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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 8, February 24, 2008, Article 42

VICTORIA CROSS RECORDS NOW AVALIABLE FOR RESEARCHERS ONLINE

[For researchers of military medals, a gold mine of new
information in now available on the Internet.  -Editor]

The heroism of millions of Britain's First World War
servicemen, from ordinary foot-soldiers to actors and
future prime ministers, is disclosed on the internet for
the first time from today.

The records of 5.5 million troops awarded medals between
1914 and 1922 - the most comprehensive Great War collection
in existence - are being released by the website,
Ancestry.co.uk.

It will give people an unprecedented opportunity to trace
the wartime achievements of their ancestors as most of the
official service records from the First World War were
destroyed during a German air raid in 1941.

Fifteen different medals were awarded, from the Victoria
Cross to campaign honours such as the Victory Medal, to
British and Commonwealth troops. The online files are based
mainly on index cards recording each serviceman's medals,
reason for decoration and corps, unit and regiment.

"This collection will be relevant to just about anyone
with ancestors living in the UK during World War One and
is both a rich source of military information and a means
of ensuring that the exploits of these brave soldiers are
remembered for generations to come."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

"Quite simply, this is the most complete first world war
collection of what we are calling heroes' exploits," said
Simon Harper, managing director of the genealogy website
Ancestry.co.uk, which has digitised the archive. "There
are other records already online which capture parts of
the service record, but unfortunately a lot of records no
longer survive, so to have a collection this complete is
extremely important." Though other organisations, notably
the National Archives at Kew, allow users to order specific
microfiched records for a fee, this is the first time
they can be browsed online.

The records take the form of colour scans of handwritten
cards, on which details of the medals awarded are recorded,
along with soldiers' addresses, rank, regiment and details
of their service history. The cards carry references to
mentions in dispatches, where appropriate. More than 50,000
records include details of covert operations.

Alongside the ordinary Tommies are a large number of
medal-winners who were or would go on to be well known -
among them Oswald Mosley, AA Milne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
and Lord Louis Mountbatten. Ernest Shackleton, newly
returned from the South Pole in 1917, was considered too
old for the western front but sent to South America on a
propaganda mission, for which he was awarded the 1914
Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The
young Noel Coward was awarded the Silver War Badge,
having served briefly before being discharged for ill
health. Britain's last surviving western front veteran,
Harry Patch, is also represented.

The website, which operates commercially and requires
users to pay a subscription, also allows users to search
first world war pension records, held at the National
Archives, and the remaining military service records.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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