AUSTRALIA - Ancestry.com.au Offer Free Access To War Records
AUSTRALIA, APRIL 20 2009. ANCESTRY.COM.AU OFFER FREE ACCESS TO WAR RECORDS
For the estimated one in five Australians unsure of their family military histories, now could be the time to find out. An online database is offering free access to its war records for a 10-day period as an Anzac Day promotion. Ancestry.com.au is making more than 16 million names available in nine military collections from Australia, Great Britain, the US and Canada. Material including the newly released British Commonwealth War Graves Registers (1914-1918) will be available free until midnight (AEST) on April 30. Other collections include the ANZAC Memorial, a book comprising a roll of honour of almost 20,000 Australians and New Zealanders who died in World War I. Among them were Private Robert MacTier, who was awarded the Victorian Cross for conspicuous bravery as Australians stormed and seized Mont St Quentin, a pivotal German defensive stronghold on the Somme, in September, 1918. The British data includes names of approximately 90 per cent of the soldiers who fought in the British Army in WWI, including many from Australia. "We estimate that up to 20 per cent of Australians have no idea if they have a digger in their family history,'' said Ancestry.com.au spokesman Brad Argent. "So, whenever military records become available online, they present a very real chance for us to learn.'' More than 330,000 Australians fought in WWI; some 60,000 were killed and over half were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.