I’ve mentioned the Lives of the First World War project in a few previous posts. The site has now been generally available (though by no means finished in terms of functionality) for a few weeks. I was invited to write a guest post about how I’ll be using the project to record information related to Halfmuffled, and I also looked at how important I think the site will be. As a first step towards integration, I’ve created a “Community” for the Surrey ringers.
In addition, a few new or updated sources which may be useful have come online. Although Ancestry have had the surviving First World War army service records for many years, FindMyPast have now released their version (which is also incorporated into Lives). They’ve taken a very comprehensive approach to indexing the material, even pulling out brief mentions in other’s records – wartime economy measures meant that entries were often recorded on the back of scrap paper, which had often been used previously. This can include things like casualty lists, and sometimes the mention of a name on one of these, incorporated into the record of someone else entirely can now be the only surviving mention. They’ve also treated WO 363 and WO 364, the burnt and unburnt records 9the second of these series are referred to as the pension records by Ancestry), as a single record set, so both are searched at the same time, and with exactly the same options available. Paul Nixon has put together some useful tips on searching these records. This may reveal additional information I hadn’t previously managed to find.
Other new material has been released by Surrey History Centre, indexes of Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment Prisoners of War 1918 and East Surrey Regiment 1st Battalion. Their material digitised in partnership with Ancestry has also been updated, such as the registers of births, marriages and deaths I’ve referred to previously on this blog.
Operation War Diary is also proceeding apace, along with further releases of digitised war diaries from The National Archives. Volunteers are now also being sought to help with physically resorting diaries for the next phase of digitisation work. This requires spending a minimum of one day a fortnight at The National Archives building in Kew. The first data from Operation War Diary has also now been released, it is described here, with a link to the data pages. This material will also be incorporated into Lives in due course.
This should all help keep me busily researching!