Steve Clifford, a.k.a. “Jakealoo”

Doing Our Bit began as a tribute to members of my family who served in the First World War, however I soon began adopting soldiers whose letters and photos found their way to me.

In recent years I’ve had the privilege of connecting with many descendants of these brave men and women. This has led to new stories, photographs and acts of commemoration.

I’ve spent nearly two decades researching my own family history, a highlight of which has been solving the mystery surrounding the disappearance of my great-grandfather after the First World War.

I’m passionate about research and recently I launched a Military and Family History Research Service. I now look forward to helping you uncover your family history so that you can preserve these amazing stories for future generations.

I hope you enjoy your visit and take a moment to leave a comment or contact me. Thanks for dropping by,

Steve Clifford
Victoria, BC

11 replies

  1. Found your reference to the Gretna Disaster and read several of your postings with great interest. I am living in USA but was born in Musselburgh and am related to Private Robert White who was killed in the train tragedy. I have his medals and also the Bronze Death Plaque or Soldier’s Penny that was sent to his father. My mother still lives in Musselburgh and I have forwarded her links so that she can read them and perhaps share additional information. She has accumulated a fair bit of history on the tragic event and has provided same for inclusion in other records.
    Thank you for gathering this information and making it available.

    • Hello Donald,

      Thanks very much for your kind comments. I would very much be interested to know if you or your mother can identify Pte Robert White in any of the postcards. If you are I would very much like to post an update to my blog.

      Also, I found this photo of a Private Robert “Whyte” from Musselburgh who died in the crash on John Duncan’s Newbattle website:


      Could this be him and the surname misspelt in the newspaper?

      Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you or your mother.


      • Steve,
        I just spoke with my mother who attended a remembrance event today that recognized the many local men and women who fought and died in WWI. There were more than 200 present including family members, military dignitaries and The Lord Lieutenant representing the Queen.
        They were served an interesting few hours of history, in person, by video and slide presentation as well as a sing along featuring many of the songs of that era.
        My mother’s cousin’s wife Ruth has played a lead role over the past few years in many aspects of memorializing those heroes and today’s gathering heard about a soon to be released book that captures some great information. On their way from the event, a woman stopped them and asked Ruth about the book and mentioned that her grandfather died in The Gretna Disaster. Ruth looked up his name in the book (rushed copy that she had been given an hour earlier) and showed the woman a picture of him. The woman then shared the contents of her grandmother’s locket from around her neck….the same photograph! It turns out that he was one of five young men from Bush Street, Musselburgh who perished that day.
        There were several other great stories that you might enjoy.
        I’d love to put you in touch with Ruth and my mother, I believe that both are proficient in email but navigating the blog might be tough. I had shown my mother the photographs you had posted to see whether they could identify any of the faces but what they were able to look at was a bit too grainy. As a result of the people they met today, they might be able to get some additional clues.
        Let me know if you are interested and if there is an easy way to email you.

  2. As a collector of Royal Scots medals and an interest in researching individual soldiers whose medals I have , I find this an interesting site .

    I would be interested to know what medals Donald has , in relation to Robert also does he have his memorial Scroll or the one issued by Musselburgh council .

    There are three Royal Scots , who died in ww1 , named Robert White and with a named medal this makes the plaque a certainty as belonging to him .


    • Hello Davie,

      My apologies for the very late reply! I’ve dropped Donald a note and hopefully he can answer your questions regarding Robert’s medals and scrolls.

      Thanks for commenting and once again I’m sorry for taking so long to get back to you.


      • Hi Steve,
        Thank you for your email.
        I’ll look at the medals when I return home and get a reply to you and Davie.

  3. Hello Steve and Davie,

    Well, another mystery solved, partially at least!

    I just finished a phone conversation with my mother in Scotland. We came into possession of Robert White’s Death Plaque along with the medals when his niece Cathy brought them from the USA to my mother. The medals were in a Princess Mary 1914 Christmas Gift Box and the assumption was made that these were Robert’s medals.
    Prompted by Davie’s email I got out the magnifying glass this morning and discovered that the inscription on the outside of the British War Medal and the Victory Medal reads 88281 DVR. J. SMITH R.A. Following a call to my mother, John ‘Jock’ Smith was Cathy’s father who emigrated to NJ, USA c1926 with his wife Kate, Cathy and son John Jr. Kate was Robert White’s step sister.
    Also in the gift box was a France and Germany Star which I believe is a WW2 medal and it has no inscriptions. My mother recalls John Smith Jr. served in Europe in WW2 but we are wondering as to whether this is his medal, stored in the same box as his father’s WW1 medals.

    Thank you both for causing me to dig deeper and learn more about our family. It is particularly appropriate that we discovered this on the 100th anniversary of the Quintinshill Disaster and the Memorial Day weekend in the USA.



  4. Just received this update from my mother….”John Smith Jr. was in the 79th US Army and wore the Cross of Lorraine on his shoulder. He visited Musselburgh and stayed with us on leave from France. My brother, Walter Ward who served with the British Navy visited John`s Mother in NJ while he was on leave at the same time!”
    Is it even possible that a soldier in the 79th US Army would be awarded the France and Germany Star or do we have another family mystery to solve?

    • Hi Donald,

      Thanks very much for the update on Robert White’s medals! It is indeed appropriate that this information has come to light on the centenary of the Quintinshill disaster. Thanks very much for sharing the information.


  5. I have been meaning to come on here and wanting to say something regards what Steve has been able to do regards WW1 research for me … So this is long overdue!
    I cannot say enough for what Steve has researched for me with two of my Gt Uncles who fought for the Canadians during WW1. From what was an intial emailing asking “What can you do with the info I have” turned out to be a great return from Steve to be able to track both Gt Uncles war from start to finish. Anyone wanting to have their family soldiers researched then look no further than turning to Steve for help. Even though I got in touch in March 2020 to this day Steve is of great help with answering emailis. Steve has also done another super job on another Gt Uncle who made it into the second world war and found his records to enable me to find out about his service then. I cannot recommend Steve highly enough. Richard Rogers. Leicestershire

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