Monday, June 29, 2009

I now have 4 birds finished for the Drawspace ATC exchange. All different types of birds. I finished one today from a photo that I took at CALM when hubby and I visited. A little Bluejay. it is the second drawing I have done of the Bluejay. I got several really nice photos of him, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

I have been working on my sister-in-laws genealogy for a couple years now. As I've talked about before on here, her dad died in WWII. He joined the RAF before the US got in the war. His plane was shot down while on a mission in France and he is buried there. I haven't been able to get a death certificate or much information from the RAF. A little difficult doing long distance.

I have spent many hours trying to find information. We know much more than we did but still don't have any information about his childhood or any of his family or life before he met and married my sister-in-law's mom.

I finally got the paperwork together and had her sign all to send for a birth certificate. He was born in Maryland and I found that all birth certificates for Maryland are in one place. I printed off the application and sent all documentation. We don't know his mother's name but do have his dad's first name. Hopefully that and his name and birth date will be enough. He has a pretty unusual middle name so that should make it easier.

Since I took over searching for information, we connected with the English historian for the squadron he was in. He was very kind and sent us a dossier with printouts of the missions and other information including the blueprint of the inside of the plane he was in. He and his wife made a trip to Bakersfield to visit the local airplane museum. We were able to meet them and spend the day with them and another couple and even have lunch.

The other man's uncle was in the same squadron and died two weeks after "our" soldier. He had written a book and brought one for my sister-in-law which included comments and picture of her dad. And the historian had several photos of her dad that she had never seen. She had only a tiny photo of him from a distance squatted down petting an animal. The ones we received showed him standing up and we were able to see how much she looks like him.

Another thing we learned was that he was the only one of the men on his plane to be buried in a single grave. There are two other graves with the other men's names (about 5 men). The historian said that means her dad was the only body they could absolutely identify.

I was online looking for information on his squadron once and happened on someone from Germany looking for information on the one survivor of the plane. He had bailed out and was captured and in a concentration camp. I contacted the man from Germany and gave him what information I had and asked if he had any information on "our" soldier. Well he had a photo of the grave marker for my sister-in-law's dad. What are the chances? He emailed me a copy. So now she has seen his grave, more photos of him, and has the dossier and the book.

Every so often I go back and try to do further research. Each time I seem to find a little more. It's about time for me to go at it again. I hope when we get his birth certificate that it will have information on both his parents so that I can do some more research. I would like to know if he had siblings, cousins, etc. I'm sure his parents are no longer living but who knows who else might be alive. I would also like to find out about how he became a pilot. He had to have been in the service in the US but I haven't been able to get any information about that. And I can't find a marriage license for her parents. There isn't one in this county but they went to Washington DC before he left for England and did some training here and other areas of California.

I was never one to be interested in history. I think I was put off by it at school because we were always having to memorize dates. I also didn't know much about WWII. After the research I have done, it has given me an interest that wasn't there before. I have really enjoyed getting to know more about that war.

A couple things I have found very mother-in-law's (sister-in-law is hubby's sister) birthday is Dec 7th, Pearl Harbor Day. And my sister-in-law's birthday is July 4th. Very patriotic little family.

And now we wait to see if we receive a birth certificate.


pencilportraits said...

Wow Jeanne, what a fantastic story, and fancy seeing a photo of the grave! That must have been beyond any dreams. Keep us informed when you find out some more.

Joan said...

Hope you get the birth certificate.It is amazing what we can do on the internet now! Good luck with the search.

jgr said...

WOW! I'm very intrigued by that story. I hope you get the birth certificate, too.

Azulparsnip said...

this is so amazing how much you have accomplished.....

Teresa said...

Wow, Jeanne... you're a regular genealogy hound! Keep us updated... I love history. I've heard lots of stories about WWII. My parents were kids in England (about 9 and 10 I think) but they well remember the air raids, blackouts, rations and such. Makes for fascinating conversation.