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Researchers uncover real-life counterparts of Blackadder characters who fought in WW1
A SOLDIER from Bournemouth was among the real life counterparts of the characters from Blackadder Goes Forth.
The genealogy website Forces War Records researched the namesakes of Blackadder and his compatriots after education secretary Michael Gove criticised the series for spreading myths about the First World War.
Not only did the researchers discover real life counterparts of Captain Blackadder, Private Baldrick, Captain Darling and Lieutenant George, but they say their real stories were often stranger than the fiction.
Bournemouth can claim Lieutenant Athelstan Key Durance George, who was born in Brixton but grew up in the resort, representing his school at fencing and rowing for Caius College, Cambridge.
He intended to study medicine but dropped out to enter the army. He joined the King's Liverpool Regiment in 1907 and was described by his colonel as the best subaltern (second lieutenant) he had ever had.
Lt George served in India, gained a certificate in aviation on his return to England and passed with distinction a military course in signalling.
He left for the Western Front on August 14 1914, as a lieutenant with the 1st Battalion the Dorsetshire Regiment. He fought in the battles of Mons, Le Cateau and Marne, where he was shot in the head on September 9, dying at the age of 27.
The Blackadder series ran from 1983-89 and ended with the characters going 'over the top' in World War I.
Lt George was played by Hugh Laurie. He joined the army on the first day of World War I, along with nine other students at Cambridge University collectively known as the Trinity Tiddlers. He refused the chance to avoid being part of the final push in the last episode of the series.
Dominic Hayhoe, CEO of Forces War Records, said: “We were uploading new information onto our database when we came across a Captain Blackadder. As fans of the television show, we wondered if we could find the military records of the other fictional characters' namesakes. So we challenged our team of professional researchers and military experts, who are all based in the UK so are familiar with the Blackadder series, to find them, which they did.
“The only person we haven't been able to track down, so far, from World War I is a General Melchett.”
Two Captain Blackadders served in the army before the war and fought at the Somme in 1916. Two Private Baldricks came from illiterate families and died in the trenches, while Eton-educated Captain John Darling fought at Mons, Marne, Aisne and Ypres, earning the Distinguished Service Order and surviving the war.
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