Category Archives: Family History

World War One Heroes ~ a Personal Tribute

79 Uncle Toms Grave

Uncle Tom’s Grave at Metz

As we arrive at the final days of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One I would like to make a personal tribute to my Grandfather and Great Uncles.

On 6th August 1918 Raymond Jackson (who the family called Tom) of the 3rd Dragoon Guards died as a prisoner of war in Metz Fortress Hospital and was buried at Metz.

75 Tom Capture Death Notification1

My Grandfather Arthur Jackson, born on Guernsey, served on HMS Canada in the Battle of Jutland. He survived WW1. (fortunately for me, otherwise I wouldn’t be here!)

HMS Canada

As a family story goes, Grandpa Jackson’s ship  was in the Mediterranean at one time and docked at Port Said, Egypt. Whilst there Grandpa was told that there was a Jackson in the port hospital. Grandpa visited the man, only to find that it was his brother Great Uncle Earnest Jackson, but unfortunately Ernest had just died.

Did I hear this story when I was a child? I have no idea, but when Dad read ‘Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home’ my second novel, which in one chapter told a similar tale, he quizzed me on it. Just one of those unexplained coincidences!




Filed under Ancasta, Family History, Historical Fiction, The Great War, WW1

We will remember them

DSCN3304[1]For anyone who has family members who fought in The Somme I can recommend a trip to northern France at this time, the 100th anniversary, to show respect and give thanks for the contribution of so many men who gave their lives to try to keep us free from tyranny.

Having walked along small country tracks, treading in the footprints of those men  who lost their lives so tragically, we eventually  reached The Thiepval Memorial, parked and visited the small but informative museum. We made slow progress as we read the many plaques which lined the pathway leading to the memorial arch. Finally we climbed the steps, pausing in the gentle breeze. Gazing upwards, in unity with fellow visitors, we were aware of a silent incomprehensible sense of awe, verging on disbelief, as our eyes scanned the 72,000 or more names of the ‘missing’.DSCN3305[1]

We had done our homework and were able to locate the record of my husband’s great uncle among the dead from The Bedfordshire Regiment on pier and face 2C. His name, already familiar to us from war memorials in Clophill and Ampthill in Bedfordshire, seemed almost insignificant. A life lost. A man taken at the age of only nineteen years in 1916, with a whole life ahead of him cut short. So sad.

DSCN3309[1]I’m not sure how long we paused to reflect. A timeless period when ‘then and now’ seemed one and it was difficult to keep vivid imaginings of battle and bloodshed from disrupting the view of the calm and gentle Normandy countryside.

Our next search, before returning to Arras where we would stay the night, was to find the Adanac Cemetery ~ Canada spelt backwards. It took a while to locate the gravestone of my husband’s other great uncle who lost his life in The Somme. Family have letters from him saying that he is looking forward to coming home. That was just before he died in 1918, aged twenty  seven. It was all the moreDSCN3315[1] poignant to stand beside his actual burial site and we were so aware of how far he was away from his home village of Clophill, which before that time he had never left in his short life.

Then, taking a deep breath we headed to Arras. The squares were full of celebrations for Bastille Day, one with a makeshift beach and games for the children and the other square with tables for alfresco dining with neighbours, friends and family. We ate in our favourite restaurant in the caves under the street, had a good night’s sleep in a local hotel, before awaking to the tragic news of the carnage in Nice. Our hearts were heavy as we headed home.

As we reached Calais, we passed huge barbed wire fences between us and the large immigrant camp. It was difficult not to be filled with despair. Have we learnt nothing in last 100 year that people’s cannot live in harmony and safety even today in our so called civilised society?


Nevertheless I’m glad we made the trip. It was educational and opened our eyes to the futility of war ~ although without a doubt it was a relief to be home again too.

(Diana Jackson has written two books partly set during The Great War.

‘Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home’ is historical fiction, a family saga set between 1910 and 1920 which also reflects the story of early flying boats and sea planes.

‘Murder, Now and Then’ is a mystery of two murders set 100 years apart.)




Filed under Bedfordshire, Family History, Memoirs, The Great War, WW1

Clophill History Discovery Walks by Colin Watt

A friend emailed over the holidays sending me a link to a walk around Clophill he’d enjoyed. Led by my curiosity for everything ‘history’ and ‘countryside’ related I was excited to read one of Colin Watt’s Discovery Walks –  e-leaflets – and I thought it perfect to share this with you, alongside my virtual tour of Bedfordshire.

I knew Colin Watt through a local magazine called Spotlight where he shares interesting snippets he’s gleaned about his local history research. I can recommend these leaflets because they provide up to date information about available pathways in the area and what to look out for en-route from a historical perspective.

You can find the leaflets on this link:

Clophill History – Discovery Walks

It is Walk no 4, Clophill to Haynes, which will take you past many places pertinent to my novel ‘Murder Now and Then’ from the Village Green at Clophill by the Flying Horse and The Green Man, through to The Stone Jug, up the Slade, over the fields to Haynes Church End and passing Haynes Park. From there you take a path to the village of Haynes and passing The Greyhound, or pausing a wee while for lunch, then you find a path across to Appley Corner and Chicksands Wood. This leads back towards the Old Church at Clophill and you are nearly where you began your walk.

I learnt information previous unknown to me, for example about the obelisk, of which I was aware. It was in memory of “George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax,(1716-1771) who was a British statesman of the Georgian era. He helped to found Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia.”

(My great great grandfather was a sea captain who was lost at sea travelling to Nova Scotia back in the middle of the nineteenth century. It is a place I would love to visit, inspired by my father who has been carrying out extensive research about this gentleman, who left my great grandmother an orphan on the island of Alderney. His wife was travelling with him at the time and also perished.)

Returning to Walk 4, if you have read ‘Murder, Now and Then’ you will be walking in footsteps close to many of my characters. If you haven’t yet read it then, if you do the walk you might be inspired to do so. It is a murder mystery with a sense of family and local history.

Here’s a link to  its latest five star review. *****

Available on Kindle and in paperback


Filed under Bedfordshire, Family History, Murder Now and Then, Virtual Tour of Bedfordshire