Sunday, 3 August 2014
The First World War online - findmypast.co.uk
As one of the people responsible for licensing data collections at Findmypast, I must declare an interest in what follows. Earlier today I posted on Ancestry's First World War offering and now I'm going to turn my attention to Findmypast.
I was an Ancestry subscriber many years before I was a Findmypast subscriber. Ancestry had everything I needed, namely the pension records and service records for British Army other ranks. I was researching soldiers from Chailey in Sussex and the irony was that I completed my research when I was living in India, having embarked on the project several years earlier when there was virtually nothing online and trips to the National Archives in Kew were essential. How times have changed.
Over the years, Findmypast has caught up with Ancestry and at the time of writing has also now published the First World War service and pension records. I believe the Findmypast version to be superior. The records are more thoroughly indexed than those on Ancestry meaning that the researcher stands more chance of finding his or her Great War ancestor. Unfortunately, I didn't find any more of my family members but I did find quite a few Chailey men who Ancestry had completely failed to capture. WO 363 and WO 364 are difficult series to index but Findmypast did spend longer going through these records, looking at over 35 million images in the collection not once, but twice. The indexing is not perfect, no indexing is, but I believe it is far superior to the Ancestry version. The records are more thoroughly indexed and there are hundreds of thousands of additional names - snippets mostly - which have never previously been captured.
Findmypast does not have medal index cards but it does have a transcription of the silver war badge roll and it also has great collections for the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Royal Navy officers' service records and Royal Navy ratings' records for the Royal Navy, as well as Royal Air Force officers can all be searched on Findmypast and all have been licensed from The National Archives. In addition, Findmypast has also recently digitised, transcribed and published Airmen's records from the First World War, allowing it to claim the most complete collection of British service records online.
Add to this impressive tally the enrolment books for The Royal Tank Corps and Royal Artillery and various documents from The Honourable Artillery Company and you have some very useful supplementary information, for although the RTC and RA records ostensibly deal with the inter war periods there are a lot of men listed here who have outline sketches of their former service during the First World War recorded.
Findmypast has also recently published a number of partial rolls for various pals battalions and the Welsh Guards and - take it from me - there is a lot more to come.
In common with Ancestry, Findmypast has also published much of the available Naval & Military Press catalogue and it has some extremely useful and unique record collections from before the First World War (which I'll cover elsewhere).
Clicking on any of the Findmypast links on this post will take you straight to their website where you can find out more for yourself.
Tip. When searching on Findmypast, use the A-Z search and also read my First World War service record search tips HERE and HERE.