Was your ancestor a Post Office hero or heroine?

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08 May 2020
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Post Office Rescue and Salvage Squad, copyright The Postal Museum
The Postal Museum has today (8 May) launched a campaign to find family histories from relatives of Post Office service personnel who gave their lives during the Second World War.

To mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8 May 2020, The Postal Museum is inviting the public to share their family histories of the Post Office heroes who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars.

The campaign will be officially launched by historian and BBC presenter Dan Snow on The Postal Museum's website and social media channels on 8 May 2020.

The Post Office, known as GPO prior to the 1960s, was once the largest employer in the UK. During both World Wars the postal service was a vital part of the war effort with 70,000 employees fighting in each war. Both men and women of the GPO carried out the essential job of helping to keep communication lines open. Sadly, 12,830 postal employees are recorded to have lost their lives fighting.

Remembered lives

As part of the commemoration of postal workers who gave their lives, James Trezies, himself a postal worker, created a unique record and memorial to his fallen colleagues from the two world wars. Over the period of three years in the mid-1950s Trezies researched and hand-wrote the names of each of the fallen on individual sheets of cream wove paper, with each name appearing in alphabetical order.

The completed pages were bound into two volumes, one for each conflict, later donated to The Postal Museum in 2015 by The Post Office Fellowship of Remembrance. These volumes have been recently digitised and made available online with the support of The Post Office Fellowship of Remembrance and BT Archives.

How do I get involved?

Now, members of the public are invited to access both memorial books at the GPO War Heroes website. Here, they can search the name of relatives or friends and add details about their lives through a simple form. Submissions will be reviewed by the museum team and added to the website, to bring these volumes of names alive with citizen history. 

Chris Taft, Head of Collections at The Postal Museum, said: “One of the stories we’ve uncovered is of Percy Walter Minns. Percy joined the Post Office as a Postman in 1937, before this he had served in the Royal Navy and would re-join in 1939 to fight in the Second World War. However, on 17 September 1939 in the beginning weeks of the war, Percy died on the H.M.S. Courageous along with over 500 crew members when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

"We’ve now added Percy’s story to the GPO War Heroes website, and we hope that others will follow and share their own stories of relatives, so these online memorial books become a valuable resource for family history researchers and the future generations alike.”

The GPO War Heroes website can be viewed here.

For more information about the campaign visit the Postal Museum website.

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