There are countless books available both as paper books and as ebooks which give advice on researching your family tree and hunting down your ancestors. I've read several but one I found particularly useful was Tracing Your Second World War Ancestors by Simon Fowler.
I wrote about this book on one of my other blogs after I'd borrowed it from my local public library. Recently I've been Spring Cleaning my computer and deleting out-of-date files and generally getting it back into some semblance of order. One of my favourite mottos is "A place for everything and everything in its place". I always thought this could be attributed to the first domestic goddess Mrs Beeton but I found out recently that I'm wrong. It was actually an American, the Reverend Charles Augustus Goodrich (1790 - 1862) who coined the phrase in an article he wrote in 1827 entitled "Neatness". Any of my former colleagues would laugh out loud at my recently found orderliness. They would say my favourite motto was "A tidy desk is the sign of a sick mind." Anyway, during the Big Clean-Up I re-read my comments about Tracing Your Second World War Ancestors and thought it might be useful to point up the book because I'd certainly found it to be a useful and informative guide.
When I was researching my dad's Second World War service it was quite straightforward to get hold of his records in the Fleet Air Arm from the Royal Navy Archives. There was a form and instructions that could be downloaded from the Internet and when completed sent off in the post with a cheque for £30. After a wait of several weeks the available information was returned and although incomplete was still fascinating.
In his book Simon Fowler guides you through a whole range of potential sources for all the UK Armed Services including the Royal Navy and even some of the civilian roles. For example, he gives information about researching ancestors who might have been Bevin Boys including some interesting weblinks.
My grandfather was a coal miner and was required to continue in that occupation during WW2. Simon Fowler records how the Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin, told the first cohort of newly recruited coal miners that the war effort required 720,000 miners who would have to work flat out to produce the tonnage of coal that was needed. During the course of the war 50,000 recruits (a staggering 10% of all 18 – 25 year old draftees) became Bevin Boys.
My dad, Norman Buckle, left school and started working for the local Council in October 1940. Although he was brought up in a coal mining village he didn’t intend to follow his father, grandfather and great grandfather down the pit. He wasn’t drafted as a Bevin Boy because he volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy as soon as he was old enough.
Simon Fowler’s book put me onto The Fleet Air Arm Archive for job descriptions for technical and support staff. There is a wealth of information on this site for anyone who is researching World War II ancestors who served in this branch of The Royal Navy.
I think the book might be currently out of print but there is a page at Waterstone's with all the details. If you're interested it might be worth checking out your local public library's catalogue to see if they have it because I think it's well worth a look.
Alternative Book of the Week #3
When I started my social media journey in 2012 I kept looking at Twitter and although it appealed I couldn't make much sense of the instructions and kept putting off taking the plunge because I didn't want to make a complete idiot of myself in such a public space. Then I stumbled on Become Really Effective on Twitter in Just 5 Days by Andrew Knowles.
I followed the steps in the book each day and by the end of the five days I "got" it. Now there's hardly a day passes when I don't enjoy a bit of tweeting. There's a new version of the book available for 2014 which has more case studies in it. I don't know how essential they are but for less than £3 as an ebook I think this remains good value. If you take a look at the free sample on the Amazon site you'll easily be able to tell if this is the right book for you.
If you want to read Kindle books but don't want the expense of buying a Kindle, just go to this page on the Amazon site and download the free app for your preferred device.