WDYTYA? key documents: Lisa Hammond's episode

By Rosemary Collins, 5 September 2017 - 2:56pm

Lisa Hammond used military, legal and church records to uncover different parts of her family tree. We take a look at some of the most important documents seen on screen…

Lisa used records to find out more about her ancestors' work on the docks

Star source

Second World War records

Lisa used Second World War military records to find out the poignant story of her grandfather, Henry Hammond. She began by searching for ‘H Hammond’ on the British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945. These are a set of over a million records which were kept by the War Office during the Second World War. They include the names of soldiers and nurses who were killed, injured, captured or absent without leave. The originals are stored at The National Archives (TNA) and they are digitised on Findmypast. You can view the record of Henry Hammond’s disappearance in Italy on 11 November 1943 here.

Lisa found out more from records of Henry Hammond’s military service and his time as a prisoner of war in Germany. The next of kin of a deceased Second World War soldier can request a summary of their military service records from the Ministry of Defence. You can request records of a prisoner of war from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Lisa also found out that while Harry was a prisoner, his mother’s home was destroyed in an air raid. Census reports of the damage caused by air raids are available at TNA.

Other key sources

The 1939 Register

In September 1939, the British government conducted a register of civilians. The data was vital to the war effort, with uses such as distributing ID cards and allocating rations.

The 1931 census was destroyed in an air raid and the 1941 census was never taken, so it is the only national record of this period and is available on Findmypast. You can view Henry Hammond on the register here.


Lisa found her 3x great grandfather William Henry Hilditch, a lighterman living in Stepney, in the 1851 census. Censuses were introduced in 1801 and first listed the names of every individual in 1841. They are released to the public 100 years after they were completed. You can find William Hilditch’s entry along with many other census records on both Ancestry and Findmypast.


Lisa discovered that William Hilditch was disinherited in the will of his uncle Joseph Hilditch in 1835. Before 1858, all wills had to be proved by the church and other courts.

The will of a wealthy individual in the south of England, like Joseph Hilditch, would have been proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), whose records are held at TNA. Images of the records, including Joseph Hilditch's will, are also available on Ancestry. If a will was disputed in the PCC, as Joseph Hilditch’s was, TNA also holds the records.

Parish records

Lisa was surprised to find her 4x great grandfather Richard Hilditch’s baptism record from Denbigh, Wales. Denbighshire parish records can be viewed at Denbighshire Archives.


Five things you might not know about WDYTYA? star Lisa Hammond
previous blog Article
WDYTYA? location guide: Lisa Hammond
next blog Article
Five things you might not know about WDYTYA? star Lisa Hammond
previous blog Article
WDYTYA? location guide: Lisa Hammond
next blog Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here