The Comrades War Memorial, now located in Coronation Park contains the names of 340 men who were killed in action during the First World War. I am proud to say that amongst that number is one of my own ancestors.
Company Quartermaster Sergeant James Makinson of the 12th Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment was killed in action on the 22nd March 1918 during the final German offensive of the war. He had served for nearly the entire conflict, having signed up to fight in September 1914.
James was born in Aughton in 1893, where he lived with his father, also James, his mother, Sarah Ann and three of his four siblings. He attended Ormskirk United Charities School for a period and was listed as a Surveyor’s Assistant on the 1911 Census. Like most of his generation his burgeoning career was cut short by global conflict and only a month or so into the war he was training with the King’s.
James’ unit moved to France in 1915 and he must have been writing regular letters home because his mother Sarah Ann was moved to write to the Ormskirk Advertiser asking the women of the district to knit socks and the like for our troops, her letter also suggesting that she is aware of the cold damp conditions in the trenches.
The 12th King’s had various spells on the front lines throughout the next three years and during one of the last of these James was killed when the German’s made their final gamble to win the war before American troop build up would have made it an impossible task for them. James is buried at Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery in Picardie, France.
All of these details of James’ life are things that I have been able to find out as a result of the wealth of genealogical information that is now available online. It is certainly possible that you too could learn about your own ancestors stories from the First World War without having to leave your house. Personally I have a paid subscription to ancestry.co.uk and would also recommend findmypast.co.uk. You can subscribe to either of these sites on a month-by-month basis, but there are a number of free resources out there too, such as those available on familysearch.org and some of the military records are available on Ancestry with a free account, that also allows you to build a family tree.
If you are related to one of the men on the various war memorials around Ormskirk and Aughton or know of your own families history surrounding this momentous global event then we would be fascinated to hear your story, especially if you also have family photographs that we can include in our virtual reality museum and gallery.
If you are uncertain of your family connection we may be able to help you find out. Our researchers have conducted research into many of the men on various memorials in the past and we hold a considerable amount of information regarding many of them. Contact us if you would like to know more.