I am so pleased that we had the opportunity to discuss some of the resources for tracking our families military service. The web now allows us to point and click, type and search our way through thousands of records. A lot of people are becoming interested in their ancestry, especially the roles their loved ones have played in conflicts around the world.
With ANZAC Day just around the corner, we thought it an opportune moment to give viewers, and readers of my blog, a head’s up on war memorial websites that have inf about their grandparents and great-grandparents. First up is the Mapping Our Anzacs site that comes via the national archive. This award-winning portal can be found at www.mappingouranzacs.naa.gov.au. And it is a mine of information. It has more than 375,000 records of diggers who fought in WWI. You can locate a serviceman and add information and photographs. Already up on the site (in most cases) is the actual sign up form in the person’s handwriting. You can even use the Cooliris program, which enables a dynamic 3D viewing experience. Already more than 40,000 people have visited the site since it went live in November 2008, while people from 109 countries have been browsing online.
There is a map that shows where enlisted people were born, and how many people came from that particular town – including those who were born overseas. For families of WWII veterans there is the nominal roll, www.ww2roll.gov.au,which while not as comprehensive as Mapping Our Anzacs, does hold a wealth of information.As well as basic references other items of interest can be found including reasons for a deferment, and whether the person was a casualty of the war. You can also put in a request that allows you to garner more information on a relative who served. In a similar vein is the Korean War Roll, www.koreanroll.gov.au, which not only has information on those who served in Korea during the actual war itself (1950-53), but on those that stayed on after up until 1956.
Unlike some of these rolls, it does not include Aussie servicemen who served in other countries’ armed forces. It is user friendly in that it gives you several ways to search for a relative by a partial surname, or you can specify if they were a POW. Finally, up until the end of this month, www.ancestry.com.au is having an ANZAC promo where you can look up information about your relatives for free.
More than 16 million names are available from nine military collections from Australia, Great Britain, the US and Canada. Reference material includes the newly released British Commonwealth War Graves Registers (1914-1918). Other collections include the ANZAC Memorial, a book comprising a roll of honour of almost 20,000 Australians and New Zealanders who died in WWI.