Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Forgotten Gunners of WW1: A Time Team Special

Delving into family history has been very interesting indeed recently!

I have identified a Great Uncle William Anderson who is somewhat of an enigma. When I initially spoke to living family members about 'The Anderson's' most were very forthcoming with information about the family, however one family member said I would be best not to look too closely into William Anderson..... well.

Me being me, I have decided to, yes, look into William's life a little closer.

Along with other details he joined the 13th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles in 1914, I was informed that he was a dispatch rider and came home safely.... wrong! He did join the 13th Battalion RIR however he transferred to the Machine Gun Corps later in the war. There is a lot to this past relative that is rather private that I won't post, nevertheless his war record is interesting.

Channel 4 are showing: - The Forgotten Gunners of WWI: A Time Team Special, about the creation of the unit, where they trained, etc, and yes Great Uncle William was in this unit. I will be glued to Chanel 4 tomorrow in order to find out a little more about this unit and the kind of  war they fought.

Taken of the Channel 4 Site;
Golfers at a popular East Midlands golf club now know that a huge wooded bank beside their fairway is a rather special area of 'rough'. Time Team's experts discovered, that 90 years ago it was a machine gun firing range - and buried in the bank are tens of thousands of spent bullets.
Belton House near Grantham may be one of Britain's finest stately homes but during World War I, the grounds were home to thousands of men training for front line duties. It was where the Machine Gun Corps was created and its troops were trained.
The Corps was set up as a response to German superiority in using these deadly weapons and became vital to the war effort. Most of the Machine Gun Corps' records were destroyed, first in a fire and then in the Blitz in World War II.
Today almost nothing is visible above ground. Tony Robinson and the Team have quite a task to locate the hundreds of barrack blocks, kitchen blocks, roads, social centres and shooting ranges.
To the Team's relief, the dig is rich in finds, revealing glimpses of the men's lives in wartime; whether from the site of the YMCA, where a cup of cocoa could be had for a few pence, or from the hastily erected huts where they lived for their six weeks of intensive training.
They uncover stories of young men who went so bravely to their deaths. Of the 170,000 who trained here more than 12,000 were killed and another 50,000 injured. The Corps' nickname was 'the Suicide Club'.
The sound of a Vickers gun reverberating around the park for the first time in 90 years provides a shocking but fitting tribute.


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