Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Ancestry releases remainder of WW1 records

Good news for all those with army ancestors - has released the remainder of the WO363 World War One soldiers' service records collection. Officially due to go online tomorrow, they are in fact now online.

At long last, I have found the service record for my great uncle, William Paton, of the RAMC...!

UPDATE 5 NOV: From Ancestry's press release -, the UK’s leading family history website*, today completed the world first online launch of the British Army World War One Service Records, 1914-1920, which detail the full military careers of more than two million soldiers who served during World War One.

Service records contain a variety of information concerning all aspects of the army careers of those who completed their duty or were either killed in action or executed, including the soldier’s name, date and place of birth, address, next-of-kin, former occupation, marital status, medical records, service history, regiment number, locations of service and discharge papers.

Each service record contains an average of 16 pages of personal information; however they can contain as many as 60 pages.

The British Army World War One Service Records, 1914-1920 complement the British Army World War One Pension Records, 1914-1920, which are already online and contain 9.7 million pages of personal information relating to almost one million discharged soldiers who, having sacrificed their own wellbeing for the war effort, suffered disabling sickness or injuries for which a pension was subsequently granted.

As approximately 60 per cent of the paper originals of the service records were destroyed by fire when the War Office in London was struck by a bomb in 1940 during an air raid, the surviving 32.5 million paper records now online have become known as the ‘Burnt Documents’.

Microfilm of the total 43 million pages of paper originals which comprise the service and pension records are the second most viewed collection at The National Archives, which maintains the collection and is’s official partner in hosting it online.

Together, the service and pension records form the definitive source of information in existence on more than three million ordinary soldiers who fought in the British Army during World War One. The sheer volume of material has meant that the collection has been digitised in stages in a process that has taken three years.

The service records are the latest addition to’s extensive British military collection, which includes the World War One Medal Index Cards, 1914-1922, detailing medal entitlements for more than 5.5 million soldiers, and the British Army Prisoners of War, 1939-1945, detailing more than 100,000 World War Two British POWs.

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