It’s strange where your family history research might lead. I’ve been busy with my other blog, of late, and I have done little on the family history front, however a post on my other blog, from 1915, suggested I had a relative who had died in World War 1 that I didn’t know about. The post is a letter to the Scottish Farmer from Margaret Shanks asking for help raising money for a hospital bed. In this she says “Too many will be like myself in having a painful personal interest in that bloody field”. Now I did not know of any ‘Shanks’ war dead on my side of the family, that is Margaret’s brother Robert my Great Grandfather. However, Margaret did have three other brothers and it turns out her brother James had a son born in 1896 – just the right age for service in WW1.
Douglas Brown Shanks would have been a 1st cousin twice removed. A quick search of the Commonwealth Graves Commission gave me the information I needed. Douglas had been killed on 27 May 1915 Age 19, he had been in the “D” Coy., London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles). It seems like so many he had just been unlucky, his regiment had been fighting in the Battle of Festubert from May 15, 1915 to May 25. So most of the fighting was over when he was killed on the 27 May.
The family were obviously devastated and it prompted Margaret to try and do something. She was successful and they eventually raised enough money for a bed on the Somme, which must have given her great satisfaction.