First World War Commemoration and Family Research

First World War Commemoration and Family Research

Monday 4 August 2014 sees the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

A range of commemorative events will be taking place in the UK and other countries to mark the centenary. By the end of the war, there were very few people in the countries who took part who hadn’t been affected.

The war saw the deaths of more than 9 million combatants, exacerbated by technological advancements and the tactics used by both sides. It also changed the political make-up of many countries, the map of the world altered forever and it heralded widespread cultural and social change in the UK.

Disruption of War

The First World War often comes up in our own work. Probate genealogy looks to the past to find the present rightful heirs to an estate and war is one of those hugely disruptive events which splits families apart, so we need to carefully consider every resource we can use when looking at people living at the time of this event.

Ahead of the 100-year anniversary the Commonwealth Wars Graves Commission has shared a tool which allows you to research its records of more than one million casualties. The records also include those who died at the “official” end of the war in 1921 (not 1918), so it includes those who died of wounds sustained during the latter stages of the war and those who died in service of the influenza pandemic which took place shortly afterwards.

Helpful Websites For Your Research

The Commission also has a website which looks at different battles, events and the timeline of the war. There are also a number of websites which offer plenty of help with tracing relatives who fought in the war, such as and (which includes medal records too).

If you have researched your own family tree, no doubt you will have found some involvement in the First World War somewhere along the line, but you may also have hit a brick wall, thanks to the disruption of war. Branches of the family tree may have vanished, or people may have moved countries as a result, or records can be wrong as we have found on many occasions.

International Reach

Finders has an international reach, and we are able to accurately carry out research which you might find difficult. The road to family reunions can be beset with peril too – as a recent case we worked on identified. We worked on a case where the deceased had left no will and our research showed that there were beneficiaries in Australia and New Zealand.

However, a family member had carried out their own research and they had organised a family reunion – unfortunately, their research hadn’t identified the correct family members. Thanks to our work, however, they were able to identify the right people – ensuring the family get-together was of the right family and, crucially, that the right people inherited the money from the estate.

Do you have ancestors or relatives who played a part in the First World War? We’d love to know! Visit our page on Facebook and share your research with us. And for help with your own family research, or if you believe you are entitled to the share of an estate, contact us here.

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Daniel Curran
Written by Daniel Curran
Daniel is a leading figure in the UK Heir Hunting industry. He is from Isleworth in West London and has lived in London for most of his life. He has been in the probate genealogy profession since 1990. He formed Finders in 1997 after 7 years at another firm.