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One-Place Studies


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As many countries around the world mark the centenary of the First World War, many one-placers have been busy researching the stories of those named on the war memorials in their one-place study area.

Some one-placers have extended their research further, for example to investigate all who served their country, not just those who lost their lives, or to investigate the impact of the war on the home front.

Many one-placers have already started publishing the results of their research - through blogs, websites, facebook pages or groups, other media such as storify, or as books, presentations or exhibitions.

On this page we look at some examples of the type of information that may exist at local level and how some one-placers have been presenting their research.

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 places@oneplacestudy.org .

Local war memorials

The starting point for many one-placers is the local civic war memorial or memorials in the local church or churchyard.

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-Place Study

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-of-kin lived there. Some individuals are commemorated on more than one local memorial especially if they were born, lived and worked in differing parishes.

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-Place Study

Photo  Trish Steel 2008

Elaborate memorial sub-dividing casualties by

service and providing details of regiment

Photo courtesy of Aldeburgh One-Place Study

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:

War Graves

Rolls of Honour

Example entry for Captain Arthur Winn, Suffolk Regt.

see WW1 R1 page for more about the roll

The Roll-of-Honour website often includes further information about all those named on local memorials. Also check out other Rolls of Honour, including de Ruvigny’s Roll (see below).

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-trees for each servicemen or woman, not only to help ascertain descendants but also to check for possible connections between those sharing the same surnames etc.

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-trees - this may help lead you to descendants or them to you.

Create mini trees

Example absent voters’ list for Corfe Castle

- click on image to see more clearly

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:

Kingston - Dorset - December 1914


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-of-kin were informed they were assumed to be dead or confirmed as prisoners of war etc.

For those servicemen and women who gave their lives, one-placers will almost certainly want to check primary sources such as census returns and parish registers.

Some one-placers even start from the census returns to identify all who may have served in the war and then aim to track each person.

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 - Men who are serving their King and Country”. It appeared directly below many photographs of servicemen whose deaths were being reported.

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-scale exhibition or book launch.

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-place study but it shows a style very fitting for commemorating those who gave their lives. A photograph is followed by a table providing key information about the serviceman.

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.

One-Placer Simon Last has produced a number of Suffolk ‘war memorial’ books, his latest being for Aldeburgh. It runs to 176 pages and provides full information about those who died in date of death order.

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 - not a patch on yours as it is only photographs of statues involved & nothing about the people which is what one wants ...”

One-Placer The Yateley Society is currently engaged in research for an exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the WW1. The exhibition will concentrate on "How the War affected Yateley".

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.

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Impact of war on the home front

Parish magazines

School records

Many one-placers will wish to add information about the Regiments servicemen and women served with and battles they may have fought in or lost their lives in.

Check out regimental records (see WW1 R3 page) and war diaries where available. Operation War Diary (see WW1 R1 page) will see many more war diaries available online.

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

One-Placer Cathy Sedgwick is OPC for a number of parishes in Wiltshire and she has prepared individual biographies for around 200 servicemen who died in WW1.

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.

Interview descendants

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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