I am a little late for Veteran’s Day but it is never too late to remember your ancestors who fought in the various wars including WW I and WW II. This article will focus on some online databases which can be used to search for veterans from the British Commonwealth, United States and Germany who died during these wars.
I received the idea to write this article concerning war veterans from a friend of mine at work. He has been searching off and on without much luck, for his grandfather and other relatives who fought for the British Army during World War II. He asked me if I knew of any sites where he could find information on these veterans and frankly, I didn’t know of any right off hand. I had been able to find my relatives who died during WW I and WW II online a few years ago. Many of them happened to be Germans who had mostly died in France during the wars and their cemeteries had been indexed. This made some interesting reading even though none of it was written in English. I had also been able to find records for many of my ancestors from the United States who had fought in these wars. But I hadn’t tried to find any British records even though most of my wife’s ancestors are of British descent.
Well, a little research later and I am able to say that I have found an excellent website that contains details about the veterans from the British Commonwealth nations including Britain, Canada, Australia and others, who died during these wars. The site is managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and can be found at http://www.cwgc.org/. This site contains the records of over 1.7 million men and women who died during these wars and the 23,000 cemeteries they are buried in. The search screen is very intuitive and the results include name, rank, serial number, date of death, age, regiment, nationality, and cemetery. A detailed view is also available which may include names of family members and a description of the memorials that commemorate these brave men and women. You can also see lists of the veterans buried in each cemetery if you are interested. There are also histories of some battles, videos commemorating some of these veterans and educational materials on this site. Many of these materials can be used as educational materials to explain what life was like during those times.
There are many databases on the internet that provide information on US veterans. Most of you have probably heard of the Draft Registration Card indexes at Ancestry.com and KindredKonnections.com. But another site that I have used is the Nationwide Grave Locator run by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This site is located at http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/. The search screen is also very easy to use and it provides the details of veterans who have died since 1997. You can find the branch of service, dates of birth and death, and the location of the cemetery where the individual is buried.
While I am at it I might as well talk about the website that I used to discover my German war veterans also. This site is the Deutsche Gräbersuche Online and can be found at http://www.volksbund.de/graebersuche. The site includes records from 4.4 million veterans who died during the war. One thing to remember when using this site is that it is written completely in German. If you can’t read German, I suggest that you use one of the online services such as Google’s translator at http://translate.google.com/ to find your way around the site. This site asks you for your name and some other basic information before it allows you to search their records but all of the results are presented to you at no cost.
Have fun digging up your veterans!