The following announcement was written by Ancestry.ca:
More than 100,000 records of WWII British and Commonwealth POWs published online
- Records include British and Commonwealth personnel imprisoned between 1939 and 1945 in Germany, Austria and Poland
- Thousands of Canadians may find ancestors in this collection
- These POW records have never before been available online
TORONTO, ON – August 26 – With the 70th anniversary of the start of World War Two (September 1, 2009) approaching, Ancestry.ca has launched online British Army Prisoners of War, 1939-1945, which contains the records for more than 100,000 prisoners of war (POW) captured during the conflict, including the names of many ancestors of living Canadians.
Ten million Canadians or nearly one-third of Canada’s population claims British heritage, which means that many Canadians with ancestors who fought for or alongside the British Army may be able to find ancestors in this collection.
Included are the records for all British Army personnel held in Germany, Austria and Poland during World War Two, and also hundreds of Canadian troops. They were compiled by the German military authorities under the 1929 Geneva Convention, which requires opposing forces to notify each other of captured combatants.
As one of the few World War Two archives not subject to the UK’s ‘75-year rule,’ this collection is a vital resource for anyone looking to trace British and Commonwealth soldiers captured by German Forces during the war. The majority of World War Two records are not yet available to the general public as individual records are still protected by the rule.
The POW camp where a soldier was held depended on where he was captured and his rank. The Stalag (base camps) held ratings and general personnel, while the Oflags housed officers only.
The conditions the prisoners faced in these camps varied greatly, with western forces receiving better treatment from the Germans than their allies in the East, particularly the Russians.
In addition to the POW records, Ancestry.ca has also published online the UK Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945, featuring the records of all British Army personnel killed in action during World War Two.
The ‘Roll of Honour’ contains more than 170,000 names and was compiled between the end of 1944 and 1949. Details include the perished soldier’s name, rank, date of death, service number, birth place, residence, branch at enlistment and regiment at death.
Ancestry.ca Marketing Director Karen Peterson comments: “These records will be very helpful for anyone in Canada with ancestors who fought with the British in World War Two and their release is particularly significant given that so few records from this time are available for people researching their family’s military history.
“The men who fought and gave their lives will always be remembered, but record collections like these serve as an additional reminder of the sacrifices they made.”