Genealogical Ponderings

the Professional Family History Blog

Professional Family History Blog
  1. The Tower of London – the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”

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    In my last post I wrote about the military career of my great x 2 uncle, Cyril Frank Cowling.

    Many of you will have seen pictures of the poppies being installed at The Tower of London in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the First World War, the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.

    The anniversary may now have come and gone but you can still dedicate a poppy to your own relatives here:

    or even buy one of the poppies to be sent to you when the display is dismantled:

    10% of all funds raised will go to a number of selected charities including Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.

    Until 10th November the Last Post will be played at the Tower of London at sunset each day and the names of a number of those in the Commonwealth forces who were killed in the First World War read out during the ceremony.

    To have your own relative included in theĀ  ceremonies visit the nomination website:

    I have dedicated a poppy to Cyril Frank Cowling already and last month nominated his name to be included in one of the ceremonies.

    Of course it would be lovely to be there in person to hear the dedication read out but not everyone is able to get into London. By popular demand the ceremonies are now filmed and made available online. Cyril appears here, around halfway through the recording:

    I was not able to get to London on 2nd September but was lucky enough to be able to visit the poppies at the Tower of London the next day:


    Other ways of Remembering

    If you do still want to commemorate someone who died in the First World War in this centenary year there are a number of options in addition to those mentioned above. The British Legion have their own Every Man Remembered campaign in association with the CWGC.

    Local Projects

    Locally there were lots of initiatives timed to coincide with the centenary, notably a number of projects conducting research on the individuals named on local memorials. If you have a relative who was killed in the First World War carry out an internet search for projects in the town or village in which he resided at the time of his death. There may well be more information about your relative. Cyril Cowling is remembered both in Sawston, Cambridgeshire where he was born and in Cambridge where he lived when he enlisted.

    A couple of examples of excellent publications arising from recent local projects, written and contributed to by colleagues of mine are:

    Simon Last & Michael Good’s Aldeburgh War Memorial – the Men Behind the Names 1914-1918 available from a number of bookstores including Amazon:


    and Barlborough Heroes, a Heritage Lottery funded project, available from one of the team of family history researchers involved, Linda Jackson, HERE


    There are undoubtedly many more…

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