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25 comments

  1. Donald Outterson - Reply

    My Outterson family left Berwick on Tweed and Ayton in 1760 to build paper mills in Canada and the USA. They were part of the Old Royals of Utred the Bold of the Kingdom of Northumbria. Our old last name was Utredson. Utred helped clear the forest for the building of Durham Cathedral and was associated with St. Cuthbert, as Bamburgh Castle protected Holy Island where Cuthbert once lived and worked. I welcome you all as distant cousins. I hope to see you along the the bike trails in the vast North Country. Donald R Outterson, Cincinnati, Ohio USA

  2. Colin Ambler - Reply

    Hello Michael.
    I’m Colin Ambler writing from Nottinghamshire in the UK.
    I want to thank you for sharing your father’s amazing diary. My wife, Linda’s, father was sergeant Lance Champlin, a tank commander in the north African campaign in 1942. He was captured by the Italians in September 42. We have been trying to reconstruct what happened to him from that point as he gave few details prior to his death in 1966. We now know from the address on a photo he kept with him that he was in PG 70 in Italy until the Italian surrender and then moved north to Stalag IVB as we have the dogtag and prisoner number – so taking the same route as your father. It would be nice to think that they might have met.
    We stumbled on your wonderful website by chance. It has answered so many questions and gave us a ‘feel’ for what these brave men went through in nearly 3 years of captivity. We want our sons and granddaughters to be aware of this and how much we, who were born after the war, owe to them.
    Thank you so much for making this possible. The site is a great memorial to your father.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks for sharing that, Colin. You have captured one of the main reasons this site exists – to preserve the memories for future generations of the people who went before us and to whom we owe so much. I’m delighted it answered some questions for you.
      As you will have seen from the site’s pages, you can still visit the site of Stalag IVB, and even though there are no longer any traces of the Allied POW camp itself, there is plenty to see of the Soviet NKVD camp and the Nazi graves from right after the war, which is alongside the huge flat field where the Stalag IVB huts were erected.
      My wife and I are planning to travel to Italy when the Covid circumstances allow. At least one of the three camps mentioned in the narrative is still identifiable.
      Good luck to you and Linda in your continuing research.

  3. Michael Paul Otterson - Reply

    It was great to read about my great-uncle Jim. It’s incredible to see the pictures of him and all of the other Ottersons and the resemblance to you. Happy belated 100th birthday Uncle Jim!

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Hi Geoffrey. The Irish Ottersons seem to be a completely separate branch from those who have lived in and around Sunderland, County Durham, for several hundred years. I have only one example of an Irish Otterson living in the northeast of England, but he is not related. The Irish Ottersons probably came from Norway. I think the Durham Ottersons came from Denmark but I have not been able to prove it. My DNA is on Ancestry.com. Let me know if you ever find a connection, and thanks for writing!

  4. Brenda Cowan - Reply

    I am fascinated by your web site, you have put a lot of work into it.
    I am Jessie and James Otterson’s granddaughter Brenda Cowan. Jessie died when I was 8 years old but I remember her so well. She actually lived at Greensfield terrace, Gateshead just prior to her death. Her late daughter Sarah Henderson is my mother. They are buried near to each other in Heworth cemetery. Older brother Robert Burdis Henderson is still alive and living in Whitby. Thomas and Maureen are deceased and then there is me.
    Jessie lived and brought up her children alone, working for local people, mostly in the Jewish community, cleaning, washing, fetching and carrying. She even washed the bodies of deceased people and laid them out to earn money to keep her family together.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Hi Brenda. Delighted that you found the site helpful. Thanks for the additional information on Jesse Otterson. Having lost my own Dad soon after World War 2, I always felt a soft spot for Jesse who lost her husband in the same area where his brother Robert – my grandfather – fought at the Somme in the war of 1914-1918. If you have any photographs of James or Jesse that have been passed down, I’d love to receive any scanned images to add to the site. Best wishes.

  5. Catherine Hayden - Reply

    I’ve been enjoying your Dowsing page with its lovely photos – thank you. The Iconoclast is my first cousin nine times removed; I descend from John Dowsing, brother to your Margaret who married Jerome Pipe. Just thought I would say Hi! Best wishes Catherine

  6. Thora Dix - Reply

    Hello Cousin Mike, I have just looked at your new site for the first time and hope to find time to look at more in the future as I now seemed to have settled to a life without Gordon. As always it is excellent and easy to follow.
    I was amazed at how stong the resemblance is between Gordon’s Dad (Robert/Bob) and his brother John was. Both in looks and in character.
    I would love to be in contact with Steve Harris if that would be possible but as I’m not very IT savvy not sure how to go about it. Could you help please?
    Ronnie has set me task of finding out about John and Bob’s brother Arthur who was kiiled in the war and I’m sure I must have some info somewhere.
    I hope you and Kathy enjoyed your stay in the Uk.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Hi Thora:
      This is one reason why it’s great to have old photos – to see how those family resemblances carry on even through the generations!
      I will email you privately with Steve Harris’s email address. He will be delighted to hear from you.

  7. Teresa Docherty - Reply

    Hi. I have been checking both our ancestry records and have found a link of Garwoods and Pipe surname starting from about 1847. I am very impressed with your website, especially as I can use a lot of the information as it is also my family history as well. Amazing!

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks, Teresa. These lines are some of the most interesting on my tree, and possibly on yours, too. Check out William Dowsing’s page as well – you’ll find him on The People index. Good hunting.

  8. Michael Otterson - Reply

    Added: The extraordinary life of William Dowsing, the English Civil War Puritan who waged war on Catholic imagery in churches throughout the county of Suffolk.

    • Michael R Otterson - Reply

      Thanks, Donna. The Berrys have at least a 200-year history in Liverpool and could go back much further. Let’s hope we can find some more clues as to whether they originally came from England or Ireland.

  9. Jacqueline Neal - Reply

    My father Neville David McAlary, an Australian fighting for GB in the RAF followed almost exactly the route of your father. Tobruk, Benghazi, Campo 57 in Italy, Stalag IVB after being shot down in the desert south of Benghazi.
    At the end of the war he walked towards the West with the Russians close behind. Americans held the Russians off while he swam the river towards freedom. Also flown out of Halle to England and finally repatriated to Australia. He also wrote very involved diaries from the time of leaving Australia until capture. The family has great memorabilia of his from that time.
    He died Nov 1999 aged 82.
    Thanks for the incredible read. Your Dad is someone to be very proud of.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks for this, Jacqueline. I wish I had known your Dad and had a chance to talk to him – especially since we lived in Australia from 1979 until 1991. It’s quite possible that your Dad and mine even knew each other. I hope you publish his memorabilia. The major reason for creating this site is to make sure these stories don’t die with them. It was a real thrill to read your response!

  10. William - Reply

    My great grandmother was born an Otterson. It is a honor to be connected to this family by her.

  11. Alyssa - Reply

    A treasure trove, and beautifully assembled. What a gift to have all this history at our fingertips.

  12. Mark - Reply

    What a fantastic site! The amount of research, work and care that has gone into putting this together is amazing. I can see that you have a deep love for your family history! Thank you.

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