Saturday, October 18, 2014

475. World War One POW Database...Finally!

   Way back in 2009, as I was putting together a World War One genealogy program, I came across the following item in a family history news publication:

  Detective work by a British historian has unearthed information that could enable thousands to piece together their family histories.
  Peter Barton had been commissioned by the Australian government to carry out research, following the discovery of a mass grave on World War I battlefield at Fromelles in France.
  That trail led him to the Red Cross Museum in Geneva, and to the card indexes and registers compiled between 1914 and 1918. Details include whereabouts of prisoners, their condition or injuries at the time of capture, and the location of field burials.
  Some of the records refer to other mass graves, with exact directions as to where they were dug, and the identities of the soldiers who were buried. Where possible, the registers include home addresses and next of kin.
  The Red Cross is working to organize the archive and to digitize the records, and they hope to have the archive online by 2014.
  He was given access to the basement of the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva. There, he was allowed to examine records that have lain virtually untouched since 1918.
  He estimates that there could be 20 million sets of details, carefully entered on card indexes, or written into ledgers.
  They deal with the capture, death, or burial of servicemen from over 30 nations drawn into the conflict; personal effects, home addresses and grave sites cover page after page.
  All were passed to the Red Cross by the combatants; volunteers logging the information by hand before sending it on to the soldiers' home countries.

   About a month ago, when I was updating that same program to present it to a workshop, I came across my note, saw the target date and gave it a search on Google. I was pleased to find that my patience had paid off; the database is now complete and available for research.
    The URL is Please note that many of the search reports are in French. I don't have any family POW's, but any multi-million item database is not to be sneezed at. Could this source do you some good in your family?

1 comment:

  1. Ron,
    For what it's worth, I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award. No obligation, but just want you to know that I appreciate your blog.