Monday, September 2, 2013
As I have previously discussed, recently the wills of thousands of WWI soldiers have been published online and can be seen by the public. Before leaving their families and preparing for battle, each soldier drafted a will and put it in his uniform pocket. Now, years later these pieces of history tell the personal stories of thousands.
The physical hard copies of the wills are being preserved in a temperature-controlled warehouse. The wills are owned by Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service. BBC was given access to the first group of wills being digitized for public access. Some wills have letters attached to them with sensitive information about the war while others pour out the soldier's emotions and concerns to their family members. Digitizing the wills and letters will allow people to learn not only about the war, but also about their ancestors.
Military historian John Cooksey said the wills were crucial documents for descendants to cast some light on what a life was like at that time."[The wills] are giving us real nuggets of information which are filling the gaps in a man's service record, because it's not just about the military side, it's about their role in society and the backgrounds they came from."
See Matt Lee World War I Soldier Wills Digitised for Online Archive, BBC News England, Aug. 28, 2013.
Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.