War graves: First World War archive goes online

Families will now find it easier to find details of relatives who died in the two world wars

Graves from the First World War in Belgium
(Image credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, has completed a five-year project to digitise more than 300,000 documents relating to those who died in the two world wars.

Updated online archives, launched yesterday to coincide with the centenary of the First World War, will make it easier for people to find information about family members and loved ones who died during the two world wars.

"The documents are a window into the past, and the incredible work carried out after the First World War to ensure those who died would be not be forgotten," the commission's archivist and records manager Andrew Fetherson told The Scotsman.

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Unlike other websites, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission does not charge users for accessing the information.

The organistation has also launched a new microsite, Discover 14-18, which will help people locate and visit the memorial sites more easily.

Whose names are listed?

The extensive archives include the details of the 1.7 million men and women from Commonwealth forces who lost their lives in both world wars. Information on the 67,000 civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War is also available.

What information can you use to search?

People can search for information using a surname, date, war, rank, regiment, awards, service number, or any combination of those criteria.

What will the results include?

Users will be able to discover where the person was buried or commemorated, details of personal headstone inscriptions, date of death and some documents may even reveal details of their final journey to the grave and details of their next-of-kin.

"It is this direct link back to a muddy field or a hastily dug grave, in any one of the hundreds of different battlefields and theatres of war that made up the First World War that imbue these records with meaning, authenticity and a sense of history", Fetherson said.

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