This Remembrance Day, the team at online genealogy service Findmypast is determined to highlight all manner of extraordinary wartime stories. They want to honour the sacrifice of all those who served on the front line, as well as those on the home front, and make sure no one is forgotten.


Harnessing the power of their database, which includes over 71 million historical newspaper pages and billions of records, they’re on a mission to ensure that we #RememberThemAll.

Collaborating with the National Trust, they’ve taken a specific look at ten of England’s historical places which are looked after by the National Trust. They’ve uncovered dozens of stories from our wartime ancestors who lived and worked at these sites.

Among their discoveries, anecdotes can be found from across the UK. From a country house-turned-wartime hospital in Devon, to the working-class struggle in Birmingham’s ‘Back to Back’ houses.

All of this has been uncovered using material that is accessible with a Findmypast subscription. This includes exclusive access to the 1921 Census, which helps provide an understanding of how people lived in the years during and just after WWI.

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The team at Findmypast hopes these stories of places cared for by the National Trust will encourage others to delve deeper into their own ancestors' wartime history. To help inspire this, Findmypast is offering a 7-day free trial for all new subscribers.

You can research your own history, look back at historical places of interest, view more stories about places cared for by the National Trust, or just browse from their library of resources – all without paying a penny.

Sign up to Findmypast and get a free trial to explore records and newspapers for free

Knightshayes: stories from a WWI hospital

Knightshayes Court in a newspaper clipping - Wikiimages
Knightshayes, Findmypast newspaper collection (Wikiimages)

When the team at Findmypast was researching the historical stories of sites cared for by the National Trust, one place which stood out was Knightshayes Court, in Tiverton, Devon. Using their extensive library of newspaper records, they were able to get an insight into the important role the country house played during the First World War.

Today, Knightshayes Court is enjoyed by hundreds of visitors each year as a country home and garden, but 100 years ago it served a very different purpose and was turned into a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) at the outbreak of the First World War.

Here, civilians volunteered to nurse those injured during WWI. Findmypast’s newspaper pages tell the stories of some of Knightshayes’ residents during this tumultuous period.

Among them was Corporal Cooper, a soldier being treated in Knightshayes. He served with the South Staffordshire Regiment and newspapers reveal the nasty shrapnel injury he suffered whilst in France. They explain how he was left with 119 bullet wounds during the conflict and left unconscious for days.

Newspaper clipping from Knightshayes
A newspaper clipping describing Corporal Cooper's wounds and cheerful manner (Findmypast newspaper collection)

After travelling to Knightshayes for further treatment after his initial injury, Cooper became known for his surprisingly cheerful manner. He was dubbed ‘Mark Tapley’, after the character from Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit known for remaining jolly in the face of hardship.

Newspapers also tell the story of Dr Charles Liesching, who was the supervisor of Knightshayes Hospital from 1915 to 1919. Liesching was joined by his daughter, Nora, who volunteered as an assistant cook.

The Liesching family’s contribution to the war went further with Charles’s son, William, enlisted in September 1913. Newspapers reveal that he went on to earn numerous medals and honours.

These are just a few stories pulled from Findmypast’s historical newspapers. With more than 71 million newspaper pages to look through, there are billions more stories for you to uncover.

Sign up to Findmypast and get a free trial to explore records and newspapers for free

As well as Knightshayes Court, other places looked after by the National Trust were researched by Findmypast to explore the stories of those who lived and worked there.

One of the places they picked out was Birmingham’s ‘Back to Back’ houses. Their research revealed stories of the working-class struggle during wartime, and the conditions that veterans returned to upon arriving back to the West Midlands city.

For example, the 1921 Census revealed that WWI veteran Charles Henry Hoare, who rose to Corporal Acting Sergeant, had to move back into the cramped conditions of the Back to Backs on return from war. He moved into 81 Hurst Street with his elderly parents, Charles and Annie.

The exact conditions of his home aren’t known, but the Back to Backs were notoriously cramped. The 1921 Census revealed that one house had five different surnames under one roof and in one area 61 people were spread across just five small houses.

As for Charles, he not only had to deal with a cramped return but he also had his ‘right arm off’ due to a gunshot injury suffered in Germany. The Census helped reveal his arm’s absence as well as awards he later received such as the 1914-15 Star and the King’s Certificate. Charles was granted a pension for life in May 1921 and died in February 1925.

1921 Census
Details of Charles Hoare's injury from the 1921 Census. (Findmypast)

Other sites that Findmypast researched using the 1921 Census and their library of 71 million newspaper pages include Southwell Workhouse and Infirmary, Nottinghamshire, and A La Ronde, Devon, plus many more. You can view them all with a subscription to Findmypast and do so for free with a 7-day free trial.

For more wartime stories and exclusive access to the 1921 Census, subscribe to Findmypast

Remembering our wartime ancestors

Findmypast’s research into sites cared for by the National Trust has helped us understand much about those living in the UK during the First World War. It has given an insight into the testing times people lived through and highlighted individual stories as part of their aim to #RememberThemAll.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are millions of people whose stories still need to be told. Findmypast wants to encourage people to research the lives of their ancestors who lived during wartime, both those who served on the front lines and the home front.

Remembrance Day, and the period around it, provides the perfect time to reflect on these stories. Whether you’re interested in the involvement in the war of those in your own family tree, want to research a particular town/city's wartime involvement, or even investigate the wartime history of hundreds of other sites cared for by the National Trust around the country, Findmypast has the tools to help.

Exclusive Census access, tens of millions of newspaper pages, genealogy records and family tree tips. Whatever your historical interest, you can discover something new with Findmypast’s material.

With their 7-day free trial you’ll get all of this without paying a penny. What can you find, and who can you help to remember?


Sign up to Findmypast and get a free trial to explore records and newspapers for free


Finn ByrneEcommerce Writer

Finn Byrne is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media. He works across several brands including The Recommended,, MadeforMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. Finn has previously written for publications including MyLondon, The Mirror, The Express, and The Star. When not writing Finn enjoys spending time on the football pitch and getting stuck into a book.