First World War medal rolls go online for the first time

By Jon Bauckham, 13 November 2014 - 6:14pm

Millions of First World War medal records held by The National Archives have been digitised for the first time and uploaded to Ancestry.co.uk

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Millions of names feature in the digitised records, including men who received 'no medals' for acts deemed as 'cowardice' or desertion (Credit: The National Archives)

More than six million First World War records have been digitised and made available online for the first time.

Genealogy website Ancestry.co.uk has launched the WW1 Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-20 collection, providing details of all men and women who received campaign medals for their wartime service.

Fully searchable by name, regiment and regimental number, the documents were previously only accessible in person at The National Archives (TNA).

Although the organisation’s linked collection of Medal Index Cards has been available online for a number of years, the information provided in the cards can sometimes be quite vague.

However, checking the full Medal Rolls can reveal additional details about the battalions and the exact dates of a person’s service – crucial for tracking down regimental War Diaries.

While most troops were decorated with the British War Medal, Allied Victory Medal, 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star, the scans also contain details of foreigners who received the Allied Subjects Medal for helping Britain on the front line – whether spying on the enemy or sheltering soldiers from capture.

In addition, searching the Medal Rolls reveals individuals who forfeited their medals, either through acts that were deemed at the time as 'cowardice' or criminal activities. This includes the likes of 25-year-old Harry Farr from Kensington, whose entry simply states: “Shot for cowardice: 18/10/16.”

“From the thousands of brave young privates who went over the top at the Somme, to fearless field nurses tending to severely wounded soldiers, this collection immortalises millions of the service men and women who contributed to British and allied victory in the Great War,” said Ancestry.co.uk’s senior content manager, Miriam Silverman.

“This collection will also act as permanent digital reminder of their sacrifice and allow people up and down the country to discover more about the war hero in their own family tree.”

This article was adjusted on 14 November to clarify that Harry Farr was executed for actions deemed 'cowardice' at the time, not by modern-day standards

 

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Weekly round-up: Records of WW1 soldiers Mentioned in Dispatches now online
previous news Article
TV and Radio highlights: 14 – 20 November 2014
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