Websites to check out

Wreaths in Hall of Valour

I thought I already knew lots of places to find records, diaries, photos for members of my family who had fought in war, so I quickly marked off those sections in the course. But I am glad I went back to check out the comments from the other students. They included lots of links to other sites around the world as well.

Australian War Memorial records for World War 1

Here is a link to the information sheet from the Australian War Memorial for family historians checking out Australian military history for World War 1. I would suggest this is your first step as it links you to so many other resources to use.

Service Records around the world

When transcribing Aussie records, here is a glossary of abbreviations used. There are many sites to gather bits and pieces to build up your relatives service record. Here are a few:

National Archives Australia – click on name search here, fill in name, use drop down arrow to find the conflict

Discovering ANZACs – Australia and New Zealand

War Diaries are now also digitized for some regiments or units.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission can give details about burial places.

National Archives UK have a great website setup with all World War 1 resources available.

A couple of links for our New Zealand mates are here and here.

If searching for those in Canada, here are some links for them.

Looking for British Army in India who served, go to this wiki for help.


On the Australian War Memorial website, type in war photographers in the search area and up will come the list of 25 people. An interesting person to look at is Frank Hurley, but remember some of his photographs have been manipulated and are composed of a few photographs put together in one.

Kansas City in the USA has a National World War museum at this link.

The Imperial War Museum in the UK also has many photos to look at.

British Pathe has images and video clips to research.

Readers: Do you know of any other great sites I could include for this part of the course?

Jean Davidson mentioned First World War Centenary and while googling this I also found ANZAC Centenary and Great War which includes events around the world. These are more general websites about celebrating the centenary rather than researching your specific person.

Memorials and grief

dorothy virginia moses, mount soledad memorial

quite peculiar via Compfight

Why do we have so many memorials?

Most people couldn’t visit the cemetery where their son or daughter or father was buried after war whether it be World War 1 or World War 2 or more recent wars. Bodies were not brought home to be buried so where could the family grieve?

In Australia, we have many memorial avenues where each tree represents a fallen soldier, or honour boards at RSL clubs noting the names of each person who took part in the war. We also have lots of war memorials in small towns noting those people who served in war from that particular town, not just those who died. Sometimes the small hall in a town is a memorial for the dead or hospital wings named for the fallen. In Britain some stones also include the address of the fallen soldier. Distance was such a big factor in finding somewhere to grieve for the family members.

Tombs of the unknown soldier also allow people to grieve for either an individual or a group who have fallen.

The War Grave Commission wrote a book “Where the Australians rest” describing the cemeteries of where the WW1 dead were buried and this was available to families.

Websites to check out about memorials.

Connecting with families

A new term I learnt was fictive kin – the example of a soldier visiting the parents of his dead mate after or during war. A way of grieving with his family even though you are not related by blood.

Who did the soldiers write home to? Generally it was the mother. Who wrote to the soldiers – usually the mother, maybe brothers and wives but how often did fathers write?

Therefore most of the open grief was shown by the women in the family – but how did it affect the fathers? Maybe they felt they couldn’t show their grief – stiff upper lip and all that. Mother’s grief was paramount, maybe because she gave birth to the child who had now died as a soldier.

Fathers often had to sign the form to allow their sons to go to war if they were under 21. Imagine the grief and guilt he must have felt when they didn’t return.

Some middle class families created scrapbooks or memorial books about the life of their son as a way to remember his life up till his death in war.

But very little is known about the working classes and how they grieved for their dead – very little personal memorabilia around.

Readers: If you have lost someone, not necessarily due to war, how have you shown grief? Was it different for a male partner?