Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Project - An Introduction

My Silent Hero is offered to help YOU find the story of a family member who served Australia during the First World War (WW1).

The project is not intended to provide a full biography of these mostly forgotten people; there are many fine historians and writers who can, and do, perform that role. What we do offer, however, is an outline of a person's service history and their life before and after the war .

"My Silent Hero" had its beginnings as "The Silent Hero Project", some 5 years ago. It has evolved, very slowly, into a process to address particular groups of service men and women, as well as individuals.  Concentrating on the First World War, this project worked, initially, on a chap called John Bernard Reilly (see more) and will move to looking at some of Jack's Mates (as mentioned in his diary) when time and funding permits. A memorial in the entrance to the headquarters of Australian Customs in Canberra attracted our attention and became an assignment of its own. This is progressing slowly as very little is known of the people involved. For example, in the case of the Customs assignment, the only information available were the surname and initials of the servicemen, together with the fact that, at the time of their enlistment, they were employed by Australian Customs or one of its sub-agencies. It is entirely possible that not all personnel will be satisfactorily identified.

In the case of My Silent Hero, however, it is hoped that the involvement of family members may simplify the process of discovery through the provision of more background information.  While our work thus far has been voluntary, we have decided to charge for services to individual enquirers in order to raise funds to enable more research.  At some point we may also seek donations to further this project. There are, after all, more than a third of a million names to recognise.

Consider this, in Mudgee NSW  there is a memorial to those who served during the WW1 with the name "A Smith" engraved upon it.  The National Archives of Australia (NAA) list 5253 "Smiths" in their record of WW1 service personnel, including 383 with the initial "A". Now, a researcher is going to have serious problems with that.  On the other hand, if we knew that "A Smith" was actually,say, Athol Edward Smith, that he was born around 1885 in Hargraves NSW, that his father was Edward Smith and mother Constance Smith, then we can stand a much better chance.  If we also knew that he was a fettler on the railway and that he had a brother, George, who also enlisted, we could be much more confident of success in identifying the correct chap. (The entry on the Mudgee memorial is real, as is the NAA information. The "Smith" details are fictitious and for illustrative purposes only.)

In seeking to put together the stories of our "silent heroes", our researchers will use their knowledge of where to find the most useful publicly available material (free or otherwise). We also subscribe, at the highest level, to the best genealogy websites. All our research is conducted online in order to provide you with the best possible result at the lowest possible cost.

In his novel, The Blind Man's Garden, Nadeem Aslam begins with the sentence, "History is the third parent." At My Silent Hero, we believe that knowing our family story is vital in our understanding of who we are.  Our story has many strands and is not always perfect.  It is, however, real and by knowing it we will understand that we do, in fact, belong.

1 comment:

  1. Now I understand - I was a little confused before - much better!

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