An Ancestry.com probe found an interesting familial connection for “1917” star George MacKay: His three-times great uncle, Albert Victor Baulk, was a signaler for the 196th Siege Battery in Sailly-au-Bois, France. He worked just a few miles from the German front lines where Operation Alberich took place and where, weirdly enough, the film is set.
As a signaler and telephonist, Baulk would have helped relay crucial communications to his unit just like MacKay’s character does in the movie.
When he learned about MacKay’s familial connection to the real-life events of his much-praised movie, director Sam Mendes said in a statement, ‘‘The story of ‘1917’ was inspired not only by my own family history, but also by many others. I hope very much that the stories of those that came before us and fought on our behalf live on in our movie.”
World War I stories from Mendes’ grandfather, Alfred H. Mendes, served as the inspiration for the movie. His British Army records were also among the artifacts dug up in the Ancestry probe.
Russell James, who serves as Ancestry’s DNA and family history expert, said, ‘‘Historical dramas provide entertainment but also the inspiration to delve a little deeper into stories from our own family history. From George MacKay’s character who mirrors his real-life ancestor to Sam Mendes’ grandfather who inspired the film, so many of us have a connection to the events in 1917 which should be explored as much as possible.”