Monday, April 3, 2017

Ancestry.ca Oops, I did it again!

So I renewed my membership with Ancestry.ca.  And I've disappeared from my blog!  It is so bloody addictive! Yesterday I found my grandfather's WW1 Personnel File - all 93 pages of it. Most of it is handwritten and a lot of that is illegible. I've had to get creative while trying to decipher it all - of course most of it was written by doctors as my grandfather was discharged due to medical reasons. And you know doctors have the worst handwriting!

A few months before he enlisted in October, l915, Lorne received a bullet in his right shoulder in a hunting accident. He was immediately operated on but the bullet wasn't found. We're talking over a hundred years ago. Once overseas he spent a lot of time in hospitals for rubella (had to be isolated) and chronic bronchitis. The cure was "fresh air"!

In a weakened condition he found that carrying his pack made his arm go numb and he had "slight difficulty throwing bombs and engaging in bayonet fighting". Just slightly a problem!! I'm surprised they didn't throw him at the Germans anyway - they threw every other Canadian into no man's land during Vimy Ridge. That was a big victory for Canadians fighting in France however, thousands upon thousands of Canadian men died. Behind the lines Lorne acted as a runner and an orderly.

As his health continued to deteriorate he was sent to London General Hospital where it was determined he had lost partial function of several internal organs and partial function of his shoulder and knee (bursitis).  Finally an x-ray was taken (included in his file) showing the bullet still lodged in the right side of his chest. Because of its proximity to certain things undecipherable to my eye it was advised not to remove the bullet. Instead they gave him a medical discharge. I am just flabbergasted that I can look at and handle a copy of his x-ray showing the bullet in his chest.

I never met my grandfather, he died when my mother was only 7, yet I've seen inside his chest. I've listened to his words.  I feel like I know him now. The wonder of the internet!

When I think of WW1 I think of mud-filled trenches, lice, death and disease. Yet in the middle of all the muck hundreds if not thousands of men were going about their day-to-day business of keeping meticulous records on hundreds of thousands of men. It boggles the mind.

3 comments:

Kim said...

That is such a cool story. When I retire from teaching in 2 years and 38 days, I'd like to do some genealogy. How difficult is it to navigate ancestry.com?

SAM said...

There are interesting stories in our past, for sure.

Holly said...

That is unreal - no wonder you went MIA. I love looking up my ancestry!