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As many countries around the world mark the centenary of the First World War, many one-
On this page we look at some examples of the type of information that may exist at local level and how some one-
On the next four pages we provide links to many key sources of WW1 information but please be aware some resources are only available through subscription sites.
Please let us know if you are undertaking any research for the centenary, any sources you are using not covered here, any WW1 stories you wish to share, any plans you have for publishing your results and commemorating the centenary etc.
Just email us at email@example.com .
Local war memorials
The starting point for many one-
Usually the memorials will list only the surnames and initials of those who died during the conflict but some, especially for small villages where few servicemen lost their lives, may provide further information including first forename, service, rank, number and may even list all who served, not just those who failed to return.
Example showing full name, age and regiment
Photo courtesy of Tyneham One-
The criteria for inclusion on civic war memorials, in particular, would have been determined by memorial committees. They may have included servicemen and women who were born there, lived there, worked there or because next-
You may even be able to track down the minutes of the memorial committee concerned.
Many civic and church memorials are recorded on various websites e.g. War Memorials Online (see WW1 R1 page) and some are accompanied by photographs. Many churches just have a single WW1 memorial tablet but some also have tablets dedicated to individual servicemen usually paid for by their families. These often give fuller information (see example below). Some memorial plaques to individual servicemen are attached to lecterns or other moveable items but generally contain limited information.
Check whether any clubs, factories, hospitals or schools in your study area also had memorials
Some memorials give a clue to
former leisure activities
Photo by Peter Harvey
Example showing all those who served
courtesy of Upton Lovell One-
Photo Trish Steel 2008
Elaborate memorial sub-
service and providing details of regiment
Photo courtesy of Aldeburgh One-
Example of separate plaque showing fuller information
Photo by Mr C E Moreton
Before you get too stuck in to your research, let others know of your plans and ask for people to get in touch with information.
The parish church normally has a magazine or newsletter where an appeal for information, photographs etc. can be included.
An article in a local newspaper or freebie community magazine can also prove useful. Could you enlist the help of the local school?
If you have a blog, then blog about the project and its progress.
Publicise your plans
Add your WW1 Memorial project or event to the Who Do You Think You Are? Britain Remembers map (see left)
Check that a local history group has not already started a project for your place!
Have you checked out records from the local schools, for example old log books (see example below) or even memorial plaques in old school buildings?
Northop School Log Book
15th October 1915
Lieut Aynslie Astbury who was wounded in Gallipoli and now in hospital in England visited this his old school this morning and the scholars and staff gave him a rousing reception. Lieut Neville A Astbury on leave also visited.
9th October 1916
Lieut Neville Astbury an old scholar was killed in the Battle of the Somme on Sept 15th.
Example entries in Northop School Log Book
Courtesy of Flintshire War Memorials
Consider extending the scope of your project to include the impact of war on the local area. This can increase interest especially if you are planning a local exhibition or intend publishing a book (see later).
Here are just a few angles you may wish to explore further:
Rolls of Honour
Example entry for Captain Arthur Winn, Suffolk Regt.
see WW1 R1 page for more about the roll
Visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website to find out more about those who died and where they are buried and also commemorated.
Please see WW1 R1 page for more information and links.
You may find it helpful to construct mini-
If a serviceman married shortly before he died, it’s possible that his child may have been born after his death.
If you subscribe to sites like Ancestry you may wish to add your mini-
Create mini trees
Example absent voters’ list for Corfe Castle
Absent Voters’ lists
Census Returns & Parish Registers
Another great source of information, particularly for those researching all who served in the war, is the Absent Voters’ Lists. These were prepared ahead of the General Election in Britain in 1918 and usually recorded the man’s full names, home address, regiment, number and rank.
Check County Record Offices or local civic archives for copies. Some are available online.
For more information please see The Long Long Trail.
Parish Magazines during the war years can be a great source of information:
We have now, I am proud to say, twelve (in addition to E. J. Collins, at present a prisoner of war) connected directly or indirectly with our village who are serving with the Colours.
May God protect them and enable them to be a credit to their King, their Country and their village home: William Cooper, Fred Bullen, Walter Hunt, Robert Grant, James Medd, Jesse Marsh, Robert Dorey, George Davis, Jack Caines, Alan Travers
Often parish magazines included extracts from servicemen’s letters (such as thanks for letters and parcels received), reports of casualties and recuperation, reports of those known to be missing or when next-
For those servicemen and women who gave their lives, one-
Be sure to search local newspapers for entries relating to your study area. Look for any news on servicemen, obituaries or events closer to home, such as bazaars etc. to raise money for the war effort.
Just 4 of 25 servicemen featured in a 1915 edition of The Western Gazette under the title “Patriotic Somerset, Dorset and Hants Families -
Ideally search local newspapers from the lead up to war being declared through to when the war memorial was finally unveiled.
Also check The Gazette (and Medal Index Cards) for any medals or other awards bestowed.
Please see WW1 R1 page for more information and links.
Publish as website page
You’ll need to start thinking about how intend to present your findings. There are various options that you can consider from low key publication through a website or blog to a full-
Take a look below at a few approaches used by others.
The example below is from St. Helens Rolls of Honour website rather than a registered one-
Click here to see the actual website page.
This is the followed by a press cutting (not shown below), an image of the war grave itself and the serviceman’s medal entitlement.
Subsequent pages of this 6 page biography provide further information in narrative form and include key information about the serviceman and his family, transcriptions of press cuttings, photographs of the war grave and setting and memorial inscriptions etc.
Whichever approach you take, be sure to let people know the outcome of your research,
Even if you don’t stage an exhibition, you can still create displays of photographs, press cuttings, story snippets etc. to support a book launch, The local school or church may welcome a small display too.
If staging an exhibition or book launch, is there someone special you could invite to perform the launch itself? A descendant or relative of one of the fallen, a representative of the local military or a civic dignitary? Remember to invite those who have helped you along the way and be sure to thank them. Let the local press and radio know.
The book is full of relevant information, such as newspaper reports when war was declared, wartime posters, images of the war memorial and other memorial plaques, photographs of the servicemen and woman (nurse) who gave their lives, details of their families, reports of battles, obituaries, probate information and much more.
The last name in the book is Robert Kersey who died on 10 November 1918, one day before the Armistice.
The niece of two soldiers featured in the book commented:
“... Just to say what a good job you did with the Aldeburgh War Memorial book ... It is a marvellous reminder of all those poor fellows who died & I feel I know much more about my own uncles too ... Someone has produced something similar about memorials in the Highlands -
It is planned to start the exhibition in Yateley Library at the start of the Autumn term and then to relocate it to Frogmore school at half term. It is then hoped to move the exhibition to Yateley Manor school early in 1915 and then possibly to other locations around the area.
It will be a rolling exhibition changing for each year of the war. The exhibition for 1914 will comprise the following displays:-
Please tell us about your plans so we can include in future issues.
Impact of war on the home front
Did servicemen and women join the same regiment at the same time? Did they fight alongside each other? Did they lose their lives together or within days of each other? As you progress with your research you will be asking yourself many more questions!
Regiment records / war diaries
Presenting your findings
Publish as website page
Cathy has chosen to produce the individual biographies in easily downloadable pdf format.
The approach taken is clean and respectful with the cover page including the serviceman’s key details, the ‘Lest we Forget” motto and poppy and the Australian Imperial Force badge.
Click here to see the actual pdf.
Publish in book form
Stage an exhibition
Let people know
Share your ideas
If you are able to trace descendants, take time to talk to them.
It’s surprising what little gems of information can be found just by asking a few questions and letting people share what they know and show you any photographs or other articles that may have been passed down.
Keep them updated with any information you find out from other sources.
The Church of England has made available resources for those planning to hold a commemorative service at a war memorial. Available for Commemorating the First World War
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