Monday, November 19, 2012

British World War I Pension Records Saved

The Western Front Association (WFA), a group whose purpose is to educate the public about the history of the Great War with particular emphasis on the Western Front, announced on November 8 that it had preserved an archive of 6.5 million British pension cards and related records from World War I.  The Ministry of Defence was no longer able to maintain the archive, and the possibility existed that the records would be destroyed for lack of a caretaker.  The WFA was able to step in, and the archive has been transferred to its premises.

Pension cards were created for each British soldier, sailor, airman, and nurse who was wounded and survived the war, and for dependents of those who were killed.  A card can have information such as birthdate and location, date of death, names and birthdates of children, service number and regiment, wounds suffered during the war, and more.  Some of this information might not be available otherwise, as many World War I records were destroyed during the Blitz of World War II.

The WFA plans to digitize the cards and create a searchable database.  It is looking at potential partnerships, so it is possible the database may appear on an already existing subscription site.  As it will take a while for the records to be digitized, there are plans to offer manual look-ups in the near future.  Check the Web site for updates.

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