Those with no memorial

Alexander Foltyniewicz, aged 23 in 1917On Sunday it will be 89 years exactly since my great grandmother’s step-brother was killed on the Western Front.  Lance Corporal Alexander Foltyniewicz died in action on 26 August 1918 at the age of 24.  He had served since early 1915 and died less than 3 months before the armistice.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 1,594 other commonwealth service personnel who died on the same day.

Alec’s body was recovered and he is buried in France but there is no known memorial to him in England. There are several possible reasons for this.

Firstly, the way we locate memorials on which individuals are named is by searching on the Lostgeneration website.  This database was compiled using name lists sent in to us over the past 18 years by volunteers.  The project is very much ongoing, so there are still many memorials remaining to record.  Additionally,  family history was not as popular when we were founded as it is today.  In those days, with the limited resources available, recording the memorial itself to help protect it was often considered the priority.  This means that even for some memorials for which we do have a record, we don’t yet have a name list on file.  We are working to fill in these gaps.

There is also the possibility of errors in transcription, either at the time the memorial was erected, or when we recorded it.  This is even more likely with unusual or foreign names such as Foltyniewicz.

Alexander may have been named on a memorial that was subsequently lost, e.g. destroyed during bombing during the Second World War.  Or he may have been listed on a temporary street shrine that was dismantled after the war.

Another possibility is that he was not listed on any memorials.  One of our ‘frequently asked questions’ deals with why and how names can be ommitted from memorials.

Regardless of the reasons, I’ll keep looking!

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