It is remembrance day today and feel I should share a personal story. One of my many hobbies is genealogy and few years ago I started researching my family tree. It has been an interesting journey, some of which I’ll share with you in subsequent posts, however, one interesting revelation for me is rather apt for today.
For some time I have had in my posession the wartime medals belonging to my Grandad. My Grandmother decided I should take posession of them as sadly my Grandad had developed demensia and she thought I could be trusted to keep them safe.
Despite having the ownership of them, for a long while, I had little interest in them and had not really looked at them. Now I was researching the family tree, they garnered my interest for the first time.
Other than the Second World War medals of my Grandfather (of which I have also researched), there were a few World War 1 medals, three for my Great Grandfather and namesake James Moran and one for an ‘M Moran’.
Now here’s a little family background. In circa 1880, my family emigrated from Ireland to England. Among several siblings were Matthew and James (my Great Grandfather). Matthew (my Great Grandfather’s brother) married a german girl called Helene. However, Matthew sadly died a young man. Helene remarried, marrying his brother James (my Great Grandfather).
Having this knowledge, I assumed (quite rightly, I believed) the M Moran on the medals was Matthew Moran, however, after a little research, I found Matthew died in 1914 – he was never in the war! So who was M??
A bit of research on the service number etched into the medal produced the answer. The M was for Michael not Matthew, and this man Michael was in the Irish Guards. But who was Michael? The Irish records are somewhat lacking so I had not been able to research any family history in Ireland so he was a mystery to me.
I sent off to get his service record from the Wellington Barracks, London and in a few weeks they arrived back.
Michael was a career soldier, born in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow in 1879, he died in France in the Great War in May 1915, I believe in the Battle of Festubert. I am still researching his life and death and have much to fill in still, however, I feel I know him more than anyone has done in recent history.
As custodian of the war medal he sadly never saw, I feel duty bound and honoured to comemorate the life of this man who died fighting for the freedom from oppression. So I say thank you to Michael and to all those who have fought for the freedoms which we now enjoy.