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Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:38 pm
Today's weekly "FindMyPast Fridays" email landed in my inbox as usual today.
As I skimmed through it, I was very excited to read the following (my emphasis):
BRAND NEW RECORDS / BRITISH ARMY SERVICE RECORDS
"Over 1,670,000 additional service records released to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The collection now includes the records of Officers who served during World War 1 and men who served with the famous Household Cavalry between 1801 and 1919."
Wow! I thought ... I could now look at Great Uncle Eddie's army officer record and save on a trip to Kew. So, I've just done a search, I got the WO 339 reference ... and that's it. Just the index reference, which I'd already got from the National Archives website. Now I don't follow the detail of what is being digitised and when; clearly I should. I do know that there is a big push to digitise material connected to WW1, and today of all days would be a very fitting one on which to publish new material.
Do I feel a little misled by the email? Yes. Am I a bit naive too? Possibly. However, in my mind at least, there's a difference between a "record" and an "index entry". Just saying.
Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:27 pm
I felt equally done by their incompetent publicity. There are 2 datasets mentioned - one is described as an index, the other as transcriptions. WO 374 is described as an index on their blog and is exactly that. WO 339 is described as transcriptions of data but is actually identical in format to the 374 stuff - i.e. it's just an index.
Do FMP not understand the difference between a transcript and an index or do they care so little about their customers that they just play buzzword bingo when making up their press releases?
And this is working from the details on the blog. The email just said "records" - an index is not a set of records!
The new WW1 Officers' data is nothing more than a copy of the index from the TNA catalogue. It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth that it comes out on the anniversary of the first day of the Somme when it could have come out any time in the last 2 years.
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Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:52 pm
Thanks, Adrian. Now I know it's not just me I think I'll email FMP. I was so excited ... then so disappointed to find nothing more than what I already knew.
Great Uncle Eddie was something of a family hero on my husband's side. He joined as a regular, got a commission in January 1917 and was sent to the Western Front. I've read the War Diaries of his regiment (he's mentioned by name a couple of times) and have followed his movements during 1917 and early 1918. He was captured and taken prisoner of war at Bullecourt in March 1918 and repatriated on Christmas Day 1918. After a couple of months at home he then went to Germany. Despite surviving all this, he was then accidentally shot dead in a trespass accident while on guard duty.
When my mother-in-law died last year I was charged with the care of lots of photographs and papers, given my interest in family history. These include letters Eddie sent to his mother and sister while in Germany, just days before he died.
Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:24 pm
I agree that it is very misleading as the records have been available at The National Archives (TNA) for years and any more releases would have been announced by TNA.
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