When research goes wrong !

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Mr Jinks, Mar 5, 2020.

  1. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Evening , Please bear with me with this one.
    Yesterday I was browsing through the various news items and noticed a story from Australia where a WW2 veteran had died alone and without family. Someone did research on the man named Brian Stanley William Fortune and discovered he had been captured at Dunkirk an Englishman serving with the 6th DLI and imprisoned for almost five years and on release in 1945 travelled to Australia where he settled .

    The researcher even got his service number 4447867 . The information was released via social media and appeal was made for mouners to attend his funeral. The story went viral so much so that the funeral venue was changed to allow the armed forces,government representatives,a pipe band and a bugler to attend . There has since been a further development with the funeral being covered `live` on Monday 9th 2020 and beamed via the internet around the world!

    Regulars here will know I rely on former member Jim (Verrieres) and often field him questions posted on this forum . I saw this as a chance to give him something back and sent off an email to him to let him know what I had discovered?

    Jim`s reply came back almost immediately ,he already knew about this unfortunate man however what he told me next makes me feel a little uncomfortable ;=

    Kyle, I know about the story I have contacted various parties including ABC News (Who were very helpful) and the group who released the story they are attributing the wrong details to this guy . At 94 he was too young to serve at Dunkirk the army number they quoted is from 1928-30 which would have meant he was about three when he enlisted. The Times and Daily Mail are also running the story with the original research unaltered .
    The funeral is Monday and no one is listening !
    I researched Brian Stanley William Fortune and can find no DLI links certainly not PoW wise. The researcher has quoted the details of 4447867 Pte B Fortune assuming the `B` is Brian it isnt.
    4447867 Pte B Fortune is actually `Pte Burton Fortune ` born in Sunderland on the 20th February 1913 (He gave 1908 on his PoW Card) he had this number issued between 21st June 1928 and 19th February 1930 . (Hes already on my website!)
    4447867 Pte Burton Fortune was listed as missing on the 21st May 1940 and was confirmed as captured at Arras on 24th May 1940 (aged 26) and held by the Germans at Stalag 20A Thorn Podgorz and at Stalag XXIB Schubin with the prisoner of war number 3494 and freed in 1945 . Burton Fortune had been a pre war regular soldier serving in India he married Rose Compardo in Sunderland 1938 they lived in South Street Sunderland .Recalled from the reserve on the outbreak of war he joined 6th DLI. On his release in 1945 Burton Fortune spent time at a Civil Ressettlement Camp in Washington on an employment course .
    The number has been checked in official records and I can confirm it was issued from Army Form B358 Enlistment Book no 14 covering numbers between 4447001-4448000 issued 21st June 1928- 19th February 1930. An official record for Burton Fortune is held at the British National Archives under the official designation WO 416/125/350. ABC agreed there should be contact between the original researchers and myself .There has been none and their office is closed until Monday. Kyle this isnt something which sits well with me mate. Brian Stanley William Fortune is going to his final resting place with another mans military record ! The Facebook posts etc still grow ! Take care Jim

    Link to ;-
    A WWII veteran died alone in hospital, but thanks to social media hundreds will attend his funeral

    What do others think?

    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    This is the sort of issue I have with 'social media' and why I avoid it like a Chinese plague. It's full of nonsense and half-baked stories. It took a while and some persuading, but at last my wife treats anything she reads on Facebook with a large pinch of salt.
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Very sad to get this so wrong
    As we always say this facenonsense and twatter get over run by the people who know better sometimes they try to be helpful but most of the time they lack common sense to see the actual picture
  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hmm - not good, this is why we always ask people to obtain service records to stop them going off on wild goose chases or down wrong routes, It is also sad to see the demise of professional journalism (newspaper and TV) in that they dont appear to have made even rudimentary checks.

    The other secondary problem that may arise is - do people actually care that its wrong, 2 hours after the event it will propbably be forgotten as people get on with their lives and concern themselves with the next social media problem of a single mum, whose problems are always someones fault never their own and therefore should be given benefits and support.

    Its a sign of the times

    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I am horrified.

    Mr Jinks likes this.
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    An afterthought - has the information above been sent to the contact point in the article?

    "Contact Anna Hartley"

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  8. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Hi TD,

    Yes Jim contacted Anna who he said was very helpful forwarding the correct details on to the original organiser/researcher and took his phone number because she thought they should speak with him ? But they didn't :(

  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    A good example of why academic and/or scientific research papers are peer reviewed before publication and why I never fully trust anything that uses Wiki as its only reference
  10. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Never trust Wikipedia. I corrected some information on the 24th Lancers page only to see it uncorrected a short time later. Some 'self-important self righteous expert' then had a go at me on the basis that 'my sources didn't count' - my sources were perfectly valid being the Regimental War Diary, other official (Kew) documents but, most importantly, information from the Old Comrades themselves. Take everything on Wikipedia with a great pinch of salt.
  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    I just read that again

    "He joined the British Army around 1939, he joined the 6th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, which is important to note because in 1940 they were one of the first battalions into France to stop the Germans."

    The idiot who wrote this without thinking numbers
    94 years of age
    born 1926
    He would have been 13 in 1939
    He would have been 14 years old at Dunkirk

    It just shows you these gimbos who get caught up on social media dont even think, they just want to be liked by the binary or seen as a do gooder.
    And they are all making guesses on his life ""I would say his relatives would believe that he died in 1945."

    The poor mans memory blighted by a bunch of twonks
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
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  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    You've probably just laid the grounds for another WW2 myth - Underage soldiers! :whistle:
    gash hand likes this.
  13. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    There seem to be an increasing number of those around these days - I tend to ignore them - funnily enough its an option that this site allows you to do if you wish to ignore a member - seems to work rather well

    Harry Ree, timuk, Blutto and 3 others like this.
  14. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    And just listen to the soothing echos from the bubble
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I had something similar last week. No names here for obvious reasons. A presentation has been made to a Regimental Museum of a soldiers medals and other militaria including his Army papers. The museum have added information about the soldiers WW2 service on the basis of his battalion’s ongoing journey during the war. It is a nice write up and exhibit, the only problem is that he was taken prisoner in 1943 and spent the rest of the war as a POW.

    Classic case of a story running away with itself with no checks made. As with the story above, it is hard to stop a runaway train.
    timuk, Mr Jinks, CL1 and 2 others like this.
  16. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    It's easily done. I was led astray for a while when tracking a Gt Uncle who served in the First World War. I followed the Btn War Diary and worked out what actions he must have been in only to later discover that he had been in command of a troop detached to serve with an entirely different unit and spent much of his time in a different ToW! His service record showed him in command of the troop but not that it had been detached. It was only when I found a small photo he had sent to his sister (my Gran) on the back of which he had written place and date that the penny dropped.
    vitellino, Mr Jinks and JimHerriot like this.
  17. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    I`m glad everyone who has responded has reservations and I think the `runawaytrain` is an excellent phrase which truely sums it up. Mind the `Wiki` references left me a little puzzled but if its a general observation/comparison thats fine.

    Looking at the news report has anyone given any thought to where these people have got their information from?

    Research documents

    I have this nagging feeling those documents originated from a site known on here as "those who shall not be mentioned" ;)


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  18. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    For me this is their "2+2=5" train of thinking.

    We have an answer so it must be correct, and if we've decided it's correct why check it.

    Best intentions, blinkered thinking, errors resulting.

    It is a tragedy.

    Kind regards, always,

    gash hand and canuck like this.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Ancestry - search for 'B Fortune' only in the military section and

    UK, Allied Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: B . Fortune
    Rank: Pte.
    Military Date: 1939-1945
    Regiment: D.L.I.
    Service Number: 4447867
    Source Description: 1: Imperial Prisoners of War Held in Germany or German-Occupied Territory: British Army

    All UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945 results for B Fortune
    Name: B Fortune
    Rank: Private
    Army Number: 4447867
    Regiment: Durham Light Infantry
    POW Number: 3494
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: XX-A
    Camp Location: Torun, Poland
    Record Office: Infantry and Army Educational Corps Record Office, York
    Record Office Number: 20

    I have found that in certain databases, as those above, they are only listed by initial(s), so there is no real way of checking to see if there were 2 people of the same initial and surname which would be which. In this case there appears to be only 1 x B Fortune.
    Part of the problem here would be how does this Brian know to say he was DLI, captured at Dunkirk and therefore a POW for 5 years. I can only assume he had some background on Burton so that Brians 'story' has some skeleton of truth???

    CL1 likes this.
  20. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Even simpler "We'd like it to be true therefore it must be true"
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