People wish they had asked their relatives about their lives while they were still alive.
People wish they had asked relatives more about their life when they were alive – after discovering an interesting story once they had passed.
In the lead up to Remembrance Sunday, a study of 2,000 people found 53 per cent have learned something they hadn’t previously known about a family member after they had passed away.
The stories of their wartime experiences (29%), their childhood (28%), and where they’d been (23%) were some of the discoveries.
Stories were discovered by talking to relatives (49%) and with extended family (45%).
51% of those who discovered information about their relatives’ lives said it left them with more questions, while 45% felt closer to their family.
The research, commissioned by Ancestry.co.uk, found a further 43 per cent discovered a revelation when clearing out their relative’s home.
25% regret not talking to their relatives more about wartime stories, and 22% would love to hear a war-related story from their family history.
To inspire people to discover their own stories, the family history brand teamed up with poet Nikita Gill this Remembrance to create an emotive new poem, ‘Who You Are’ – recounting some of the untold personal experiences from the First and Second World Wars found in records found on Ancestry.
Nikita Gill said: “Both my grandfathers were in the Indian Army during the Second World War, so I felt like I had a real connection to the subject matter.
“I wanted to do justice to the stories of ordinary people who lived during a time of great change and uncertainty.
“My experience of using the wealth of UK and Ireland wartime records available on Ancestry as inspiration demonstrated how even the simplest of records can tell such interesting and poignant stories.”
Keep special stories alive
Simon Pearce, military history expert at Ancestry, said: “Britain’s wartime history is full of fascinating accounts that shed light on how our ancestors once lived, and yet there are still so many stories to be discovered.
“In fact, our research highlights how many people have unearthed a story about their own family’s history after a relative has passed, showcasing the importance of having those discussions now to ensure these stories live on.”
Research also revealed that such discoveries made people feel intrigued (32%), shocked (26%), or proud (25%).
The top things that relatives received after their deaths were photos (28%), physical heirlooms (19%) and letters (19%).
39% of those surveyed said they don’t know trench poetry, which was a collection of poems written by soldiers in the First World War to share their experiences.
Yet 31 per cent feel finding their ancestors’ creative writing would help them feel closer to them.
Over a fifth (22%) would love to uncover a family story that is related to war in their history.
While 21 per cent admitted that although they know their family member was alive during the war and served, they don’t know what role they played.
Other topics Brits wish they’d discussed more with loved ones included the hobbies they had growing up (20 per cent), what jobs they had (19 per cent) and where they met their partner (19 per cent).
And when it comes to their ancestors’ experiences of wartime, people would be interested to know how their family members found rationing (18 per cent), the role they played (22 per cent) and who else they met during that time (17 per cent).
29% would love to hear a family story about life on the frontline, while 29% would like to know about a wartime love story.
More than 40 per cent of those polled via OnePoll admitted they don’t really know their family’s history.
Ancestry.co.uk is offering free access to billions of UK and Ireland wartime records from November 4th – 8th to help people discover their own family wartime stories.
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