A Wagner Family Artifact Comes Home to the Family

You never know what contacts you might make as a result of an online family history blog. Sure, I’ve had the great pleasure of being contacted by long, ‘lost’ cousins but never before did I imagine that a family artifact would find it’s way back to the family as a result of my blog.

Don Wagner (no known relationship to my wife) runs the Soldier’s Museum website. As a history buff, Don also finds and collects historical artifacts. One of Don’s finds was a small, hard covered book (pictured below) entitled, “Americans’ Guide to Hindustani.” The book is best described as a pocket-sized dictionary containing the Hindi-Urdu translations of useful English language phrases and words, likely a useful book to have if you were born in Saskatchewan, Canada and posted during World War 2 to north India.

On the inside flyleaf of the book (pictured below), the soldier who owned the book had written his name and regimental assignment, “F/O Gordon Wagner – 229 Group RAF India.”

When Don decided to do a little research to see if he could find any additional information about the soldier, a Google search lead him to my blog post about Ellen’s uncle, Gordon  Gilbert Henry Wagner. Don left a comment on my Gordon Wagner blog post and then also contacted me by email to see if we could determine if ‘my’ Gordon Wagner was the same Gordon Wagner who had written his name inside the book.

There are precious few records available in Canada covering the 1,159,000 Canadians who served in World War 2 and there are access restrictions to the service files of those who survived the war, including Gordon. Fortunately for me, Gordon had two passionate interests that he pursued in his retirement. Genealogy and writing.

Gordon’s genealogy research served as the initial basis for my own research of the great history connected with Ellen’s family. Gordon’s passion for writing resulted in the publication of several books, including his autobiographical recollections of his time in the Royal Canadian Air Force, entitled “How Papa Won The War” (published by the Flying-W-Publishing Co. in 1989). 

On page 157 of the book, Gordon wrote, “In their campaign to chase the Japanese out of Burma, the British army needed aircraft to transport supplies and paratroops into the jungles of north-western Burma. The Royal Air Force received the army’s request and asked the Royal Canadian Air Force to supply the aircrews. The RAF would fly us to India, providing the planes and the base. The RCAF would form two squadrons, train the crews and take the squadrons into Burma. At least that was the plan, a good one really.”

Gordon provided a copy of his new assignment to the RAF, dated September 12, 1944 to the 229 Group India.

So both ‘my’ Gordon Wagner and the Gordon Wagner who owned the book were both assigned to the 229 Group in India during World War 2. It’s still possible that they are two different people but I doubt that very much.

I agreed to a price for the book (or maybe it was a finder’s fee) with Don and he mailed the book to me. It arrived back in the hands of the Wagner family today!

My Autosomal DNA Test Results Included A Surprise!

On November 18th, 2012, I shared the the results that I received from Family Tree DNA for my Hadden Y-DNA test, including my Haplogroup. I have now received the results for my autosomal DNA test, called Family Finder by Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree DNA states “Family Finder uses autosomal DNA (inherited from both the mother and father, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc.) to provide you a breakdown of your ethnic percentages and connect you with relatives descended from any of your ancestral lines within approximately the last 5 generations.” Autosomal DNA is from the 22 chromosome pairs beyond the gender determining X and Y chromosomes.

The first thing I wanted to review was the breakdown of my ethnic percentages. Having a paternal ancestry firmly rooted in Scotland and a maternal ancestry similarly rooted in Ireland, I saw little room for surprises.

My ethnic breakdown, by percentage, is 96.64% Western Europe (Orcadian), that is from the Orkney Islands, and 3.36% South Asia (Southeast Indian, North Indian). Huh? Where did that come from? The genealogy paper trails have led me to Ireland, Scotland (and from there to England) but nothing has suggested India but it seems like there might be an intriguing story somewhere in my ancestral past. The Orkney Island might also contain a great Viking warrior ancestry.

Family Tree DNA has also provided me with a list of individuals who have also been tested and who share DNA segments, measured in centiMorgans (cM), with me. A quick review of the list and the ancestral surnames associated with each of the matches doesn’t immediately reveal any ‘hits’ to me. There are a couple of individuals who may likely be cousins, second to fourth cousins, but I need to take a closer look at how we match up before I can really understand how I can best utilize this new information.