Kate Jamieson is an award winning outdoor and adventure blogger who has a passion for naval history. Kate has also been on Mastermind where her specialist subject was Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson.
Here’s what Ancestry UK found when they traced Kate’s ancestors to see if she any First World War connections.
Kate’s great great great uncle, Leonard John Seabrook, was a professional solider before war broke out in 1914 and served in St Helena, South Africa and the East Indies. Leonard served in the second Boer war between the British Empire and the two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, which was a brutal experience for the British Army.
In 1912 Leonard married Rita Florence Heathfield in Kent. The following year the couple had a daughter, Gladys Doris Florence Seabrook, who was born on 18 November 1913.
Sadly, on the 24 November 1913 - just 6 days after giving birth - Rita died, leaving Leonard to raise his daughter alone.
Due to Leonards prior service in the army he wasn’t obliged to serve again, but when war broke out he voluntarily enlisted in the Royal Engineers.
Gladys was sent to live with her grandmother (Leonard’s mother) whilst her father went off to war. It is very likely that she went three years without seeing her father.
On the 22 October 1916 Leonard was sent to serve in Mesopotamia - or modern Iraq as it is now known - to join a campaign against the Ottoman empire (Turkey) which had started in 1914.
In 1916 the campaign slowly started to turn from success to almost failure as the Turkish forces were underestimated and put up strong resistance. As a result, a huge number of British forces were forced to surrender in April 1916 at a fortress in the town of Kut-al-Amara.
This meant that the British had to reorganise and rethink their approach to the campaign, and is why Leonard came to serve in Mesopotamia.
Kate Jamieson with Genealogist Simon Pearce
The Indian army also played a huge role here alongside the British army. Both armies lost huge numbers of soldiers. 16,500 soldiers were lost in action while a further 16,700 soldiers succumbed to sickness and disease.
The heat was also an issue for those serving. It was so hot during the day that most things could only be done in the cooler hours of the morning and evening, which is why there wasn’t such large scale offensives such as those seen on the Western front.
In May 1919, Leonard was demobilised and put on the reserves list.
Leonard received the Victory and British Medals for his service in the Royal Engineers Corp during the war.
Kate said: “I think it’s interesting to find out that my ancestor was in Mesopotamia which is modern day Iraq. He was also in South Africa and St Helena. I enjoy travelling so maybe I can try and link those together with a bit of history research one day. I’m definitely looking forward to finding out some more about him.
“I think if I could send my ancestors a message it would be; thank you for the part they played in the war, obviously so many people did play a part and it’s been great to find out the role that members of my family have played in that.”
We would like to say a big thank you to the National Army Museum for allowing us to film at their amazing location.
Visit our YouTube Channel for more videos in our WW1 ancestry series featuring Jack Edwards, Beckie Brown and Kate Jamieson.
Jack Edwards with Genealogist Simon Pearce