Searches of UK soldiers' First World War wills hit more than a million

Posted on centenarynews.com on 01 September 2014
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Wills left by British soldiers killed in the First World War have been viewed more than a million times since being put online by the UK Government in August 2013.

The digitised archive of 280,000 wills was released in the run-up to the Centenary to enable people to search for what were often the last messages home from relatives. 

Every soldier had to complete a will before leaving for the front line. Many used this as an opportunity to express their feelings in letters to loved ones. 

In one handwritten message, available in the database, a soldier writes: “…I am only sorry that I did not see you all before I went but…mother dear do not lose heart I may come back again…”

Soldiers carried copies of their wills. Many of the historic documents show physical damage left by the war.

The UK Government's Justice Minister, Shailesh Vara, said online access offered a whole new insight: "The high level of interest in the project’s first year reminds us just how well regarded our brave soldiers remain one century on from the start of this conflict."

"I encourage anyone who has not yet done so to take the opportunity to hear the thoughts and emotions of these soldiers who died for their country in their own words."

The UK government website can be found here.

Information & images supplied by UK Government Ministry of Justice

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News