not have been likely to occur in our own families. This probability is turned on its head by the extremely interesting example of the Revd Samuel Wesley, John Wesley&rsquos father, who was imprisoned in Lincoln Gaol in 1705 because of a mischievous allegation of indebtedness. The case is interesting in itself because Samuel Wesley&rsquos diaries reveal the details of prison conditions at that time but also draws us into the political faction fights of the time which had led him to be a victim of a political manoeuvre. This illustrates just how many families might have been touched by the prison system.

Later chapters carefully reveal to us the range of possible offences which might lead to incarceration, along with an exploration of possible sources. In one sense this is all very straightforward but Stephen does provide us with a very clear explanation of what we are likely to find.

This volume guides us into recognising the breadth of what might be encompassed in such sources. Having identified previously that my great-great grandfather William Cater had been arrested in London in the 1870s, at the direction of the overseers of the poor, for neglecting his family, this book provides me with the necessary tools to explore what did happen to my distant relative, and to answer the question of whether or not he was actually a criminal or a victim of circumstances, much like Samuel Wesley.


Watch the video: Tracing Your Family History - How to Get Started (May 2022).