Alan Carr Who Do You Think You Are?


Alan Carr

Celebrity genealogy series. Alan Carr explores his family's connection to football and his grandfather's brush with fame, before investigating a mysterious name change.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

I've always been intrigued about, er, genealogy.

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That is genealogy, isn't it? It's not...

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What's the one we look when you're looking at rocks?

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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-Alan Carr has become one of Britain's most popular entertainers.

-Do you do the same as me?

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When someone rings you up in the morning and wakes you up, why do you pretend you've been up for ages?

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LAUGHTER

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His performances on stage, television and radio have made him a household name.

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I mean I'm, like, 35 this year and you start realising your place in life.

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I'm at that stage now where, oh, OK, this is happened, this has happened, this is what people think of you.

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And then you start thinking about your legacy, your heritage,

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what you'll pass on and then you start wondering what you've been given.

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"Oh, have I woken you up?" HUSKY VOICE: "No, I've been up for ages"

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I'm so intrigued just go back.

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And I know a lot of people will probably think that there'll be

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black and white pictures of people, women and men, looking like me with glasses and my teeth going back,

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you know?

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Yeah, I'd like to see where I come from because I don't know where I'm going.

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Alan's travelling north to Newcastle to explore the family history on his father's side.

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I think some people, through my stand-up comedy, will know about my dad

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being a football manager.

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And my dad has sort of become a bit of a comedy foil for me

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being this northerner, this Geordie, this gruff talking...

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You know, "I like what I say and I say what I bloody well like", you know, like that?

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Oh, look, here's me with my dad there.

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The Carr family, where he comes from, people, very working class,

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everyone worked down the mines,

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but my dad wasn't a miner.

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He followed my grandad, who was a footballer and so my dad became a footballer, too.

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Well, it sort of dawned on me pretty quickly that it wasn't really for me.

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Yes, he was disappointed that I wasn't a footballer, but he wasn't Stalin, you know?

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He wasn't, like, beating me! I could just sense the disappointment.

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And when you're younger things get magnified

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and I look back, I mean, I just think he wanted me to be happy, really.

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Alan wants to explore his family's connection with football.

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He's come to meet his father, Graham, at Newcastle United where he works as the Chief Scout.

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Oh, my God!

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Did you think I'd ever come out of this tunnel?

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With a strip on!

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Yeah! You all right?

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Not half! Would you like to play on that pitch?

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Yeah!

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I can't believe it.

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Alan wants to know more about his grandfather, Wilfred Carr.

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He was the first footballer in the family,

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playing here for Newcastle United 80 years ago.

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One thing I don't get, football came first and then the mining.

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-What happened?

-Well, he was in the mines first and I think it was a great opportunity to go in,

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play football. Yeah, this is Newcastle United, 1931-32. Could you pick...

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No looking at the names at the bottom!

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No. I can recognise me own grandad, yeah. Yeah.

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That was him there, yeah.

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Did you ever see grandad play?

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No, no, not at all. No, no. Didn't quite make it here and he went to West Brom hoping for

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a better opportunity and he had a spell at West Brom where he had a knee injury and that finished him.

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And then it was back to the mines, which was the only thing to do in those days.

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He was there until he was 65, so you're talking 35 years

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in the pits.

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I mean did you get any feeling of regret or anything?

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Because I'm thinking if I was a stand-up comedian and then I suddenly

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lost me funny bone, I'd be gutted because I've had a taste of it.

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Did you find him...

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Was he a bit, like,

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not bitter, but was he sad about it?

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Well, I think possibly

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he wanted to carry on as long as he could, you know?

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So, when you finish, I think he was 27 or 28 when he actually finished,

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-and the only thing in the North East at that time was the just the mining.

-Yeah, yeah.

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God, it's funny, isn't it?

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Because people don't understand the Carr knee.

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-You had a bad knee and I've got a bad knee.

-Yes, yeah.

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-But mine isn't through football.

-Yeah.

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Typical, isn't it? I get the

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injury without doing any...

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Yours is from dancing!

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THEY LAUGH

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It's weird that hasn't happened before,

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but me and my dad just taking time to talk about my grandad, Wilf.

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It's weird. And to think that he actually played there.

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It sort of gives me a warm feeling inside to think he was...

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..that he once played on there. I feel like I'm getting closer to him.

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And you've got to understand, the grandad I knew was this man with

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a gammy leg and a stick who talked like that.

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HOARSE VOICE: "Hello, Alan".

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Like that. You can even imagine that he could even walk up those stairs, let alone run around here.

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So, it just didn't dawn on me.

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I mean, you know, this man playing football, getting a knee injury

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and how frustrating it must have been.

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In search of more information about his grandfather's career,

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Alan's arranged to meet historian Robert Colls.

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They've come to the Strawberry Pub, shrine to Newcastle United.

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Right, Alan. Well, I've been digging around in the archive

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for the two years Wilf played for Newcastle, 1928 to 1930.

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And here we have Newcastle United Reserves beating Walker Celtic,

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who are a local side, 3-0. And guess who scores the goals?

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"A goal scored by Carr after 32 minutes gave Newcastle a rather lucky interval lead,

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"but on the resumption the home side kept up a constant attack and Carr completed his hat trick!"

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Get in Wilf! That's great, isn't it?

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-You know what a hat trick is, don't you?

-Yeah. Oh...

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Wow, a hat trick!

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Now, here we have the North East Challenge Cup.

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This time they're playing the deadly enemy, Sunderland.

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-Oh, yes, Sunderland.

-Can we find Carr?

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Here you are. "With the wind in their favour on the resumption

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"it was expected that the Wearsiders would give a much better display,

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"but when Carr put them farther behind in the first two minutes they seemed to give up all hope."

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So, that's good, isn't it?

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-Can't get better.

-No. We've made Sunder... My grandad...

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Look at me, "we"! I'm using "we"!

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-I'm like a proper Geordie. I'm turning Geordie!

-Well, you are.

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"We made Sunderland give up hope."

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Very nice.

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It's funny, because I knew he played, but I didn't know he scored so many goals.

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I didn't even think that he would be like, not worthy, but to be

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in a newspaper and to be talked about like that.

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I remember playing football with him outside as a kid,

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because he couldn't move his leg he was hitting it with his stick, you know?

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And I'm kicking it, going, "Ooh, you're rubbish!"

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You know what I mean? And then he's done all this.

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Although the history of football in England dates back to

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the Middle Ages, the modern game was invented in the 1860s.

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By the time Wilf Carr signed for Newcastle United in 1928, football had become a national obsession.

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But it hadn't always been the sport of the masses.

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Football, really, from about the 1880s was the old rock and roll.

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It comes as a craze.

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Before that, football was a middle class or quite a posh sport played at public schools.

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-Yeah.

-But from the 1880s it becomes a kind of working class craze.

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There seems to be a link, especially with Wilf and I think with the

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Northumberland area, that there's a link, isn't there, between football and mining?

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1882, very interesting year.

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That's the last year an old Etonian team win the FA Cup.

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It's also

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the first time we hear of a recorded Association Football match in a Northumbrian mining village.

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-So, we can say from 1882 it really builds up in Northumberland, football.

-Yeah.

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And, of course, it's a team sport and miners are perfectly built for team sport.

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Every colliery is a little team, really.

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Yeah. Because they're all fit. They must be so fit.

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They're fit and strong and they're competitive.

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So, generations of North East men, miners included, learnt that this was their game, their passion.

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For the coal miners of the North East, football was part of everyday life.

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By the 1920s, each colliery had its own team

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and professional clubs like Newcastle United

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routinely exploited this local pool of athletic young men.

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For these miners, football was the only

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viable alternative to a dangerous and punishing life in the pits.

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Dozens of professional footballers came from the mining villages of Northumbria,

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including Newcastle United's most famous goal scorer, Jackie Milburn,

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and England's World Cup winning brothers, Bobby and Jack Charlton.

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I'm assuming,

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-now that we live in this world where footballers are surviving on 200 grand a week, I mean...

-Poor things!

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Yeah, I know, my heart bleeds!

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He wouldn't

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be on anything near that, would he?

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Well, if you want to know about footballers' wages in the '20s,

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the best rule of thumb, Alan, is to take a working man's wage and roughly double it.

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George Orwell, in the '30s, looks at miners' pay stubs and they're earning around £2 to £3 a week.

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So, Wilf was probably earning about four to six,

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maybe £8 a week in the very short career he had.

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-Yeah.

-And if you asked him, if he was sitting there now,

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and you said, "What was it like, Wilf?", he'd say, "Great.

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"I was earning twice the average and I was a star."

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Just hearing all this,

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I just feel the frustration on my grandad's side when he got that knee injury.

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It must have been gutting.

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What would happen then, if his knee...

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Did the money just stop?

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I suppose he wasn't going to get any,

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you know, any money or compensation or anything.

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-Who'd want a footballer with a bad knee?

-I know.

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It's true that when he got his injury, his footballing career and his stardom would be cut dead.

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-Yeah, yeah.

-Dead. But, there again, this is a man who is a coal miner.

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-He knows about being injured suddenly.

-Yeah.

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He probably knows men who've had their backs broken or had been killed, Alan.

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This is a time when 700 coal miners were killed every year.

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A battalion of the British Army, equivalent, is being killed every year in the 1920s in the pits.

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-Yeah.

-So, Wilf would know all about sudden ends.

-Yeah.

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Wilf Carr's short-lived football career ended when he was just 25.

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He had no choice but to return to the pits where he saw out the rest of his working life.

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But he did see his own son, Alan's father, Graham,

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enjoy a long and successful career in professional football.

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Such a shame, to have a taste of what it's like and then to have it taken away.

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Because if he was rubbish at football and he was just down the pits anyway,

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you know? But it's almost sadder that he's had

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a taste of this, whoo, scoring the hat tricks and the goals and everyone cheering, and the next thing you know

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he's filling a tub up full of coal for eight hours a day underground.

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The taste of it just makes that a little bit sadder.

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Before Alan's grandfather Wilf, the Carrs had worked in the same pit in Northumbria for generations.

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But the family history on Alan's maternal side is not so straightforward.

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I'm going to go and see my mum and do my mum's side of the family.

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But with my mum's, it is a genuine mystery.

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After my grandad Carter, which is her dad, my grandad, it stops.

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And I think that there was talk in the family of a name change and no-one can ever clarify anything.

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I love a mystery and...

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I smell a rat in the Carter family, in the best possible sense!

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Alan's come to his parents' house in Northampton, where he grew up, to talk to his mother.

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Hello?

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It's your son, Alan.

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-Hello!

-Hello.

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-Ahh...

-Had a nice drive up?

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-Yeah. It was good, yeah.

-Good.

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-Hello, Alan.

-Hello.

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-Nice to see you.

-Yeah. Nice day for it, isn't it?

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It is, lovely. Lovely.

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Right. I've done you, your family, now I've got to do you.

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-Right.

-What's in store?

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Alan wants to know about his mother's family,

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the Carters, beginning with his grandfather, Cyril Carter, who died when Alan was a child.

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Now this is him

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-in the Navy.

-Wow!

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You're going to have to put this in a frame, aren't you?

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I mean it's just a great picture.

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-I will, yeah.

-I've never seen him in his prime.

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-No, no.

-And that's the only photo I've got, isn't it?

-Of you and him?

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Me and him, yeah, yeah.

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Yeah.

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So, what do you know about my grandad, your dad, Cyril's mum and dad? Do you know anything at all?

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-Well, I've done a little bit of research.

-Yeah.

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And his mum's name was Maria Annie Wayman.

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And she'd been married before, before she met my grandad.

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In 1905 she married Thomas Laing

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and she had a son called Tom Laing.

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But when she left Thomas Laing, I do not know.

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Whether she was divorced, don't know.

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What about the dad?

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About Cyril's dad?

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Well, I know his name was Henry Carter, but when Mum,

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my mum, first met the family, she said the name was Mercer.

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So, there's a name change somewhere.

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But why would you change your name?

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I don't know.

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So, are there any records of Henry marrying Maria?

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Not that I've found, no.

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So, what happened to Thomas Laing, the first husband, did he die?

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We don't know.

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OK, right.

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-So, Maria Annie Wayman, my great grandma...

-Yes.

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Yeah? Marries Thomas Laing

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and then for some reason, we don't know why,

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Maria meets Henry Carter slash Mercer...

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..and then they have my grandad, Cyril.

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Plus 12 others.

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Plus 12 others.

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Not forgetting Tom Laing, the half brother that she had with Thomas Laing.

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Yeah.

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I think I need a drink.

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That's a lot of information.

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-You know Cyril's siblings?

-Yes.

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Are any of them still alive?

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Not that I know of.

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Oh.

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Alan's grandfather, Cyril,

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was one of 12 children born to Henry Carter and Maria Annie Wayman.

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Although his mother has lost touch with the Carter family,

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Alan has discovered that his grandfather's youngest sibling is alive and well.

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Alan's tracked down his great aunt Doreen, still living in Crayford, Kent, where she was born and raised.

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She's invited Alan to a Carter family reunion.

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Hello!

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Hello, my long lost family!

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I'm here, I'm here!

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CHEERING

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So, who's Doreen? Who's Doreen?

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-I am.

-Oh! Ahh.

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How are you?

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Yeah, you're my great aunt!

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-Yeah, I know.

-I've never met you before.

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Oh, I've met you when you was like that.

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Really? Was I as good looking then as I am now?

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-Oh, you're beautiful, you are.

-But before the teeth came through.

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-I'll tell you what, you look much more good looking than on the telly.

-Oh!

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-I think so.

-I'll come here again.

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You look lovely, very pretty.

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Alan hopes that Doreen might know more about his great grandparents

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and the mystery of the Carter Mercer name change.

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That's my mother.

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-Oh, there she is.

-Yeah.

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So, that's my great grandmother.

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-That's right.

-Wow! She's pretty, isn't she?

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Yeah. She was a lovely woman.

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-Do you know where your mother comes from? Where she originates from?

-Yes.

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I think it was Dulwich somewhere.

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-Dulwich?

-Dulwich. I think so, yeah.

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-But they both came from that area.

-Dulwich, yeah, yeah.

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-Either Bermondsey or Camberwell, they come from that area.

-Yeah.

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So where's Henry, my great grandad?

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There you are. That's him there, Richard.

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I thought he was called Henry.

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-So, obviously...

-Yeah.

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-It is Richard Henry.

-Richard. But did he like people to call him Henry?

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No, I didn't think so.

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-He always signed his name, if he had to, Richard.

-Yeah.

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His death certificate is in Richard Henry.

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Yeah. It's just that my mum always used to say, "Oh, Henry! It's Henry!"

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That's why I've got it in my head.

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Yeah. Oh, dear.

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-Do you know anything about this surname?

-No.

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Mercer. Mercer and then Carter and...

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The only thing I said is maybe they weren't married and maybe this is why he changed his name.

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-Yeah.

-Because she had a husband that was named Laing.

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I heard, Thomas Laing.

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-That's right.

-Yeah.

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Thomas Laing.

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And if they weren't married, they've come down to Crayford together,

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it could have been to get away from Mr Laing, couldn't it be?

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Oh, yes. Yeah. Start a new life.

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All my nephews think this.

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Did your mum ever talk about that or anything?

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Never. Never. And nor did my dad.

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-Oh, right.

-Never said a word.

0:21:490:21:52

-So, so far we've got Richard coming down, Richard Henry coming down...

-With Anne Marie.

-Anne Marie.

0:21:520:21:58

And then they started a family which includes you, Cyril, Dolly, Wally, everyone, yeah, yeah.

0:21:580:22:05

That's right, yeah, yeah.

0:22:050:22:06

-But you don't know where this Mercer comes from?

-No, I do not know.

0:22:060:22:10

If you find out, Alan...

0:22:100:22:12

Oh, well, you haven't seen the last of me!

0:22:120:22:15

I'll be back. I'll be back.

0:22:150:22:16

Well, I've gone to find out about Henry

0:22:240:22:27

Carter and I've found out through Doreen that he was called Richard to everyone.

0:22:270:22:34

It was on his death certificate. Even Cyril, my grandad, called him Richard.

0:22:340:22:39

So that's a bit weird.

0:22:390:22:41

So, I need to find out about that.

0:22:410:22:43

And also this Mercer Carter thing.

0:22:430:22:46

Even Doreen didn't know and none of them talked about it.

0:22:460:22:51

So, I've gone looking for answers and actually I've found more questions.

0:22:510:22:56

Alan's great grandparents, Henry and Maria, were both born and raised in London.

0:22:590:23:05

According to Doreen, they moved away to Crayford, Kent, shortly after they got together.

0:23:050:23:12

Alan's returned to south London,

0:23:210:23:24

-where his great grandparents grew up.

-Hello.

0:23:240:23:28

-Hello, June.

-Hello, Alan, nice to meet you.

0:23:280:23:30

-All right?

-Yes, I'm fine, thank you.

-He's asked historian June Balshaw

0:23:300:23:35

to find any official records that might help him piece together their lives here.

0:23:350:23:41

So, I've got a series of certificates here that I've found.

0:23:430:23:47

The first one is the birth certificate

0:23:470:23:50

of Henry Carter.

0:23:500:23:52

Where's the Richard come from?

0:23:520:23:55

Richard?

0:23:550:23:56

Because everyone calls him Richard

0:23:560:23:59

Henry, and I, I've looked there... Oh, that's...

0:23:590:24:03

It could be that that was a name that he used later on or it could be it was a middle name.

0:24:030:24:08

-They didn't always get recorded on the birth certificate.

-Oh, OK.

0:24:080:24:11

-But, certainly, when he was born he was put down as Henry.

-Yeah.

0:24:110:24:15

So, now I'm going to show you a marriage certificate and this is

0:24:150:24:20

the marriage certificate of Thomas Laing and Maria Annie Wayman.

0:24:200:24:25

-Yeah.

-They marry in October, 1905

0:24:250:24:29

and then we can see what their ages are here.

0:24:290:24:33

An 11-year difference.

0:24:330:24:35

-Is that quite a big...?

-It's quite a big gap.

0:24:350:24:38

Thomas is 30, Maria's 19.

0:24:380:24:40

Now, the next certificate I have is July, 1906.

0:24:400:24:46

Almost nine months to the day after they're married

0:24:460:24:50

Maria and Thomas have their first child and his name is...

0:24:500:24:56

Thomas Laing, after the dad. Yes.

0:24:560:24:59

And then in April 1908 they have a second child.

0:24:590:25:05

So, where does Henry, my great...

0:25:060:25:11

my great grandad stand in all this?

0:25:110:25:13

Well, let's move forward to the census of 1911

0:25:130:25:18

-and a rather different picture begins to emerge.

-Oh, OK.

0:25:180:25:23

Here we have

0:25:230:25:25

Henry Carter

0:25:250:25:27

-aged 24.

-Yeah.

0:25:270:25:29

-Single.

-Yeah.

0:25:290:25:31

And boarding in his house is Annie Laing.

0:25:310:25:35

Oh, I see! They're getting closer, they're getting closer.

0:25:350:25:39

It recognises that she has two children and what I have been

0:25:390:25:44

able to find is that they are on the census living with her father.

0:25:440:25:50

-Yeah.

-So, the boys are safe and well, but they're not with her, they're with her father.

-Yeah.

0:25:500:25:55

And there's no sign of Thomas Laing.

0:25:550:25:58

So, we don't know why Maria and Thomas split up.

0:25:580:26:01

It could be that Maria had met Henry and decided that he was the one for her.

0:26:010:26:07

-Or it could be that she had a very difficult time with Thomas.

-Yeah.

0:26:070:26:12

But what this signals is the start of Annie, as she's calling herself here,

0:26:120:26:17

giving birth to quite a lot of children with Henry Carter.

0:26:170:26:23

-Yeah.

-And, in fact, Annie gives birth to several sets of twins.

0:26:230:26:28

-OK.

-So, twins are born in 1916 and he is now, bearing in mind this

0:26:280:26:36

is during the First World War, he's now a labourer at Vickers.

0:26:360:26:40

-Vickers?

-Which was based at Crayford and during the First World War they built...

-Built armaments.

0:26:400:26:46

-They did, and they built guns.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:26:460:26:48

So, they've moved away from where they were living, away from south London to Crayford.

0:26:480:26:53

It's not a million miles away, but it's certainly enough to

0:26:530:26:56

-put some distance between themselves and the past.

-Right. OK.

0:26:560:27:01

Finally, July 1938, when they've been together for a good few years,

0:27:010:27:09

and they're both 51 years old, Maria and Henry get married.

0:27:090:27:13

-Ah! That's closed the door after the horse as bolted, isn't it really?

-It is.

0:27:130:27:19

-But it also begs the question, why did they wait so long?

-Yeah.

0:27:190:27:24

Now, this is the first time she's putting herself down as a widow.

0:27:240:27:29

-Now that would suggest that Thomas Laing...

-Has died.

-..has died.

0:27:290:27:33

I mean, that's great about that marriage certificate, because Doreen didn't even know.

0:27:330:27:40

She couldn't even find a marriage certificate.

0:27:400:27:42

But I just love the way it feels like they're doing the right thing.

0:27:420:27:48

Doreen planted the seed yesterday that maybe they had changed their

0:27:480:27:51

names and moved to Crayford to escape the Laings.

0:27:510:27:55

Do you reckon they could have been on the run from Thomas Laing?

0:27:550:27:59

If it was the case that they wanted to escape from Thomas Laing,

0:27:590:28:05

then there are a number of options open to them, which could involve

0:28:050:28:09

name changes, could involve the moving to a new area.

0:28:090:28:13

But what I would suggest you need to do next is see what you can find out about Henry.

0:28:130:28:18

Because we know from the birth certificates of some of the children

0:28:180:28:22

that he was working at Vickers during the war, but was he there during the whole of the war?

0:28:220:28:27

We don't know. And that's the direction I would head in next if I were you.

0:28:270:28:31

Right, OK, yeah. Okey doke, I will.

0:28:310:28:34

I mean, obviously, I can only speculate so much because there are big gaping holes in it, but

0:28:430:28:49

maybe Thomas Laing was a bit of a drifter. She fell in love with Henry.

0:28:490:28:53

They came away to Crayford.

0:28:530:28:55

They changed their name and lived happily ever after with, you know...

0:28:550:29:00

Well, they must of because they had about 12 kids!

0:29:000:29:03

Yeah. I don't know, maybe I'm biased because I've met with the Carters now and I'm, like, one of them.

0:29:050:29:11

Maybe I am a bit more, "He can't do no wrong, Henry Carter."

0:29:110:29:16

It just seems a bit weird, doesn't it, leaving and taking the kids with you?

0:29:160:29:23

Although Alan knows that his great grandfather was at home working in Crayford in 1916, he doesn't know

0:29:270:29:34

what he was doing during the rest of the First World War.

0:29:340:29:39

He's asked Nigel Steel from the Imperial War Museum to help him find out more.

0:29:420:29:48

They're meeting at the historic home of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich

0:29:480:29:52

to view Henry Carter's Service Record.

0:29:520:29:55

Nigel, what have we got here?

0:29:590:30:01

This is the attestation form, this is where he signals his willingness to become a soldier.

0:30:010:30:06

He's signing up short service, for the duration of the war.

0:30:060:30:10

So, basically, at the age of 28 he did, he joined the Army,

0:30:100:30:14

he did what he thought was best for Britain.

0:30:140:30:16

Yeah. He joins up and one of the interesting things,

0:30:160:30:19

if you come back to the, to the date, 28th April,

0:30:190:30:21

-the war's really just beginning to warm up.

-Yeah.

0:30:210:30:24

Because from a historical point of view, it has been quiet over wintertime.

0:30:240:30:27

And so when he enlisted, he might have thought it was reasonably quiet

0:30:270:30:31

-and had this idea that the war's running to an end.

-Yeah.

0:30:310:30:34

-But within a few weeks he'd have realised that there was major stuff going on.

-Yeah.

0:30:340:30:38

-The first big battles were all rolling out and it's kicking off with a new campaign season.

-Yeah.

0:30:380:30:42

In the first two years of World War One,

0:30:470:30:50

before the introduction of conscription in 1916,

0:30:500:30:53

the War Secretary, Lord Kitchener,

0:30:530:30:57

spearheaded a major recruitment campaign,

0:30:570:31:00

urging every man to do his bit for King and Country.

0:31:000:31:03

When Henry Carter enlisted in April, 1915,

0:31:060:31:09

at the tail end of this patriotic surge,

0:31:090:31:11

many believed that the worst of the war was already over.

0:31:110:31:16

So what did he do in the war?

0:31:200:31:22

Well, from these documents, we know that he becomes a driver

0:31:220:31:28

in the Divisional Ammunition Column, um, Field Artillery Camberwell.

0:31:280:31:33

What's unusual about Camberwell is it formed its own Artillery Unit

0:31:330:31:37

and they managed to recruit between January and June enough people

0:31:370:31:41

to create a whole of an artillery brigade.

0:31:410:31:43

So, basically, a group of people in Camberwell said,

0:31:430:31:46

-"Right, let's do our bit."

-That's right.

0:31:460:31:48

And Henry's gone, "Yeah, I'll...yeah, count me in, I'll do it, too."

0:31:480:31:51

That's what it would appear to be, because he's right in the middle at this recruiting period

0:31:510:31:56

and the Camberwell Artillery

0:31:560:31:58

have a farewell parade

0:31:580:32:00

through the streets of Dulwich and Camberwell.

0:32:000:32:02

Oh, look!

0:32:060:32:08

This is, we have every reason to think,

0:32:080:32:11

-that Henry would have driven in his wagon through Camberwell as part of 4,300 Officers and men.

-Yeah.

0:32:110:32:17

-Parade through Camberwell.

-So, and that would have fired him up,

0:32:170:32:20

-walking along all these places where he'd...

-I'd imagine it was.

0:32:200:32:23

To have gone to the trouble of producing all this and having it listed,

0:32:230:32:27

this would have been a grand day. And I would have thought

0:32:270:32:29

it's through something like this that you really can feel that strong sense of civic pride.

0:32:290:32:34

-Yeah.

-These are our men, these are our boys,

0:32:340:32:37

-doing us proud and going off to the front.

-Yeah.

0:32:370:32:39

Wonderful.

0:32:390:32:41

The Camberwell Artillery was made up of men who'd volunteered

0:32:520:32:56

to fight alongside their friends and neighbours

0:32:560:32:59

in a specially-created local regiment.

0:32:590:33:01

-This was one of the so-called Pals Battalions

0:33:030:33:07

that helped make up Lord Kitchener's new army.

0:33:070:33:10

Introduced in 1914,

0:33:120:33:14

predominantly in the industrial towns and cities of the north,

0:33:140:33:18

over 50 of these Pals Battalions were formed,

0:33:180:33:21

comprising around 2.5 million men.

0:33:210:33:25

Men who would form the backbone

0:33:260:33:29

of the British fighting force on the Western front.

0:33:290:33:32

The Camberwell Artillery is drawn in to the 33rd Division.

0:33:340:33:39

Um, and 33rd Division,

0:33:390:33:41

we can see if you look at the published history of the 33rd Division,

0:33:410:33:45

from the end of 1915 onwards,

0:33:450:33:48

becomes a very kind of hard-fighting battle division.

0:33:480:33:52

It's involved in some of the key stages of the war,

0:33:520:33:56

-the bits that people will know about.

-Yeah.

0:33:560:33:58

I'm not like you, I don't know about World War One, I'm not a specialist,

0:33:580:34:01

but Battle of the Somme, even I know how grim, grim and devastating that was.

0:34:010:34:07

Then we go forward into the Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele,

0:34:070:34:10

-people would know...

-That's, that's...

-Go through that.

0:34:100:34:14

Then in 1918, they stand firm when the Germans attack up in Flanders,

0:34:140:34:17

and then they're involved in the final phase.

0:34:170:34:20

And the 33rd Division ends the war with a total of casualties

0:34:200:34:24

-of over 37,000. That's killed, wounded, missing, everything, which is...

-37,000!

0:34:240:34:29

37,000.

0:34:290:34:31

Have you got any more information on him or...this Henry?

0:34:310:34:35

We do, actually. It's a very interesting file.

0:34:350:34:37

-What we've got here is a conduct sheet.

-OK.

0:34:370:34:41

OK. And so the first thing happens at the beginning of June, 1915.

0:34:410:34:45

-What happens is he goes absent without leave.

-Oh.

0:34:450:34:48

Only for a day in this one. So you can see

0:34:480:34:52

from 8th June through to 9th June. And this isn't...

0:34:520:34:55

-this happens to a lot of people, I think.

-Yeah.

-He just overstays and gets drunk, oversleeps,

0:34:550:35:00

whatever it would be, they don't treat it very badly. But then, 3rd August,

0:35:000:35:04

which is exactly the period where the artillery units from Camberwell

0:35:040:35:08

are all going on nightly trains down to Salisbury Plain to get their...

0:35:080:35:12

-start cranking up, get their proper guns, does it again.

-Oh, no!

0:35:120:35:17

So he, he stays at home, er, for another 24 hours.

0:35:170:35:20

-But what is interesting, on 3rd September...

-Yeah.

0:35:200:35:24

..he obviously is back home, he's gone back to Wakeley Street

0:35:240:35:27

on some leave, and it gets a little bit more serious

0:35:270:35:29

because you can see, after four days,

0:35:290:35:33

he still hasn't turned back up again.

0:35:330:35:36

-He doesn't want to go, does he?

-He doesn't want to go.

0:35:360:35:39

-He doesn't want to come back again. I think he's beginning to think...

-"This maybe isn't for me", yeah.

0:35:390:35:45

And so on 13th September, he leaves again,

0:35:450:35:49

and he doesn't come back.

0:35:490:35:50

Oh, no.

0:35:500:35:52

So they hold the Court of Inquiry a month later

0:35:520:35:55

and you can see that what then effectively becomes,

0:35:550:35:58

if you come down to here,

0:35:580:35:59

-is he's deserted.

-Oh, no.

0:35:590:36:02

So classified as a deserter on 13th September, 1915.

0:36:020:36:05

Henry Carter joined up in April 1915.

0:36:080:36:12

Although the year had begun quietly,

0:36:120:36:15

his enlistment coincided with the beginning of a series of devastating battles,

0:36:150:36:20

starting with the Second Battle of Ypres.

0:36:200:36:24

By the time Henry deserted in September,

0:36:240:36:27

it was clear that this was going to be a long and costly conflict.

0:36:270:36:31

You can see in some of the rest of these papers here,

0:36:340:36:37

is they're looking through, recording how much pay he's not going to get.

0:36:370:36:40

-Mm.

-How much he'd earned. "Unable to find..." They can't find his wife.

0:36:400:36:45

They tried his mother. They're looking for him here.

0:36:450:36:48

Months later, it's quite true, this isn't a mistake,

0:36:480:36:50

-he's not overstayed his leave by this time.

-What does that say? Can I just see that?

0:36:500:36:55

"Reserve...The last address held by...of his wife is at 58 Wakeley Road."

0:36:550:37:00

So am I right in thinking they've turned up there and the wife's not there?

0:37:000:37:04

Anna Marie Wayman has gone?

0:37:040:37:05

Everybody's gone.

0:37:050:37:08

Oh.

0:37:080:37:09

Only his mother is still at home

0:37:090:37:11

and she doesn't know where they've gone.

0:37:110:37:14

You see, I'm torn now, because, you know,

0:37:140:37:16

when you said deserter, I was a bit embarrassed and that.

0:37:160:37:19

-But then when you told me that statistic of the 33rd Division.

-Yeah.

0:37:190:37:24

You might think, "Oh, you coward, you let down your country."

0:37:240:37:27

But then you could see, "You know what? You weren't."

0:37:270:37:31

You know, yeah, "You're not stupid."

0:37:310:37:33

He was clever enough to figure out that if he was going to do it,

0:37:330:37:36

he needs to do it now, whilst they're still at home,

0:37:360:37:39

while he can sort it out, because if he waited six months and he got to France,

0:37:390:37:44

there's no way he could have done this.

0:37:440:37:46

OK, I'm going to be honest with you.

0:37:530:37:56

Henry Carter in a....

0:37:560:37:58

"Your Country Needs You" kind of thing is... It's embarrassing.

0:37:580:38:03

You know, he's a deserter.

0:38:030:38:05

But I can't help thinking of him in a human sense, you know.

0:38:050:38:10

He's got the wife at home, you know,

0:38:100:38:13

he's got those two kids, you know,

0:38:130:38:16

and, in a way, it was cowardly but in a way it was brave.

0:38:160:38:20

It's obvious now that he wasn't escaping the first husband.

0:38:200:38:24

He was actually escaping the First World War,

0:38:240:38:26

that's why the name changed and that's why they went to Crayford

0:38:260:38:30

and changed their name.

0:38:300:38:32

I think the Mercers, I think that's becoming really clear now.

0:38:320:38:36

Um, so in a way, Thomas Laing's...

0:38:360:38:39

we've got bigger fish to fry now, he's a deserter.

0:38:390:38:42

Hello, Mum, it's me, Alan.

0:38:480:38:51

Oh, God, well I...

0:38:510:38:53

I spoke to this artillery expert,

0:38:530:38:56

he's told me so much about Henry Carter you won't believe.

0:38:560:38:59

Henry's desertion is a family secret

0:39:020:39:05

that has remained hidden for generations.

0:39:050:39:09

..he just disappears.

0:39:090:39:11

Well, that's it, he's gone.

0:39:120:39:14

He's just gone. He's deserted.

0:39:140:39:17

And they go round to Anna Marie Wayman with the kids, to the address -

0:39:170:39:22

they've gone, too.

0:39:220:39:24

They've all gone.

0:39:250:39:27

And, I mean, the man was saying about, "Oh, the 33rd Battalion,

0:39:270:39:31

"they fought in the Somme, they fought in the Battle of Arras,

0:39:310:39:34

"and Ypres.." and I'm, and I'm like, "Oh, my God!"

0:39:340:39:37

And he said that like 30,000 people died.

0:39:370:39:40

And I'm like, "Oh, my God, so he's a survivor."

0:39:400:39:43

And then I said to him, "No wonder he bloomin' survived the Somme,"

0:39:430:39:46

he weren't even there!

0:39:460:39:47

I know, I know. But do you know what, Mum,

0:39:500:39:53

I said if he had gone, he would have been dead and we wouldn't be here.

0:39:530:39:56

Over half of the five million British men who joined up

0:39:590:40:02

during World War One were wounded or killed in action.

0:40:020:40:07

A choice to desert may have saved Henry's life.

0:40:100:40:13

But it also made him a wanted man.

0:40:130:40:16

Alan wants to know what happened to his great-grandfather next.

0:40:210:40:26

He's visiting Winchester's Military Museums,

0:40:290:40:33

home to the archive of the Army Legal Services.

0:40:330:40:36

Alan's meeting historian Edward Madigan.

0:40:380:40:41

I found out yesterday

0:40:420:40:44

that my great-grandad Henry Carter was a deserter.

0:40:440:40:48

What...what are the implications... What would his life be like if you deserted?

0:40:500:40:56

Would you be stigmatised? Would people be after you?

0:40:560:40:59

Well, your great-grandfather's case is fascinating.

0:40:590:41:01

We know quite a bit about men who deserted at the front.

0:41:010:41:05

So on the Western Front or one of the other theatres of war

0:41:050:41:08

and what happened to them. There's been a lot of attention from historians and the press

0:41:080:41:12

and many of them were executed. So we're quite familiar with all of this.

0:41:120:41:16

Domestic desertion, which was the case of your great-grandfather,

0:41:160:41:19

we know a lot less about that.

0:41:190:41:21

So he went missing on September 13th, 1915.

0:41:210:41:25

The very next day, his name appears in the Police Gazette.

0:41:250:41:29

-H Carter.

-Yeah.

-That's your great-grandfather there.

0:41:300:41:33

This would have been circulated to police constables,

0:41:330:41:36

um, to give lists of men who were on the run.

0:41:360:41:40

He appears again in the Police Gazette a few weeks later,

0:41:410:41:44

see him here, on the second page.

0:41:440:41:47

-Henry Carter.

-Yeah.

0:41:470:41:48

And for men who went on the run, life was tough.

0:41:480:41:53

I mean, every police constable, every military policeman in the land

0:41:530:41:56

-was constantly on the look-out for deserters.

-Yeah.

0:41:560:41:59

So any men acting suspiciously were liable to be...

0:41:590:42:01

And I'm assuming, just by the fact of being a man,

0:42:010:42:05

people are like, "Why aren't you fighting the war?" Was that the case?

0:42:050:42:10

That's a good point, and especially after conscription was introduced.

0:42:100:42:13

At that stage, from early 1916 onwards, theoretically,

0:42:130:42:16

-every young man in the country, and Henry was only 28...

-Yeah.

0:42:160:42:19

-..um, had to be either fighting in uniform...

-Yeah.

0:42:190:42:22

-..or doing some sort of specific war work.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:42:220:42:26

By May, 1916, although some skilled workers were exempt,

0:42:280:42:33

conscription had been introduced for all able-bodied men

0:42:330:42:37

between the ages of 18 and 41...

0:42:370:42:40

..making life increasingly difficult for deserters like Henry Carter.

0:42:420:42:46

What kind of punishment would be dished out to him if he got caught?

0:42:500:42:54

Well, desertion was an extremely serious offence during the First World War,

0:42:540:42:58

and military justice,

0:42:580:43:00

even by the standards of the time, um, was very harsh and unforgiving.

0:43:000:43:06

The maximum penalty for desertion in wartime was death,

0:43:060:43:10

and you can see it's very clear here in this Book of Regulations.

0:43:100:43:14

"Deserting the service, maximum punishment - death."

0:43:140:43:18

Crucially, however, he didn't desert at the front.

0:43:180:43:21

Not in active service. He was at home, so he was a domestic deserter.

0:43:210:43:25

And the situation there was quite different.

0:43:250:43:27

In this case, Henry, if he was caught, he would have gone before a District Court Martial.

0:43:270:43:32

Now, a District Court Martial was empowered really only

0:43:320:43:35

to sentence men to two years in prison with hard labour.

0:43:350:43:38

So, still quite serious, but not a capital offence.

0:43:380:43:41

-So not a question of life and death.

-Phew, two years hard labour.

-Tough.

0:43:410:43:45

-Absolutely.

-Oh, dear!

0:43:450:43:48

Are you always... Is it once a deserter, always a deserter?

0:43:480:43:51

Was there ever an amnesty?

0:43:510:43:53

Or would Henry Carter have that for all his life,

0:43:530:43:55

looking over his shoulder?

0:43:550:43:57

Well, in the couple of years after the war, 1919/1920,

0:43:570:44:00

deserters were still very actively pursued.

0:44:000:44:03

There's a debate in the House of Commons in 1923

0:44:030:44:06

where they raised this issue about should we introduce an amnesty for wartime deserters.

0:44:060:44:11

They don't. Deserter, that tag of deserter,

0:44:110:44:14

really would have stayed with him for the rest of his life.

0:44:140:44:17

During World War One,

0:44:210:44:23

around 50,000 men were officially listed as deserting,

0:44:230:44:28

or going absent without leave,

0:44:280:44:30

abroad and at home,

0:44:300:44:33

where every civil and military policeman

0:44:330:44:35

would have been constantly on the look-out.

0:44:350:44:38

It's sort of, um,

0:44:400:44:42

cos you sort of get told at school that everyone's like,

0:44:420:44:45

"Yeah, let's fight, let's fight." And it's almost quite...

0:44:450:44:49

I sort of warm to him a bit cos he maybe had the know-how

0:44:490:44:52

to go, "Wait a minute, this isn't all, yeah, let's fight for our country."

0:44:520:44:56

He sort of had a reality check. I mean would that...

0:44:560:45:01

Were people walking blindly into a war or were people going,

0:45:010:45:05

"This isn't going to be over by Christmas.

0:45:050:45:08

"We're going to come back maimed or..." Is that true?

0:45:080:45:12

-Well, this is what makes these cases so fascinating.

-Yeah.

0:45:120:45:16

-Millions of men volunteered.

-Yeah.

0:45:160:45:18

But, obviously, and this case really proves this,

0:45:180:45:21

-significant numbers of men...

-Yeah.

0:45:210:45:23

..joined up in haste or were conscripted later on,

0:45:230:45:25

-and decided very quickly that army life wasn't for them.

-Yeah. Yeah.

0:45:250:45:29

Now, I've got some interesting press reports here.

0:45:290:45:32

The detailed cases of men who were tried for domestic desertion.

0:45:320:45:36

And there's some really fascinating detail in this.

0:45:360:45:39

"Confession of an alleged deserter."

0:45:390:45:42

"The truth is I'm not entitled to the Victoria Cross.

0:45:440:45:48

"The one I've been wearing I bought out of a curiosity shop

0:45:480:45:51

"for 30 shilling about a fortnight ago.

0:45:510:45:54

"I have never been in France and the statement made by me

0:45:540:45:58

"to the effect that I was presented with the Victoria Cross by King George in France is untrue."

0:45:580:46:04

-He's basically a pathological liar.

-Yeah, he's a... He's a villain, all right.

0:46:040:46:08

-Another interesting case.

-Oh, dear!

0:46:080:46:11

"Deserter disguised as a woman."

0:46:110:46:14

-Is this for real?

-I'm afraid so, yeah.

0:46:140:46:17

"The police sergeant touching one of the woman's curls

0:46:170:46:20

"found that it came away in his hand." Oh, dear!

0:46:200:46:25

"The 'woman' thereupon confessed to being a man and to attempt to desert.

0:46:250:46:31

"He said his wife had cut off some of her hair so that he could wear it."

0:46:310:46:36

I know my great-grandad deserted but he never resorted to dressing up as a woman.

0:46:360:46:41

-Well, at least you have that, OK.

-At least I've got that.

0:46:410:46:45

But you know I was laughing about this deserter disguised as a woman,

0:46:450:46:49

I know it's quite comical now...

0:46:490:46:52

-but how desperate.

-Mm.

0:46:520:46:54

And like with the woman helping, you know, his wife helping him.

0:46:540:46:57

-The wife doesn't want him to go to war.

-No, no.

-She wants him there.

0:46:570:47:01

There's a story in the Carter family that Henry changed his name.

0:47:010:47:07

Would that be something a deserter would do? Was it easy to do?

0:47:080:47:13

-Would that makes sense?

-Yeah.

0:47:130:47:15

-I mean this was a really common tactic, changing your name, assuming an alias.

-OK.

0:47:150:47:19

It was something deserters did.

0:47:190:47:22

And criminals generally did all the time.

0:47:220:47:24

Establishing a new life for yourself was much easier in 1915

0:47:240:47:28

-and 1916 than it would be today.

-Yeah.

0:47:280:47:30

The average citizen didn't really leave much of a paper trail that you could trace him by.

0:47:300:47:34

So I think if Henry managed to change his name,

0:47:340:47:37

-to get outside London and establish a new life for himself...

-Yeah.

0:47:370:47:41

..once he'd done that, if he kept a low profile,

0:47:410:47:43

his chances of remaining at large and not being caught

0:47:430:47:46

-were reasonably good.

-OK.

0:47:460:47:49

Henry Carter's desertion may have provided a motive

0:47:550:47:58

for his alleged name change.

0:47:580:48:00

But Alan has kept copies of all the documents he's seen so far.

0:48:010:48:05

And looking through the birth certificates of his great-grandfather's children,

0:48:050:48:10

he's not convinced.

0:48:100:48:12

I understand with someone on the run,

0:48:140:48:16

and being a wanted man, I've seen the Police Gazette thing, I mean, he was a wanted man,

0:48:160:48:20

I can understand him changing his name, calling it Mercers,

0:48:200:48:23

and like the man said, you know,

0:48:230:48:25

having an alias was common in those days.

0:48:250:48:28

My mum said, "He was called a Mercer and all these people called Mercer."

0:48:280:48:32

However, we look at these birth certificates,

0:48:320:48:36

you know, there's nearly something every year here and he's always called Henry Carter

0:48:360:48:41

like 1914, 1916, 1916, 19...all through the war he's still calling himself Henry Carter, so...

0:48:410:48:47

I understand why you would change your name

0:48:470:48:51

but I can't see any proof that he did.

0:48:510:48:53

Alan knows that by 1916,

0:49:030:49:05

his great-grandparents were living in Crayford in Kent.

0:49:050:49:10

He's come to the Centre for Kentish Studies

0:49:120:49:15

where he's asked historian Sandra Dunster

0:49:150:49:17

to help him resolve the story of his great-grandfather's name change.

0:49:170:49:23

-I've got Henry here and he's on the run.

-OK.

0:49:250:49:28

-He's deserted.

-Right.

-And he's taken his family with him.

0:49:280:49:31

And there is talk in the Carter family of a name change,

0:49:310:49:36

-he changed his name to Mercer.

-Right.

0:49:360:49:38

And I've got all these documents here

0:49:380:49:41

and some of them are nearly every year, and he's always Henry Carter.

0:49:410:49:46

I'm just thinking why, if you're on the run,

0:49:460:49:48

why would you put your name and address on the birth certificate?

0:49:480:49:51

He's not...he's not hiding it very well, in fact he's being open about it,

0:49:510:49:55

which I wouldn't expect from someone who was on the run.

0:49:550:49:58

I think it's a question of looking at how the police might have gone to try and find somebody.

0:49:580:50:02

-Yeah.

-They're unlikely to have looked through every single birth certificate,

0:50:020:50:06

death certificate, marriage certificate that was ever produced.

0:50:060:50:10

-So that sounds ridiculous. Why?

-Well, I think,

0:50:100:50:12

you have to think about the number of certificates that are produced,

0:50:120:50:16

the number of children that are born in, what, the whole of south London,

0:50:160:50:20

North Kent, that area, he could be anywhere in the country.

0:50:200:50:24

They're more likely to look at things like rent books,

0:50:240:50:27

-electoral registers and so on.

-Yeah.

0:50:270:50:30

Long before computerised records, the authorities' strategy

0:50:330:50:37

for tracking down deserters

0:50:370:50:40

focused on records relating to everyday life.

0:50:400:50:43

Have you got anything at all? Do you know where he was living?

0:50:450:50:48

I've got it here.

0:50:480:50:49

Should be here somewhere.

0:50:490:50:52

-In 1916, he arrives at Star Hill in Crayford.

-OK.

0:50:520:50:59

-And he's working at Vickers.

-Right.

0:50:590:51:02

As a labourer.

0:51:020:51:04

-In 1919, he's in 58 Barnes Cray Walk, Crayford.

-OK.

0:51:040:51:10

Well, in that case, what we could do is have a look at the electoral register

0:51:100:51:14

-or the electoral rolls for that...that address.

-Yeah.

0:51:140:51:17

And see who's living at that address at that time.

0:51:170:51:20

-That's a good idea, yeah.

-And, and see if we can do that.

0:51:200:51:23

Now, I've marked the page here,

0:51:250:51:27

and you can see here we have the Parliamentary Parish of Crayford.

0:51:270:51:31

-Yeah.

-This is Crayford Ward.

0:51:310:51:33

-So what number are we looking for?

-58.

-OK.

0:51:340:51:37

So, let's see if we can find 58.

0:51:370:51:39

-How far does it go...

-50...

0:51:390:51:42

Turn the page...

0:51:450:51:48

ALAN LAUGHS

0:51:500:51:51

What?

0:51:510:51:53

58. Richard Mercer.

0:51:530:51:56

Does that ring some bells?

0:51:560:51:58

THEY LAUGH

0:51:580:52:01

Now, what we can do now is have a look and see what happens by 1926.

0:52:010:52:06

Because that was the next certificate you've got with him living at that address.

0:52:060:52:11

And here we have the same thing for, er, there we are, Barnes Cray Walk.

0:52:110:52:17

-Yeah.

-At the top here.

0:52:170:52:19

-What happens here?

-Well, 58 Barnes Cray Walk,

0:52:210:52:25

-you've got Richard Mercer...

-Mm-hm.

0:52:250:52:29

..and Annie Mercer. So she's started calling herself Mercer.

0:52:290:52:33

-So she's telling a little fib. Or quite a big fib.

-Mm.

0:52:340:52:38

THEY LAUGH

0:52:380:52:41

Hmm.

0:52:410:52:42

Alan's finally discovered proof that to the outside world

0:52:460:52:51

his great-grandfather, Henry Carter became Richard Mercer.

0:52:510:52:55

Just one question remains.

0:52:580:53:00

-Do you have any idea why they chose Crayford, of all places?

-Well, yes.

0:53:020:53:07

Um, basically, during the First World War,

0:53:070:53:09

the factory there, the Vickers factory there,

0:53:090:53:12

expands beyond belief, because what it does,

0:53:120:53:15

it goes from making motor cars and a few small bits of munitions,

0:53:150:53:19

-to making large scale munitions work for the war effort.

-OK, yeah.

0:53:190:53:24

I mean, and the growth there is phenomenal.

0:53:240:53:26

I mean before the war, it's employing around 300 people.

0:53:260:53:30

By the end of the First World War, they're employing 14,500 people.

0:53:300:53:33

And if you want to go somewhere where you don't really want to be found too much,

0:53:330:53:37

going somewhere where there's a massive workforce like this is quite a good idea.

0:53:370:53:42

Now, actually, I think he will be in this picture somewhere

0:53:420:53:46

because this is a photograph of the whole workforce on Armistice Day.

0:53:460:53:51

So if you think you could recognise him...

0:53:510:53:54

THEY LAUGH

0:53:540:53:55

-..in all of this.

-He'll be the only one who's ducking his head so no-one knows him, he's a deserter.

0:53:550:54:00

Yeah, he's probably there at the back, isn't he? Yeah.

0:54:000:54:03

The Vickers factory in Crayford employed thousands of men,

0:54:060:54:10

manufacturing machine guns and aircraft.

0:54:100:54:14

Although no employment records survive,

0:54:140:54:17

all of its male workforce would have been exempt from fighting,

0:54:170:54:22

either because they were skilled workers,

0:54:220:54:24

too old or on medical grounds.

0:54:240:54:27

Henry wasn't a skilled worker.

0:54:280:54:30

But if he'd lied about his age,

0:54:300:54:33

or, more likely, his health,

0:54:330:54:35

then that, along with changing his name, could have kept him safe.

0:54:350:54:41

-A new identity, a new life.

-Yes.

0:54:420:54:45

-And a new start.

-Yeah. Go to Crayford, change your name,

0:54:450:54:48

and you become much more difficult to find.

0:54:480:54:50

And he's right. It's taken me this far to find out, so you know, he's, er...

0:54:520:54:57

-yeah, I think he did a really good job.

-Yeah.

0:54:570:54:59

-Oh, no, I mean he, he disappeared very well.

-Yeah.

0:54:590:55:02

-Yeah.

-Hm.

0:55:020:55:04

Henry and Maria stayed in Kent for the rest of their lives,

0:55:100:55:14

establishing Crayford as home for their 12 children

0:55:140:55:17

and for generations of Carters to come.

0:55:170:55:20

Alan has come to see the street his great-grandparents first moved to

0:55:240:55:28

when they began their new life together almost 100 years ago.

0:55:280:55:33

Right. So here I am,

0:55:350:55:38

9 Star Hill. I think it was 9, wasn't it?

0:55:380:55:42

So this is where my great-grandad, Henry Carter,

0:55:420:55:46

packed up his family, left Camberwell and was on the run, a deserter. So...

0:55:460:55:52

3, 5...

0:55:530:55:55

7...

0:55:550:55:57

So this is it here, 9.

0:55:570:55:59

So this is where he would have come to start a new life with his family.

0:55:590:56:02

Escaping from Camberwell, man on the run, wanted man,

0:56:040:56:07

coming here. It's amazing, innit?

0:56:070:56:09

But you know what's really weird.

0:56:090:56:12

Come with me, I'll show you.

0:56:120:56:14

I've...

0:56:170:56:18

You won't believe this,

0:56:180:56:20

but I actually lived here in Crayford in Chapel Hill.

0:56:200:56:25

That was our back yard there.

0:56:250:56:27

They've put a gate there now, but innit funny,

0:56:270:56:32

you go looking for something and actually it's...it's back where you found it.

0:56:320:56:36

Alan's great-grandfather was never captured for desertion,

0:56:390:56:43

and his family never knew his wartime secret.

0:56:430:56:47

Henry lived to see all eight of his sons,

0:56:490:56:53

including Alan's grandfather, Cyril, fight in the Second World War.

0:56:530:56:58

He's definitely made me believe in fate,

0:57:040:57:06

the fickle finger of fate, I mean especially where we've ended up here,

0:57:060:57:10

and I lived down here and, you know.

0:57:100:57:13

If Henry Carter had picked another place,

0:57:130:57:15

then maybe my dad wouldn't have met me mum, oh, you know what I mean?

0:57:150:57:20

And it also makes you think you know, not "What's the point?"

0:57:220:57:25

but how flimsy life is, how...fragile it is.

0:57:250:57:30

You know, if Henry Carter had said, "No, I am going to go to war,"

0:57:310:57:34

hadn't deserted, more probably than not he would have been killed

0:57:340:57:38

and so I wouldn't be here.

0:57:380:57:40

But when you really look down at it, he had a wife to look after,

0:57:410:57:48

she would have had, what a life, with four kids, two different fathers?

0:57:480:57:52

I think he protected her and I think he was quite savvy.

0:57:520:57:57

And, yeah, you know...it sounds cheesy, but he chose love over war.

0:57:570:58:03

He was a lover not a fighter.

0:58:030:58:05

And I'm proud...yeah.

0:58:050:58:07

And I think that's good.

0:58:070:58:09

I'd like to be called that meself.

0:58:090:58:11

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:180:58:20

E-mail [email protected]

0:58:200:58:22

Alan Carr explores his family's connection to football and his grandfather's tantalisingly brief brush with fame.

Alan then turns super-sleuth as he sets out to investigate a mysterious name change on his mother's side of the family. In an extraordinary story of twists and turns, he finally discovers the shocking truth, and exposes a previously hidden chapter of social history.


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