Well, I really enjoyed Chris's episode.
I'm not a big fan of his radio persona but I thought he came across as a nice bloke, genuinely interested to find out more and not too emotional.
More importantly, his family story took us on a journey through some really interesting social history and some fascinating sources, just the sort of stuff that makes WDYTYA? such a great programme.
Using the 1911 census of Ireland, which is available online for free (http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie
), Chris found that his grandmother lived in the slums of Dublin. This led him (and the programme) to investigate life in the slums at the start of the 20th century, including grim insights into workhouses, infant mortality and tuberculosis. All fascinating stuff.
The section on his great-grandfather, James Moyles, who fought and died at Ypres durong the First World War was equally gripping. To think that he was a reservist and yet he ended up in the middle of such fierce industrial warfare was mind boggling.
And the chap who showed him round the battlefield sites, Peter Barton, was great. Finding an eyewitness description of how James met his end was incredible and Chris's tearful response felt all the more genuine given his measured approach throughout the programme.
Every time I read about or see a personal story from WW1 I feel like I come to a better understanding that unfathomablly gargantuan conflict.
For me, though, the best moment was when the Irish lady who had the Widow's Penny (awarded to the family of James Moyles after his death in WW1) refused to let Chris borrow it until he had promised to give it back. Her genuine and earnest suspicion of her famous relative was superb to watch, and probably not was Chris was expecting.
A great episode, in my humble opinion.
What did you think?