Researching the Royal Irish Rangers
How one ex-serviceman used 192.com to get in touch with friends from his regiment.
Former Royal Irish Rangers Lance Corporal, Joseph Mills, had been saying to his wife, Moira, for several years that he wished he could get back in touch with the lads he had served with. He had been with the regiment from 1964 to 1970, and over the years, had lost touch with his friends from those days.
Moira Mills explained: "My husband Joe has been out of the army for 36 years, so it's hardly surprising that he's lost touch with the lads from the Royal Irish Rangers. Two or three years ago he began saying how he would like to make contact with some of the men he served with. He could remember some of the names, but had no idea were the men were."
"I decided to take on the task of looking for them, and began to use the Internet to search on the names. With the Web, the world is open. Search engines took me to Forces Reunited, where I found one person Joe knew, Dave Rees, and I discovered the Royal Irish Rangers own site, run by an ex-serviceman."
"Someone Joe was particularly keen to find was Dennis Espie. I emailed some of the people on Forces Reunited and the Royal Irish Rangers website to ask if they knew what had happened to him, and where he was living now.
One person got back to me and said he had worked with Dennis near Warminster. One of my husband's colleagues recommended that we try 192.com, the online people finder service. When I put Dennis's name into the search box, voila, I immediately found an address for Dennis, and the phone number for a neighbour. I called them and, though Dennis was on holiday, they agreed to leave a message and took my phone number."
"Within a week, when he returned from holiday, Dennis got in touch. 192.com had provided the key to getting in touch with him, and my husband was so pleased. That was back in April 2005. Within a week, with some extra information from Dennis, we used 192.com to make contact with another four people. With its wealth of data from directory enquiries and electoral roll records, 192.com has been an invaluable source of information for our search."
"My husband was delighted, as we soon made contact with two old friends, George Wilcox and Roy Kendal, and since then we've found about another 20 people he served with, making contact with the last gentleman just six weeks ago."
"We arranged a get-together in July 2005 at Catterick Garrison, where a few ex-Irish Rangers had settled. Soon afterwards, Joe and his friends formed the Yorkshire and North East England branch association for ex-servicemen from the Royal Irish Rangers: now there are 50-60 gentlemen who meet up every month, and Joe is proud to have been voted in as Chairman of the branch."
"On June 3, 15 of them went to Northern Ireland for an Old Soldiers day - the last one at Ballymena, where the Royal Irish rangers all used to train. Neither my husband nor many of his friends knew about it until they made contact with other ex-servicemen through 192.com, and they were all so grateful to see the Ballymena base again before it closed."
"One person, Davey Hobson, sadly died a few months after contact was made, but though my husband was distraught about the death, he was very pleased he had spoken to him before he died. Because we'd made contact, we were able to attend the funeral - a full military affair."
"The last person we found was just a few weeks ago, Philip McCready, who Joe was able to meet in Ballymena. Some of the Royal Irish Rangers now live in Southern Ireland, so we haven't been able to find them yet - we might have to wait until 192.com extends its service! The search function on 192.com has been invaluable, as from the names other people have remembered, we've been able to trace their contact details and get in touch. It's been fantastic to be able to speak to them again, and we're now part of a huge network of their friends and families, who Joe and I have now become friends with."
Moira concluded: "There must be thousands of ex-servicemen who are looking for old friends, and it's brilliant when they get back in touch. I would thoroughly recommend 192.com. You don't even need a computer, as you can get online in Internet cafes and libraries. 192.com is an ideal search tool, as gives addresses and phone numbers so that you can find and meet up with long-lost friends."