Findmypast Releases Latest Installment of Landmark Prisoner of War Collection

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

  • findmypast_logoFindmypast releases over 764,000 new records in the latest phase of landmark PoW collection
  • New additions span 230 years of conflict, from the Napoleonic Wars to World War 2
  • New function added allowing researchers to browse through over 270,000 images from 1,156 archival pieces

London, 24th June 2016

Today, 24th June 2016, over 764,000 records of servicemen, women and civilians who were taken captive during the Napoleonic, Crimean, Boer, First and Second World Wars have been published online for the first time at Findmypast.

The publication, released in partnership with The National Archives, marks the latest installment of Findmypast’s Prisoners Of War 1715-1945 collection, a fascinating collection of British Cabinet, Admiralty, Air Ministry, Colonial Office, Foreign Office, and War Office documents spanning 230 years of conflict.

This latest phase consists of a wide variety of documents taken from 330 different sources and includes:

  • Over 463,000 new additions covering the Napoleonic Wars
  • Over 255,000 new World War 2 records
  • Over 34, 000 Boer War records
  • Over 7,500 World War 1 records
  • Over 3, 000 Crimean war records

Findmypast has also created a new Prisoners of War 1715-1945 Browse function that gives historians and relatives the ability to select individual archival pieces and read the entire folder from beginning to end. This is an exciting addition for military history enthusiasts, academics and researchers who wish to explore the history of specific locations, regiments, or events in depth.

The records are incredibly diverse and not only include military personnel, but also civilians, diplomats, missionaries and merchant seamen. Each record contains a transcript listing the name, nationality, rank, regiment or ship name, and location of a Prisoner of War.

The records also include over 270,000 images of original documents. The nature of these documents varies owing to the enormous scope and scale of the collection. Some will consist of lists of deaths, files on escapees and detailed records of daily life, while others will reveal additional biographical details about individual inmates including physical descriptions, witness statements, medical reports and more.

Included in the records are:

  • Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader – despite losing both legs in a 1931 plane crash, Bader became a top flying ace during World War 2. He was credited with more than 22 aerial victories before being shot down over Northern France in 1941. Despite his disability, Bader made a number of escape attempts and was eventually sent to the prisoner of war camp at Colditz Castle. He remained there until April 1945 when the camp was liberated by the First United States Army. During the 1950s, a book and a film, Reach for the Sky, chronicled his life and RAF career
  • Holzminden officers’ prisoner-of-war camp – the location of the largest PoW escape of the Fist World War. In July 1918: 29 officers escaped through a tunnel, of whom ten evaded subsequent recapture and managed to make their way back to Britain
  • The names of the 76 escapees from Stalag Luft III, immortalised in The Great Escape, grouped according to their fates
  • Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO – one of the toughest professional soldiers to ever serve with the British Army. De Wiart served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear and tore off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. He also survived two plane crashes, one of which resulted in his capture by Italian forces in 1941. Whilst in captivity, De Wiart made five escape attempts including seven months tunnelling and once evaded capture for eight days disguised as an Italian peasant. De Wiart was released in 1943 when the Italian government tasked him with delivering peace terms to London
  • American, French, Spanish, British and Russian prisoners of the Napoleonic wars including high ranking officers such as Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand, Comte de Linois – the French Admiral who defeated the Royal Navy at the Battle of Algeciras in 1801. Durand was captured while attacking British trade routes off Cape Verde in 1803
  • The names of seven Americans ‘killed by military’ during the Dartmoor Massacre of 1815. These men had been captured by the British during the War of 1812 but were still being held at Dartmoor Prison years later. After prisoners became restless and demanded to be released, a misunderstanding occurred and guards fired into the crowd resulting in the deaths of seven men

The entire Prisoners Of War 1715-1945 collection now contains over 2 million records.

Paul Nixon, military expert at Findmypast, says: “Findmypast’s latest release has taken the total number of records in this Prisoner of War collection to over 2m. How much pain and suffering is contained within that total, is quite another matter but by bringing these records to a wider audience, we are at least able to bear witness to our ancestors’ sufferings.”

About Findmypast

Findmypast (previously DC Thomson Family History) is a British-owned world leader in online family history. It has an unrivalled record of online innovation in the field and 18 million registered users across its family of online brands, which includes Lives of the World War 1, The British Newspaper Archive and Genes Reunited, amongst others.

Its lead brand, also called Findmypast, is a searchable online archive of over eight billion family history records, ranging from parish records and censuses to migration records, military collections, historical newspapers and lots more. For members around the world, the site is a crucial resource for building family trees and conducting detailed historical research.

In April 2003, Findmypast was the first online genealogy site to provide access to the complete birth, marriage, and death indexes for England & Wales, winning the Queen’s Award for Innovation. Since that time, the company has digitized records from across the globe, including major collections from Britain, Ireland, Australia, and the United States. Findmypast, in association with The National Archives, recently launched the 1939 Register, a record of 41 million lives on the eve of World War II.

About The National Archives

The National Archives is one of the world’s most valuable resources for research. As the official archive and publisher for the UK government, and England and Wales we are the guardians of some of the UK’s most iconic national documents, dating back over 1,000 years. Our role is to collect and secure the future of the government record, both digital and physical, to preserve it for generations to come, and to make it as accessible and available as possible. The National Archives brings together the skills and specialisms needed to conserve some of the oldest historic documents as well as leading digital archive practices to manage and preserve government information past, present and future.

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