The names of Blackadder, Darling, Lieutenant George and Baldrick will be familiar to people nationwide thanks to the BBC’s Blackadder series. But they may be surprised to learn that the characters, originally invented by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, really did exist. Specialist military genealogy website Forces War Records has the proof.
To mark the centenary of the Great War, Forces War Records has delved back into its six million military records to track down the real life counterparts of the characters made famous in Blackadder Goes Forth.
The hugely popular Blackadder series ran from 1983-1989, ending its run in the trenches of World War I, where the exploits of Captain Blackadder, Private Baldrick, Captain Darling and Lieutenant George culminated in the characters going over the top for ‘one last hurrah’. The exploits of their real-life namesakes were no less exciting or extraordinary – as revealed by Forces War Records’ expert researchers. The stories of Acting Captain Robert John Blackadder, MC., RGA, Private James Baldrick, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Captain John Clive Darling, DSO., 20th Hussars and Lieutenant Athelstan Key Durance George, Dorsetshire Regiment have been revealed today at [url]www.forces-war-records.co.uk[/url]
In this the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1, Forces War Records has noticed a marked increase in people using the site to trace family members who fought in the war. To help them in their search, the company has been busy making as many military records available as possible. It was whilst they were transcribing an additional 1.5 million pieces of World War 1 data that they made the discovery.
Dominic Hayhoe, CEO of Forces War Records explains, “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 1 is a General Melchett. According to the military records we have, he makes an appearance in World War 2.”
Fact is often stranger than fiction and fans of Blackadder Goes Forth will be surprised at the number of similarities the fictional characters, who started life in the medieval period, share with their real World War 1 namesakes.
Apart from the obvious similarities of surname, rank and the fact all of them served in the trenches, both Lt. Georges went to Cambridge, rowed for their college, were unmarried, joined the Army as commissioned officers and, it would appear, were of good family stock. They were also both pilots who could draw extremely well. Tragically, both met their ends in the trenches with Lt. AKD George receiving a fatal gunshot wound to the head.
The two Captain Blackadders rose up the ranks and served in the British Army before the outbreak of the First World War, completing service overseas. Both were bachelors who fought at the Somme in 1916. They even share character traits of ‘coolness’ and ‘resource’ which earned Robert John Blackadder the Military Cross and Edmund Blackadder many laughs for his schemes to escape the trenches and various life-threatening predicaments. The similarities end in the trenches with Captain Robert John Blackadder surviving the war unlike his namesake.
The other characteristic the Baldricks have in common is that both come from humble backgrounds and from illiterate families. However, unlike his TV counterpart, the real Baldrick could read and write. Whether he was also a cook, entertainer, poet and musician the records do not say but like Private S. Baldrick, Private J. Baldrick tragically met his end fighting in the trenches.
The only one to buck the trend, according to the information uncovered so far, is Captain John Darling; he has nothing in common with the bureaucratic fictional Captain Kevin Darling. The son of a Baron, Captain John Clive Darling was educated at Eton before taking his commissioning course at Sandhurst. Far from being a pencil-pusher like Kevin Darling, the real Darling fought at the battles of Mons, Marne, Aisne and Ypres; his actions earned him the Distinguished Service Order. Surviving the war, Captain Darling went on to write about his regiment, the 20th Hussars’ involvement in World War 1.
Dominic says about their findings, “Having made this exciting discovery, we’re keen to uncover more about them and would be very keen to hear from any living relatives who have additional information, documents and photographs to complete their stories. We’d be very happy to give them access to the information on the site as well as copies of the military records we’ve uncovered so far.”