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Many wish they had asked relatives more about life when they were alive

Of those who have discovered something about their relatives' lives, 51 percent admitted it left them with more unanswered questions, while a further 45 percent felt closer to their family.

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Lovely grandchildren telling interesting stories to beloved grandparents
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By Alice Hughes, 72Point via SWNS

People wish they had asked relatives more about their life when they were alive - after discovering an interesting story once they had passed.

In the lead up to Remembrance Sunday, a study of 2,000 people found 53 percent have learned something they hadn’t previously known about a family member after they had died.

Discoveries included tales of their wartime experiences (29 percent), their childhood (28 percent) and where they had travelled (23 percent).

Stories were uncovered through speaking to others who knew relatives when they were younger (49 percent) and discussions with the wider family (45 percent).

Of those who have discovered something about their relatives' lives, 51 percent admitted it left them with more unanswered questions, while a further 45 percent felt closer to their family.

The research, commissioned by Ancestry.co.uk, found a further 43 percent discovered a revelation when clearing out their relative’s home.

A quarter of those polled regret not speaking to their relatives more about their wartime stories in particular and 22 percent would love to discover an unknown war related tale within their family history.

The family history brand has teamed up with poet Nikita Gill this Remembrance to create an emotive new poem, "Who You Are" www.ancestry.co.uk/whoyouare - recounting some of the untold personal experiences from the First and Second World Wars found in records found on Ancestry.

“Both my grandfathers were in the Indian Army during the Second World War, so I felt like I had a real connection to the subject matter," said Nikita Gill .

“I wanted to do justice to the stories of ordinary people who lived during a time of great change and uncertainty.

“My experience of using the wealth of UK and Ireland wartime records available on Ancestry as inspiration demonstrated how even the simplest of records can tell such interesting and poignant stories.”

Simon Pearce, military history expert at Ancestry, said: “Britain’s wartime history is full of fascinating accounts that shed light on how our ancestors once lived, and yet there are still so many stories to be discovered.

“In fact, our research highlights how many people have unearthed a story about their own family’s history after a relative has passed, showcasing the importance of having those discussions now to ensure these stories live on.”

The research also found such discoveries left people feeling intrigued (32 percent), shocked (26 percent) and proud (25 percent).

Among the top things respondents found from relatives after they passed were photos (28 percent), physical heirlooms (19 percent) and letters (19 percent).

Of those polled, 39 percent also admitted they are not familiar with trench poetry - poems written by soldiers during the First World War to express their experiences.

Yet 31 percent feel finding their ancestors’ creative writing would help them feel closer to them.

More than a fifth (22 percent) would love to discover an unknown war related tale within their family history.

While 21 percent admitted that although they know their family member was alive during the war and served, they don’t know what role they played.

Other topics Brits wish they’d discussed more with loved ones included the hobbies they had growing up (20 percent), what jobs they had (19 percent) and where they met their partner (19 percent).

And when it comes to their ancestors’ experiences of wartime, people would be interested to know how their family members found rationing (18 percent), the role they played (22 percent) and who else they met during that time (17 percent).

While 29 percent would like to discover a family story related to life on the front line, a further quarter (25 percent) would enjoy hearing about a wartime love story.

More than 40 percent of those polled, via OnePoll, admitted they don’t really know their family’s history.

Ancestry.co.uk is offering free access to billions of UK and Ireland wartime records from November 4th – 8th to help people discover their own family wartime stories.

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