REVIEWS

i) Peter B Boyden, Army Historical Research.

In 1921 His Majestys Stationery Office published an eighty-volume set of books which recorded details of the Soldiers (who had) Died in the Great War. This series, which had been preceded in 1919 by a single volume that listed the commissioned officers who also perished in the conflict, was one of a number of contemporary publications which sought to commemorate those who had sacrificed their lives in the war. International events during the 1930s, culminating in the Second World War, deflected attention away from histoorical aspects of the Great War, and little interest in Soldiers Died existed as late as the 1970s. However, the burgeoning interest in family history which has developed since the mid-1970s led to increased demand for access to the series. This was initially met by Manchester Public Library, which sold microfilm copies of their set to a number of institutions and researchers. The release of the First World War medal rolls was a further boost to interest in Soldiers Died, and this was met by two attempts to reprint the set in hard copy, of which that undertaken by J. B. Hayward & Son in conjunction with the Department of Printed Books at the Imperial War Museum was successfully completed in 1989.

Soldiers Died is arranged regimentally, so that if the unit in which a man was serving at the time of his death is not known, it can be extremely time-consuming to trace his entry. In addition, other searches, for example of all the men born in Manchester who died in the war, were impracticable to undertake except by those with limitless amounts of spare time. This CD-ROM version, produced by Naval & Military Press, in which all the data may be searched by regiment, battalion, surname, Christian name, initials, rank, number, place of birth, enlistment and residence, date and nature of death, theatre of war and supplementary notes - previous regiments, decorations, etc. - represents a major advance for those researching the Army dead of the First World War, from whichever angle they wish to approach it.H The CD also includes the data on dead officers in a separate database.

The availability of the data on 665,000 soldiers and 37,000 officers in a complete and searchable digital database (to quote from its box) will greatly facilitate the work of those researching locality-based projects, such as men commemorated on civic war memorials. It also offers immediate benefits to one name researchers, and may well facilitate some new areas of study, among which may be mentioned the analysis of personal numbers. Time alone will tell how this resource will influence the study of the British Army in the First World War, but until the results are read in the pages of this, and other journals, the CD-ROM Soldiers Died in the Great War is to be given an unqualified welcome.

ii)Ann Clayton, The Western Front Association.

The Trustees of the WFA decided last year that this was such an important resource that Associaton funds should be used to ensure that every member, via his/her WFA Branch, should have access to it. Branches will by now have received their copy of this CD-ROM, and will have already found just how useful it is. The beauty of it is that the database of 703,000 names can be searched in many ways. For example, want to know how many men died on the day of the Christmas Truce in 1914? Or how many men enlisted in, say, Birkenhead and died on the first day of the Somme? Or how manqy men of the Cheshires died in Gallipoli? This is in addition to the individuals whose details one might need, for example when researching a war memorial. I think of the hours I have spent, heaving great ledgers around in the CWGC at Elverdingestrasse, Ieper, trawling through regiments because I only had individuals names and little else. Now the results are almost instant.

The first date on which there is any data is 1 January 1914, and the last date is 31 December 1921. Between these dates no fewer than 34 Brigadier Generals lost their lives. Only two Field Marshals died between 4 August 1914 and 11 Novermber 1918 - they were Kitchener and Roberts, of course. Only one veterinary surgeon died in the war itself (he drowned), but 419 other ranks from the Veterinary Corps died or were killed - 20 of them killed in action. Women are not omitted either, from Matron to Miss.

The scope for analytical studies seems to be endless. Local studies too will benefit enormously from the publication in this form of this database. A tremendous effort by Naval & Military Press, and by the designers and transferrers of the database, not forgetting the WFAs Geoff Bridger who ironed out a lot of the wrinkles. Overall I cannot recommend this CD-ROM too highly.

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