This is my genealogical journey. I started as a rank amateur and have become a well-seasoned, but still amateur, genealogist through the years. I'll share techniques that I’ve learned through trial and error, publish excerpts from old letters and journals and show you photographs and documents that relate to my history, and maybe yours. But mostly I’ll tell stories that engaged and entertained me, educated me and that made me a more meticulous and detailed family history researcher.
The 73rd anniversary of the armistice of August
14, 1945 that effectively ended the war with Japan, and, therefore, World War
II, is rapidly approaching. This
has motivated me to give further thought to my own family connections with
World War II.
Joel Dirlam, one of my grandfathers, served in World War II
(my other grandfather had earlier contracted tuberculosis and the loss of part
of one of his lungs precluded him from serving) as did Joel’s first cousin once
removed, John Baxter Black II. You
can read about the vast amount of information I gleaned from my grandfather’s
discharge papers in an earlier blog post here and I’ve written numerous
times about our cousin John Black’s influence on my interest in family history. This is more information about John,
who kept a journal (against all orders!) during his time serving in the War. Although I have not yet reviewed John’s
journal, he cites them in his self-published family history.
The Bombe Codebreaker
Machine - citation below
John’s goddaughter, Diana, recorded a video interview with
John about his time in the war, just a few weeks before he died in 2015. Diana’s parents met in England where her
father-to-be was serving in the American Army as John’s Commanding Officer. Diana’s English mother was working at
Bletchley Park on Turing’s famous Bombe code breaker machine at the time
they met. When they decided to marry, John made all the arrangements for the
service, reception and the transport of bridesmaids to and from the ceremony.
When Diana was born, her parents named John as her godfather. Recently, Diana
asked me for my input on the reading of some of John’s remembrances in the
context of a preamble to her video interview. This prompted me to research what, exactly, John had
committed to paper about his wartime experiences.