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|I wish I was a genealogist. Why? Because then I would have answers to my past that would help me explain the following photo:
Dispatch Riders (or Despatch Riders) were used by the British in World War I and World War II as messengers to deliver urgent orders or communications from headquarters to field units.
In World War II when men were in field units, the British used WRENS as Dispatch Riders. WREN stands for Women's Royal Navy Service (WRNS) . As men were out to war, the service drafted women to be dispatch riders with the important mission of delivering orders/communications. They worked in all kinds of conditions from the Blitz to bad weather.
The women who were initially selected needed to have knowledge of motorcycles, how to ride one, and how to provide maintenance on a motorcycle. They were usually well known competition drivers from local racing circuits. As the war grew on, they selected untrained women and would train them up.
Their work during the Battle of Britain was praised since traveling during those conditions where dicey to say the least.
The bike this dispatch rider is on is a BSA 250cc, which is a common bike of the time. The photo is dated 10 May 1941. An article about the dispatch riders that share some information on their background and heroism can be found here: https://www.motorcyclistonline.com/female-dispatch-motorcycle-riders-world-war-i...
Why do I wish a genealogist? Because the women on the bike looks just like me.
I'm a tad older in this picture, in my 30's, but you can see the resemblance. When I saw this picture I was stunned.
A co-worker found it on a Pinterest board and shared it with me. We were both floored. I was able to find out a date on photo, the type of bike, and from what's she's wearing, determined she was a British dispatch rider, but that's it.
I want to know more!!
I did 23andMe about a year and half ago and found out some interesting things about my genes.
I'm 44% Eastern European from Poland and Ukraine. Not surprised. My mother's family came from those areas. From what I've been able to find out, My maternal grandmother's parents, Michael and Petronella (from Ukraine) left in 1913 to come to America so Michael wouldn't be drafted into the Russian army (World War 1) . They settled in Massachusetts and my grandmother settled in Hinsdale, NH with her Polish husband. I don't know his story at all, but would interested to learn it.
My father's side has a rich Canadian history that can be traced back to the "Daughters of the King" (Fille Du Roi) where Louis XIV (14th), wanting to increase the French population in Canada, sent approximately 800 young women with dowries he provided them to Canada to find a man and start a family between 1663-1673. According to 23andMe, I am 15% French/German. (Interesting side note, according to 23andMe, my German comes from Nord Rhine Westphila -- the area where I was stationed when I was in the US Army 86-88.). My French comes Normandie.
I'm 15% British/Irish.
When I was little girl, I once asked my Granny (my father's mother) where she was from. She said, "I don't know. I'm a mutt, I'm little from here and there." Me: Are you Irish? (because St. Patrick's Day was around the corner and I wanted to wear green.) Granny: Maybe a little, I don't know.
Come to find out, Granny was a lot more Irish -- and British -- than she thought!!
23andMe says I'm from all over Britain, but the big "hit" is in the London area. I'm 2-3 generations removed according to them, which sounds about right if one of Granny's parents (or both) had British roots.
I would love to know the woman's name in the picture. Where is she? Is she in London? Who are her family? Is she a cousin of mine? Why does this woman in the picture look remarkably like me?
Ah... it's something only history -- and a genealogist can tell me.