W is for World War One
We are in the middle of four years of centenaries of World War I, the war to end all wars which, sadly, was no such thing. Many people are naturally interested in the part their forebears played in the devastating conflict. I grew up knowing that my granny’s brother had been gassed in the war, and was give a one-way ticket to Australia, with the assumption that he wouldn’t live long. (He got his revenge by surviving long enough to raise a large family, many of whom I met when I visited Australia some years back.)
Partly in response to the centenary, many organisations have release records relating to World War I. Many of these are available free of charge, so we thought we’d list some of them.
One of the most useful sites is the Scottish War Memorial Project, organised by the Scottish Military Research Group. Designed as a discussion forum, the site is arranged into geographical sections, with a remarkable amount of detail on war memorials, and the individuals commemorated on them. It is an ongoing, collaborative project, and is created entirely by volunteers.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was established by Royal Charter in 1917, and is the official body responsible for maintaining cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in 154 countries, honouring the 1,700,000 Commonwealth soldiers who died in World War I and World War II. The website includes a searchable database of memorials, which often include additional information to help identify your ancestors.
Many Scots served in the armed forces of other countries, notably Australia and Canada. Library and Archives Canada have an excellent site with a searchable database of the service records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Many Scottish-born soldiers served with the Australian and New Zealand armed forces. The National Archives of Australia and Archives New Zealand have built a dedicated website to help you find your Anzac ancestors, containing digitised service records.
Unfortunately, a large proportion of the British service records from WWI were lost in a fire. And unlike Canada and Australia, the records are not available for free. Here at Old Scottish, we have developed innovative software to match records across a variety of free and subscription databases to help provide a fuller picture of Scottish servicemen, both those who died and those who survived. Some examples of how our systems can help join the dots are shown on our Auchterarder in World War I page. To mark the ongoing centenary commemorations, we are pleased to offer a special discounted rate for WWI research services – get in touch for a free initial consultation.
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