Daniel Radcliffe uncovers WW1 love story ๐Ÿ’” | Who Do You Think You Are? – BBC


I’m trying to work out
who this one’s from, cos there’s a lot of mentions
of Ernie in it and this is sent from
Banbridge, September 2nd, 1914. “My dear Ernie, my heart was
sore…” Oh! “..when I had to come
into the house. “But some day we will give
them all a good day when we are “getting married, won’t we, love? “From your ever loving sweetheart.” Oh, hold on. “Jeannie.” Wow! Someone was very keen on Ernie! That’s a great letter. I mean, it’s just willing this
to come true by writing it. So this is another letter. From Jeannie, again. “No-one can say to you, Ernie,
that you are going with a flirt…” HE LAUGHS She’s very funny – Jeannie. “No-one can say to you, Ernie,
that you are going with a flirt. “I love you, Ernie,
with all my heart, and will till death do us part.” Still just… ..so in love with him. I want to find out… I want to find out what happened
to all the brothers, if possible. And… ..I’d like to know more about him
and Jeannie cos they seem sweet. Um… And I wonder if
they ever got to marry. I really hope they did,
based on those letters. To find out what more
the letters can reveal, Daniel’s meeting First World War
historian Jessica Meyer. We’ve got the letter
from Ernest’s mother, your great-great-grandmother, which is what makes this collection
really quite special. And then the other thing
we have which is really unusual, these letters from Jeannie. Yeah! Which are lovely. I love them.
They’re so passionate! They really are.
They’re just like old… What I imagine love letters to be. “I love you all the time. “I love you, Ernie, with a
love that will never die.” So even in the midst of war… ..life goes on. Yeah. Love carries on… Yeah. ..in very difficult circumstances. It is amazing. This is the last dated
letter that we have. The latest date that we have
a letter from. Oh, wow, OK. 28th of May, 1916. “My dear mother and father, “I am writing you these few lines
hoping they will find you all well. “From your loving son, Ernie,
to my dear mother and father. “Bye-bye. “And tell Flo, I don’t forget… “Tell Flo I don’t forget about
the ha’penny I owe her.” But then, it’s great that
he’s still, like, remembering a debt
to his youngest sister. He’s written so regularly for… ..nearly two years. Erm… And then they just stop.
And then they just stop. Oh, dear. That doesn’t bode well.
No. Back in his family’s
hometown of Banbridge, Daniel hopes he can discover
what happened to his great-great-uncle Ernie
and his brothers. Oh. Oh, OK, This is a roll of honour. “To the glory of God and in
proud and loving memory of all “the following men from this parish,
who in response to the call “of their king and country
laid down their lives “in the Great War 1914-1919.” Yeah… There’s Ernie. Ernest McDowell. So none of the other
brothers are there, though. So I assume that means Ernie
was the only one who… ..who got killed. To find out more about
Ernie and his brothers, Daniel is meeting
genealogist Fiona Fitzsimons. I’ve learned that Ernie did
in fact die during the war. Do you know anything about
the circumstances of his death? This is a letter written by somebody
who was there with Ernie, at the moment that he died…
Oh, wow. ..and he sent it to your
great-great grandmother. Oh, wow. It’s very old. Yeah. Yeah, it says, “Mrs McDowell. “As far as I can tell you the truth
about your dear beloved son. “We were just after arriving
in the trenches, and your boy “and two more chaps from Belfast
were going into a dugout “to take off their packs,
when a shell landed…” “..which killed the three of them. “I’m very sorry to say none of them
did live to say a word to anyone.” I thought that maybe he was
dying in some big battle, but it was just a random shell. “I think I’m after telling you
the very truth about all now, “for which I am only too willing
to give any broken-hearted mother. “As I’m… “As I am the only son myself, and I know the way
my own mother do feel. “Yours etc, James O’Brien.” That’s extraordinary. He definitely seems to
want to reassure Elizabeth that Ernie didn’t suffer. Hm… Some of the particularly
affecting letters that I read were from Ernie’s girlfriend,
Jeannie, and I was wondering, you know, she seemed pretty devoted to Ernie
in all those letters… Mm-hm. So do we know anything
about what happened to her? We do. We found a record of what happened
to Jeannie from the parish registers of this church. “Marriage solemnised at the… ..”Church of the Holy Trinity.” Oh, wow, so, yeah,
they got married here. Mm-hm. “Ernest McDowell and Jeannie
Barlow,” is that? Barlow. Barlow. And look at the date. February 19th?
14th. February 14th – oh! February 14th! Valentine’s Day!
February 14th, 1915. So a real sweetheart. Ha! It does make me
really happy that they were able to have that year together. And… Yeah, were able to just be a young
couple for a little while, before he had to go back off. To have made a World War I film
and, you know, played at being a soldier
in the trenches, you know, I definitely feel more connected
to all those stories, now that I’ve kind of learned
what my own family went through. And suddenly realising why… ..out of all the brothers, Ernie’s name was the one
that made it down to me because he was the son that went
and didn’t come back. To find Elizabeth’s letters
to Ernie just give… ..such an insight into what it would
have been like to have your children leave for the war. And just to, just to find
out how much… ..love there is in my family. You know, a lot of very sad things
have happened to various parts of my family. But I can’t be sad about it
because… ..everyone was really loved,
and, ultimately ..that means that the time
they had on Earth, even if it ended prematurely
and sadly, was, you know, was worth having.

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