Lives of the First World War

Lives of the First World WarTo help commemorate the First World War, the Imperial War Museum (IWM) has launched a digital memorial to record the life of every person who served in uniform or worked on the home front during World War One.

During the next five years the “Lives of the First World War” will become the permanent digital memorial to over 8 million men and women. This memorial is still a work in progress; not all of the records are yet online and more will be added over the coming months.

Over the coming months, millions of additional new records will be added to Lives of the First World War – from the Royal Flying Corp/Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the Australian and New Zealand Imperial Forces along with the records of almost 17,000 conscientious objectors. IWM is also seeking to include the Indian Army, Home Front workers and all others who made a contribution from across the British Empire.

Lives of the First World War will continue to evolve over the First World War Centenary and new functionality will be added so that people can easily share and discuss who they are remembering online.

The “Lives of the First World War” is a project that anyone can contribute to by adding to the records, perhaps by uploading a picture, sharing a family story or connecting to official records that will help build up a picture of what happened to someone who served during the war.

You might recall I wrote about my great uncle who served in the RAMC during the war. His name was Harry Jefferson and I found a record for that name. The record has no other details against it so I wasn’t sure if it was the right Harry Jefferson. We have a medal with his name on the edge which my grandfather (Harry’s brother) gave to me when I was a child. I had given the medal to my dad and he kept it with his own service medal.

A couple of weeks ago my Mum and I had a little trip down memory lane by way of looking through dad’s bedside box of trinkets and cufflinks etc. I found a medal but not the one I was expecting to find (which I hope will turn up eventually). Luckily, the medal I found was Harry’s British War Medal, 1914-18 which has his service number, rank and name engraved on the side.

I was therefore able to establish that the digital memorial record I had found was his. I will be taking part in the project by adding the few things I know about him to his individual memorial record.

3 thoughts on “Lives of the First World War

  1. What a huge effort this will be, and what a great way to ‘include’ so many people who might be able to contribute.

    I have no idea at all of my family’s involvement in the Great War. I do know a little of my grand-dad on my dad’s side who was in the Boer War. He was the fellow who was shot at by two snipers, whose bullets struck together, one penetrating the other. The ‘crossed’ bullets were given by him to my dad and he gave them to me. I have given them to my son. But what he did in the 14-18 war I do not know.

    • I find the project inspiring and the stories as they are added will be interesting.

      Most of my male ancestors did not take part in either WWI or WWII, they were in reserved occupations. Yes some of them did try to sign up but their mothers and others persuaded (even ordered) them not to.

      In the post WWII days my dad was called up for National Service and served with the Royal Engineers in Malaysia/Singapore luckily he didn’t see any action. He was just 6 months away from taking exams to qualify as a Chartered Surveyor and he asked if he could delay his deployment until after his exams. The answer was no, which was always a sore point because after he had done his stint at National Service he had to start again with his course and exams…

      After he had done his duty he was offered a commission because they wanted to keep him. His answer was NO!! 🙂

  2. I have followed Vision & Verb from day one and I felt honoured to be invited to join in 2011. I have enjoyed and been inspired by our shared journey of thoughts, visions and verbs. It is with much love that I thank you all for your kindness and friendship over the years xx
    July 7, 2014 | Registered CommenterCherry

    What a truly wonderful project. I love that it is so inclusive, and aims to recognise everyone, not just the ‘heroes’. In my mind, the unsung heroes are often at least as courageous as those who usually get the attention, and how wonderful that you can add some more information to the treasure trove.
    And, echoing your gratitude for all here at Vision and Verb. So very much.
    July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSoosie

    Love hearing about these kinds of projects. Technology has changed the way in which we can reach out to the world and archive and record the stories that would otherwise be forgotten. What a wonderful memorial to your great uncle!!!
    July 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterMarcie

    I really like the concept of a digital memorial where relatives can add their personal stories and history, thus making the memorial so much more grand and inclusive. And, so happy that you found the medal and are able to confirm the history was YOUR Harry Jefferson!

    Thank you Cherry.
    July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

    I just LOVE little “trinkets” like this that you have shown here, Cherry, but even more so when they have such incredible meaning. Digital formatting has simply opened up the sky for who knows what in the years to come. It will be ho-hum for our kids and their kids, who will never remember what it was like before. How great that you will be able to add your own “treasures” to this store of information. Thanks for sharing!
    July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGinnie

    It is truly amazing what one might find in the family “archives”. Often family stories begin to take more historical shape and fill in the blanks that were always questions. Thank you Cherry!
    July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElena Caravela

    What a beautiful way to commemorate those who served for us, and to keep those memories alive. And it’s so wonderful that you have these medals, as tangible pieces of those lives. This sounds like a fabulous project, one of the ways that the internet can truly be used for something good and powerful.
    July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

    So much to say here Cherry. First what an incredible project in which you are able to participate on such a personal level. To share your Uncle’s story and add to this archive is wonderful. I have lost so many stories of my male uncles and grandfathers and their service to this war and others. Many were decorated and had stories I will never hear. But I am so pleased that millions even the objectors there will have their stories and names on this memorial. Thank you for sharing this amazing story!!
    July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

    A women after my heart! A love for meaningful trinkets! My mom asks me all the time…”why would you want that?” Love the idea of a digital memorial. So many people aren’t able to travel and this is the next best thing for visiting!
    July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGotham Girl Aka Robin

    Your macro of Harry Jefferson’s British War Medal is perfect Cherie…
    i enjoyed your telling the story about how you got it… lost it and found it again…
    The “Lives of the First World War” sounds like a wonderful project and i wish it all the success possible.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    July 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter….Peter:)

    Harry’s medal is wonderful Cherry. I’m fascinated by this as my own two Grand Uncles fought in WW1……..I must look them up too.
    July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

    I like this idea to keep in mind those who served during “the Great War”. No matter on which side they fought, they all were humans, suffering.
    My daughter recently had a history project – the students had to find time witnesses to some -more or less – recent historical ‘event’. She interviewed her great-uncle – my mother’s younger brother ‘ – who was a POW in the Soviet Union for ten years after WWII. Some of his “stories” were heartbreaking. For us, they are now recorded forever.
    July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarola

    Sounds like a wonderful project to record a more personal touch on history, which is so much more interesting and real than what we learn in text books.
    July 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaery Rose

    Cherry, what a project. It is great that it has started before many more memories will be forgotten. These little pieces of information will help to draw a detailed map of stories and fates. It must be exiting to take part in it personally!
    July 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPetra

    your heart for honoring those that have gone before
    is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
    thanks Cherry
    (I think honor is such a rich, noble, life-giving quality)
    July 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Richardson

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