11 Million have Somme Ancestor

This is a headline from yesterday’s i paper:

The Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles of he First World War, resulted in more than a million casualties over 141 days. On the first day alone, 19,240 British soldiers lost their lives – the worst day in the history of the British Army.

But an estimated 2,018,158 men survived the battle and around 1,725,525 of them married, producing 5,521,680 children by 1940.

By then, Some veterans and their families made up an estimated 18.7% of the British population. Taking this figure into account, along with population growth, the genealogy company Ancestry has calculated that 10,730,281 people have now a Somme ancestor in their family tree, by projecting the growth of the population from 1918 and accounting for migration.

Hmmm. There have also been claims by this company that many people in these islands have royal ancestry, but I have my doubts on these numbers. They seem to assume people breed evenly, whereas most people live and breed in small groups, at least till recent times. The Somme soldiers went with their mates, so some groups were completely wiped out whilst other towns lost none.

Likewise with royalty. Until recently, the aristocracy was regional, and choice of partner was limited, hence the alleged problems of inbreeding in some branches of the European aristocracy. Some family lines die out altogether, and have to adopt distant relatives to take on their name. This is particularly prominent when people cite the ongoing prominence of Norman names in the higher echelons of British and particularly English society, but some of these families have virtually died out . The survival of a name is not the same as the survival of the full clutch of original genes. The absorption of new blood helps to refresh old families, but it was also a means for a few lucky individuals to rise above their station in lie. 

Ultimately the figures from Genealogy are probably inflated in order to get more people to sign up to and pay for their site. which is fair enough, but I do have doubts about these late figures.

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