Friday 24 April 2015

FindMyPast releases military records, including PoWs

To mark the centenary of the battle of Gallipoli this weekend, Findmypast has released some new military collections from WW1, as well as a huge group of parish record sets for Yorkshire in England.

Here are some brief descriptions of this Friday's deliveries:

Prisoners Of War, 1914-1920
Containing over 43,000 records with images, Prisoners Of War 1914-1920, is the first collection in a series of PoW records to be digitised and published by Findmypast in partnership with The National Archives. These latest additions consist of 10 series of British Foreign Office document’s relating to prisoners held by the Ottomans during World War One They not only include the names of military personnel taken prisoner – both allied and foreign – but also the names of civilians, merchant seamen, fishermen, diplomatic employees and more. They will eventually form part of a wider Prisoners of War Collection, 1715-1945, which on completion will span 230 years and date back to the Jacobite rebellion.

Consisting of lists and general correspondence, the records contain the names, ranks and locations of PoWs and provide insights into life in the Ottoman camps. They contain details of requests made by inmates for items including footballs and biscuits, details of visits by foreign diplomats and reports on camp conditions. The amount of information in each record can vary depending on the type of document and the amount of detail recorded at the time of the event.

Much to my surprise I found a distant relative: William Santry. His townland of origin – Scilly, Kinsale, Co Cork – is recorded in the document so I knew immediately to which family line he belonged; all the men of that family branch made their living on the sea, typically as fishermen, coastguards and merchant seamen. His records in this collection show he was 17-years-old and an Ordinary Seaman serving on the Merchant Ship King George when he, together with 26 colleagues, was captured in December 1916. He was held in the Brandenburg PoW Camp until 1918. Another young lad from Kinsale, John O'Sullivan, was among this group of PoWs.

Australian Imperial Force, Nominal Roll Of The First Railway Section 1917-1920: A very small (453 records) collection of transcripts revealing the names of railway employees who formed the 1st Railway Section of the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force. Typically, the transcript includes name, address and age.

New South Wales, Returned Soldier Settlement Miscellaneous Files 1916-1939:
Did your New South Wales ancestor serve in World War One and become a soldier settler? This record show has details of those servicemen who took part in the soldier settlement scheme and applied to show their eligibility for land. The returned soldiers pursued poultry farming, fruit farming, pig farming, horticulture, market gardening, and other agricultural industries, and settled in various regions around the state. The details provided in this collection includes their address and post-war financial history.

The Australian Military Forces WW2 missing and prisoners of war records list details of some 23,000 servicemen who were recorded as missing or as PoWs in the Pacific theatre of World War Two. The records relate specifically to members of the Australian armed forces who were captured or went missing while serving in the Far East and South West Pacific islands as of 30 June 1944.

Each record includes a transcript that can give the individual’s service number, rank and unit, as well as a note of whether they were missing or had become a prisoner of war. For those listed as POWs, the location of the camp in which they were imprisoned was also recorded. The prisoner of war camps listed span from Borneo to Keijo in Korea, from the Netherlands East Indies (modern-day Indonesia) to Malaya, from Thailand to various camps in Japan itself.

Yorkshire parish registers
I'm not sure exactly what was available previously, but FindMyPast says more than 6million additional records have been uploaded to this collection, which spans 1538-1914. It includes birth, marriage and burial registers, banns, and bishops' transcripts of birth, marriage and burial records.

Bishop’s transcripts were abbreviated copies of the parish records sent to the Diocesan bishop each year. They can be an invaluable source of genealogical information when the original record has not survived.

Irish newspapers
Today's FindMyPast Friday announcement includes mention of four new newspapers being added to the database. I've already covered these arrivals on this blog, so I'm not going to repeat myself, but it's always worth making a reminder that all 72 Irish newspapers in the British Newspaper Archive are included in either the Ireland subscription or the World subscription.

The collection now stands at over 7.7 million articles and covers more than 175 years of Irish history, from 1748 to 1924.