Wednesday, 26 January 2011

First World War Blinkers

No, I've not gone mad and splashed out on ninety five year old War Office horse furniture on e-bay. WW1 blinkers is a term I like to apply to well meaning people who research their local war memorials BUT only look into those who died between 1914 and 1918.

Don't get me wrong, I think their heart is in the right place. My problem is that on most war memorials there are also names of those who died between 1939-1945 and where is the research on them?

Can anyone help me with this? Why ignore the brave men and women who died in the Second World War when compiling a roll of honour, is it too recent or is there something more. After all, there is a pressing reason to research the Second World War now while relatives and friends of the deceased are still living.

Is it perhaps easier to research the Great War names? Certainly there are plenty of online resources to research Great War soldiers and sailors; currently far more than for the Second World War.

That leads me onto another little bugbear of mine - published rolls of honour which only use data from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Soldiers Died in the Great War. That may have been OK ten years ago when there were fewer online resources available but in 2010 that is just a cop out. The number of available sources is actually growing, with new books published on a regular basis, and new sources of first-hand information becoming availble - the recent release of records on both Ancestry and Find My Past has opened new doors to researchers. Projects like our own Daily Record Index are also a useful source of information - so why ignore them?

I'm starting to sound like a grumpy old man now and I really don't want to start denigrating folk who are sincere in their actions. It's just I can help get this feeling whenever I see a story like the one we posted recently about Carnoustie. With a little bit more effort by researchers the people who died beating Hitler, the Nazis and their evil Axis cronies would also get the recognition they so rightly deserve.

(Text by Adam Brown)

1 comment:

  1. Adam,

    I believe this is an issue of practicality and government red tape. I used to work in the Disclosures Branch at the MoD and the Second World War personnel files/service records are not public domain yet. Under the Data Protection Act (1998), only the soldiers themselves or the next of kin of deceased soldiers can access this information at this present time. I believe that a lot of people start their research by gaining a copy of their subject's service record and generally take it from there. I used to get family history calls everyday thanking me for the copy of the record and asking me what to do next.

    Perhaps when the DPA rules over the docs expire, more interest will be created. However, who knows when that will happen. By law, though there are exceptions, personnel files are closed for 100 years. The First World War service records are the major exception to this rule, probably because the vast majority of veterans had passed away when they were made public domain (I can't remember the exact reason).

    Like yourself, I hope that more research gets picked up soon.