Some Mother's Son
A Family History talk by Peter Ewart. Research and discovery using family, social and military sources after a chance find of an old photograph album.
Friday 9th February 2018 7:30pm - 9:30pm
CWGC commemoration certificate for Gordon William Davey
Our first meeting of 2018 with popular speaker Peter Ewart’s talk entitled ‘Some Mother’s Son’ certainly did not disappoint. Peter’s talk, with slides, told a touching story whilst demonstrating excellent research techniques using family, social and military sources.
Lynne, Peter’s wife, had purchased a family photograph album in a second hand book shop a few years ago.. The pictures in the album were a mixture of professional and family photos dating back to the late Edwardian/ Victorian era. Neither Peter or Lynne knew anything about the family. The album started with the christening of Gordon a 6 month old baby. The album showed him with his family as he grew up and ended in April 1917 with a photo of a wreath on his grave. The album also held a rhyming couplet from a newspaper followed by a photo of his mother, younger brother and a nursing sister.
Peter and Lynne wanted to find out more about Gordon and his family but there was no surname. Where could they start to identify him amongst the 1 million men who had died in the war in 1917? They looked for clues in the photos and found a pond named ‘Kingsmere’ and on his uniform the regimental emblem of the London Scottish battalion. An informal regiment probably stationed in London – so were the family Londoners?
In the London Scottish Regimental Gazette Lynne and Peter found a picture of the family in 1908 with an address - 10 Allfathing Lane – but where? Starting with old A-Z maps of London they found a ‘Kingsmere’ Pond in Wimbledon. At the Guildhall Library in the 1908 electoral lists they found William J Davey. They also found a war grave for his son Gordon in Wandsworth. Dated 31st December 1917 it said he died on the Western Front . Peter sent for Gordon’s death certificate that showed he died of wounds on the Western Front France.
The nursing Sister in the newspaper photo was Marion Nichols. She got into contact with the family when she came over to England and was able to attend the service.
After the war the War Graves Commission saved his grave and a gravestone is now in the Grevillers war cemetery, France. Peter and Lynne decided to visit Gordon’s grave in France to lay a bouquet on his grave.
Peter’s talk was very moving and extremely interesting.
At question time Peter was asked if he had traced other family members? Peter said yes: Gordon’s mother died, in 1924 in Ramsgate, following a stroke. He said that at another talk he met people who knew Gordon’s brother. He died a bachelor in Canterbury in 1990 and a house clearance following his death resulted in the album finding its way to a second-hand book shop in Northgate Canterbury!
Friday 9th March 2018 'How far did our ancestors travel' by Celia Heritage