First World War Merchant Navy crew lists digitised

By Guest, 6 July 2015 - 11:44am

A digital database containing the names of over 750,000 seamen who served in the First World War has been launched on the web

Anglo-Californian Master Parslow First World War 1915

The story of Frederick Daniel Parslow, awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously in 1915, was uncovered by researchers (Credit: National Maritime Museum/The National Archives)

Details of men who served in the Merchant Navy during the First World War are now searchable online thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteers.

Launched last week, the Crew Lists of the British Merchant Navy database provides access to the records of more than 750,000 seamen who were serving in 1915, providing the ages, ranks and names of the ships they served on.

Given that no records for individual merchant seamen from the First World War exist, the crew lists are effectively the only way in which their efforts can be researched in any detail. However, whereas it was previously only possible to access the records by visiting the National Maritime Museum in person, family historians can now quickly find their ancestors on the web by typing in their name.

The records were transcribed by hundreds of ‘e-volunteers’ over the course of three years, including former members of the Merchant Navy, working remotely in countries including France, Italy, Japan and Australia. The volunteers downloaded electronic copies of the lists and entered the details of 39,000 voyages into an online database from their own computers.

In the process of transcribing the records, the researchers also discovered untold stories of fallen heroes, such as Frederick Daniel Parslow, the first Mercantile Marine individual to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Parslow, master of cargo vessel Anglo-Californian (1912), was killed by a German U-boat 90 miles from the Irish coast after standing his ground for hours.

The database was officially launched on Tuesday 30 June on board the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London. The event was attended by members of the Merchant Navy Association, as well as respresentatives from The National Archives and the National Maritime Museum, which were responsible for leading the project.

To explore the database for free, click here

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TV and Radio highlights: 10-16 July 2015
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Genealogy news round-up: Free Merchant Navy crew lists go online
previous news Article
TV and Radio highlights: 10-16 July 2015
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