A few months ago I saw an announcement in the Cambs FHS info about a coach trip to the National Archives, so I promptly booked two seats - one for me (obviously) and one for my friend Mo; we've been meaning to go for years (literally) so this was a no-brainer (as the yoof say).
Up early, picnic lunch packed, and off to the pick-up point, courtesy of Mo's husband, and then onto the coach and off to the great metropolis. Inevitable delays due to "weight of traffic" (what does that mean?) but we got there and picked up our Reader's Tickets.
And into the Archives....... Oh my, how simple. Sit at a computer, swipe your brand new Reader's Ticket, and enter the reference of the document (spent a few hours earlier in the week doing my homework). And, voila, the promise of delivery of said document in 40 minutes. So I went to have a cup of coffee first.
First one I looked at was the War Diary of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in the Great War; my great-uncle Ben Langford, whose death was the first "family history" I investigated, served with them and I wanted to know where, precisely, they were when he died at the end of October 1914. Very sobering feeling as I read it, surprised at its almost-narrative entries, but my curiosity was satisfied even as I "lived" his last few days.
The next document was another War Diary, this time to get info for a friend whose great-uncle had also died in the Great War. A similar, but not as intense, feeling as I gathered the details.
And, finally, the Officer's Service Record for Harry Culpin (1877-1948) - a career soldier who was promoted from Sgt Major to 2nd Lieut. in 1914. Gotta thank the Army for filling in his marriage details and, bless them further, their children's births and baptisms. Plus, at Harry's request, a complete list of his service details. Complete result!
And all so simply achieved. Beautifully organised. Allowed to take photographs with the phone, no flash and no camera noise - so I took a few pics, just because I could.
And back to Cambridge, a lift home. What's not to like? We've decided we *will* go again.....