Find Your First World War Connection

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What is a Life Story?

A Life Story is a page created by IWM, for each individual who is on record as having served in uniform, worked on the home front or made a contribution during the First World War.

Who is included?

We are creating a Life Story for every man and woman from Britain and the Commonwealth who made a contribution during the First World War, whether they died during the war or survived the conflict.

Piece together their Life Story

Add photos, stories, records and facts. Sign up for free, read our guides, see our FAQ area and other help options.

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Featured Life Stories

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Charles Algernon Fryatt

26 Remembering

  • On 28 March U33 made another attempt to sink Fryatt, this time commanding the Brussels.
  • Fryatt saw the U-Boat surface and as it was positioning to fire a torpedo, Fryatt changed direction and headed towards the U-Boat, forcing the submarine to crash dive.
  • The German Naval High Command interpreted this as an attempt to ram the submarine and therefore an illegal act of war.
  • For this action Fryatt was awarded a second Gold watch, presented by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
View this Life Story
Private James Ernest Beaney
Private James Ernest Beaney

British soldier James Ernest Beaney served with the Royal West Surrey Regiment during the Battle of the Somme.

Nursing Sister Alexina Dussault
Nursing Sister Alexina Dussault

Canadian Nursing Sister Alexina Dussault served on Hospital Ship SS Llandovery Castle, which was torpedoed in 1918.

Lieutenant Commander Howard Volins Bartlett
Lieutenant Commander Howard Volins Bartlett

Entered service with the Royal Navy in 1911, and during his career rose to the rank of Commander.

Temporary Major William Avery Bishop
Temporary Major William Avery Bishop

Royal Flying Corps Officer William Avery Bishop won the Victoria Cross after a solo mission behind enemy lines.

Answers to Common Questions

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Each individual who is on record as having served in uniform, worked on the home front or made a contribution during the First World War will have their own Life Story page. Life Story pages are created by IWM using information from an official record.

Life Stories start out with just a few key pieces of information. Anyone can view information about an individual, as well as add evidence to their Life Story. We need your help to piece together all the Life Stories to form the Permanent Digital Memorial.

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Start by typing a name into the search bar at the top of the page. You can use a combination of name, unit and number, for example 'WC Tickle', 'Tickle 13510' or '13510 Essex'.

You will see a list of all the Life Stories that match your search criteria. If you find many results for one name, our Guide to Finding a Named Individual may help you to refine your search.

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IWM is creating a Life Story for all those people who made a contribution to the First World War. We have started this process using official records, but it is not yet complete.

If you have information about an individual who doesn't currently have a Life Story page, you can suggest that IWM creates a page for them here: http://support.livesofthefirstworldwar.org/forums/246125-suggested-life-stories 

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There are 5 areas for which you can provide details:

  • Names 
  • Birth, Age and Death 
  • Family and Civilian Life 
  • Military Service 
  • Civilian Contributions 

Adding information is a two-step process - first, add evidence; second, add facts from the evidence. Please read our Guide to Adding to a Life Story for more information.

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There are 3 ways you can add images to a Life Story:

  • Adding a profile image - Simply click the empty profile picture to add your image 
  • Adding images as evidence - If you have scans of a birth certificate, medals or other papers you own, you can upload them as images to use as evidence. Simply click the “Add to Life Story” button to get started. 
  • Illustrating a Timeline fact - If you have an image that illustrates a fact on the Timeline, simply click the camera icon on a Timeline fact.

Please note, you can only upload images where you have the permission of the copyright holder. We have to remove images that breach copyright. Read more about images and copyright in our FAQs.

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Do you have a story that’s been passed down through your family, or have found one in a historical document? You can share these as stories (up to 5000 characters). Simply click the “Add to Life Story” button and use the “Share a Story” button.

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You can connect official records to the Life Story of the person that they relate to and use them as evidence to add facts to the Life Story.

To do this, once you have found the Life Story for the person you are interested in, click the ‘Add to Life Story’ button. There will be three options; click ‘Search Records’. Once you have found records that you are sure relate to the person, click ‘Connect this record to…’.

You can then add facts to the Life Story using the official records as evidence. Please read our Guide to Adding to a Life Story for more information.

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Adding information to a Life Story is a two-step process - first, add evidence; second, add facts from the evidence.

Using the evidence you’ve uploaded, connect any facts that are shown. If you’d like more assistance, please read our Guide to Adding to a Life Story for more information.

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There are 4 types of evidence that you can add:

  • Official Records - there are over 487 million of these on Lives of the First World War. Find out more in the Records Hub 
  • External References - connect evidence found on other websites or publications 
  • Images - you can upload scans of photographs, documents and other memorabilia 
  • Share a Story - enter stories passed down through your family, or found in an historical document

Adding information to a Life Story is a two-step process - first, add evidence; second, add facts from the evidence.

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Lives of the First World War is based on evidence, so that we pass on a rich and accurate legacy to future generations. This means that before you can add a fact to a Life Story, we ask that you first find and share the evidence that proves it. Please read our Guide to Adding to a Life Story for more information.

Browse some of our records

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View our record image scans to discover even more information that isn't found in the transcriptions.

Evidence Records
Australian ANZACs from the National Archives of Australia

This dataset lists Australian ANZACs - they are people who have personnel files for their service in the Australian Imperial Force (AlF) during the First World War. The personnel files are held by the National Archives of Australia (Archives). The entries in this dataset are linked to their personnel files on the Archives site. There you can find Attestation Papers, Service and Casualty Forms and other miscellaneous military documents and correspondence. Soon you will be able to find additional information from Archives and other sources on the Archives site.

376,558
British Merchant Navy, First World War Medal Cards

These records consist of over 157,000 index cards recording the issue of the British War Medal and the Mercantile Marine Medal to merchant seamen and officers in the First World War.

157,424
British Royal Air Force, Airmens' Service Records

Warrant Officers, non-commissioned officers and airmen in the Royal Air Force (RAF) between 1912 and 1919. The record set contains records of more than 300,000 airmen, who were born in over 30 countries.

342,818
British Royal Air Force, Officers' Service Records

Officers who served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) between 1912-1920. This record set contains records of around 100,000 RAF officers.

101,266
British Women's Royal Air Force Service Records

These are the service records of around 27,000 airwomen who served with the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) between 1918 and 1920.

31,090
Canadian Attestation Papers

At the time of their enrollment in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Officers completed a Declaration Paper, volunteers a two sided Attestation Paper and conscripts a single sided Enlistment form. They each contain brief details about the individual. Images supplied by Libraries and Archives Canada. This source was connected by Imperial War Museums.

622,935
Medal Index Cards

Medal index cards were created by the Army Medal Office towards the end of the First World War. They record the medals that men and women who served in the First World War were entitled to claim.

5,476,302
Online Cenotaph: New Zealand Expeditionary Force

This data was provided by Auckland War Memorial Museum, from their Online Cenotaph. This is an biographical database, whose content has been gathered over 18 years, Online Cenotaph pulls together information relating to individual service people from a huge range of sources such as embarkation, military service and other government records, newspapers and families.

99,135
Royal Naval Division Service Records

The British Royal Naval Division was made up of men from the Royal Navy and its reserve forces. These men, who were not needed at sea, fought on land alongside the Army during World War One. The records cover more than 50,000 officers and ratings who joined the Royal Naval Division or who passed through Crystal Palace, London when it was used as an initial training centre during the First World War.

50,869
Royal Navy Officers

The Royal Navy Officers records contain the complete service histories of around 18,000 Royal Navy officers who served with the Royal Navy between 1899 and 1919.

18,000
Women's Army Auxiliary Corp Service Records

These are the service records of more than 7,000 women who joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) between 1917 and 1920. These records are held in series WO 398. The WAAC became the QMAAC in April 1918 and was disbanded in September 1921.

7,006

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