SECOND WORLD WAR LIVES A Guide For Family Historian – Review by Mark Barnes

A Guide For Family Historians
By James Goulty
Published by Pen & Sword Family History
ISBN: 978 1 84884 502 2

Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online

This handy softback is one of a growing series of books supporting the work of genealogists. The market for this stuff has grown significantly since the huge upsurge in interest in family trees and our past in general since the advent of several well-known websites and the likes of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are. A mate of mine is a long time aficionado of this sort of thing and has traced his ancestors back well into the 17th Century. I picked up the reins from where my late aunt left off and managed to work out my lot of Barneses back to the mid 18th. They were a fairly steady lot in the London building trade for a couple of hundred years, but wars changed everything. Fighting the enemy gave them mobility and new horizons – aside from coming back alive and in one piece. Sadly, not all of them achieved this.

In this book we get a set of potted biographies of a wide ranging group of people who served in the armed forces during the war. They are accompanied by an explanation of which official records to search in for details of their service and guidance in how to do it. The chapters on the people themselves make a nice read and the plain fact is you can see your granny or granddad in the book without much difficulty. If you’re in middle age like me you might even think of your own parents as well.

This is an entertaining and practical guide and others in the extensive range will take you to other wars and other walks of life. They do the job. This is classic Christmas stocking stuff and what’s not to like for under thirteen quid?

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.