Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bolt Action: A little real life history behind my army's fiction


As mentioned in my prior post, I'm looking to give the British Dad's Army list another go. No worries, it'll still be a Weird War II army (Hobbits this time rather than Quar), I thought I might look a little bit into the History of the Homeguard beyond the cursory reading of it's Wikipedia page.

Adding to that, my last Name is Croot (no, there's no relation to the Tau's mercenary allies) and the family history (or at least what we know of it) says that our family line of the Croots emigrated from England to the US (New Jersey to be specific) sometime in the 1800s. Prior to that its said they came from the Netherlands. However there's all sorts of argument over that on as according to Ancestry the Croots first appeared on record in Devonshire in the early 1500s (seriously, how accurate were records even then, much less earlier than that?). Regardless I hear that Croots are still a dime a dozen in parts of England, whereas the surname is quite rare in the USA.

Anyways back on topic; I googled: Devonshire Homeguard Croot and quickly found two Croots who had served in the Territorial army's Devonshire regiment. True that's the reserves and not the home guard, but its close enough I suppose considering that I'm not recreating an actual unit. Coincidentally, another Croot who served in the Canadian army during WWII also popped up in that google search. 

Sticking with the British, one was a Pte. W.H.L. Croot who died in action, sadly I could find no other details beyond that. The other was a Major Robert Shirley Croot. I found out about him on an old Homeguard Reenactors' forum thread. Devonshire's regiment (or a portion of it anyways) was transferred to India, but he died when the C47 he was on crashed in the Pyrenees Mountains.

Whilst I can't claim to be related to this individual in any way, shape or form, this little bit o' history still struck a chord with me. Following up (you can see the highlighted word in the screenshot below which lead me to the photo at left), I was able (via the internet) to view his grave at the Mazargues War Cemetery near Marseilles, France.

The forum Post on RS Croot.
As such, I've decided to name my forthcoming Dad's Army lieutenant as: Lt. Croot, in honor of this man whom I would otherwise never have known had existed were it not for a miniature game created by Warlord Games. Kind of a curious route to discovery no?

This is from the cemetery's own website.

This all leads me to wonder just how often the game of Bolt Action leads it's players to make these sorts of discoveries…


Screech said...

Nah, you're just crazy.

neverness said...

Awesome stuff there. My Irish Great Grandfather fought in World War 1, was wounded in action twice, and served as a policeman in India after the war. He lived a very long life and I am thankful to have known him.

Da Masta Cheef said...

@Screech: Huh?

@Neverness: Wow that's awesome as well!

My maternal grandfather fought in WWII in the army, but died before Mom was out of high school. Sadly I don't know much more about him than R.S. Croot.

My stepmother's father also fought in WWII, a D-Day survivor if I recall correctly, but I didn't find that out till just recently. Unfortunately he's 600ish miles away and at 96, is suffering heavily from dementia. :-(

thebob489 said...

As to the voracity of documents dating back to the 16th century or earlier, England has a well preserved and extensive body of documents dating back to the 9th century. This includes a lot of parish records that can include birth and death notices and tax records for the crown. That being said, unless you can trace a direct link to an ancestor in that period similarities in name are likely coincidental. So much of the "genealogy research" online sites and individuals do is often suspect.