In the past, it was common for institutions such as schools, railway companies, post offices and even private businesses to create their own war memorials. They remembered those staff who had fallen in the service of their country.
This year, as part of the Royal Armouries commemoration of the Armistice, we decided to research the history of our own families. We wanted to find out how the lives of our grandparents and great grandparents were shaped by the two world wars.
Lindsay Shepherd. Visitor Services Manager, Fort Nelson
I was trying to find out more about my mum’s maternal grandfather as very little was known about him. This grew into finding out about many different family members, including some I never knew existed. I decided to focus my research on my great-great-uncles; Bill and George. Bill’s story is on display in the Royal Armouries museum at Fort Nelson.
I only expected to confirm basic information on different individuals, like where they were born, marriages, children, but there is so much more to it than that. It was amazing to find other living relations we didn’t previously know about and to discover what happened to George. There is now so much more to the family tree than just names and dates of birth.
George and Bill were only young when they joined up. The war changed their lives and their family’s lives greatly and we should always remember that.
Corporal George Ernest Hollis, Royal Garrison Artillery 113 Heavy Battery, Service number 42231
George was my great-great-uncle on my mother’s side of the family.
He was born and raised in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. He was the ninth child of Thomas Hollis, a carpenter/wheelwright, and Emily Packer.
George joined up at the same time and place as his younger brother, Bill, and they fought in the Royal Garrison Artillery 113 Heavy Battery together. Their service numbers are one digit apart.
George was killed on 24 September 1918 during active service.
He is buried in Templeux-Le-Guerard communal cemetery extension and British cemetery. This is recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves site. His name is also listed on the war memorial in Long Hanborough and in the church in Church Hanborough Oxfordshire.
He was awarded the Victory medal, British medal and 1914 Star.
To discover more stories, visit the In Memoriam exhibition at the Leeds museum and at Fort Nelson.