The Imperial War Museum today gave the public access to a huge, unrivaled collection of First World War letters, diaries and photographs, in the centenary year of the beginning of the conflict. The website, called Lives of the First World War, is the first ever digital memorial to the war’s victims and heroes, and it was created with the intention of providing fresh insights into life for the soldiers and at home.
The website contains the records of every person who served with the British Army between 1914 to 1918, which includes more than four million men and 40,000 women. As well as diaries and letters from soldiers to their loved ones back home, the collection also includes records of nurses and their experiences in tending to wounded soldiers. Sister Martha Aitken recorded her experiences in mobile hospitals in France and Flanders, claiming “the sight of the poor wounded will always stay in my memory. I never realised the horrors of war until then.” (To read more on nursing experiences during the First World War, try ‘Dorothea’s War’ by Dorothea Crewdson, which we reviewed in Issue 4 of our magazine. To read a short snippet of our review, click here).
Dan Snow, prolific military historian and Lives of the First World War ambassador, said: “Lives of the First World War will become an extraordinary online memorial, one of the most extraordinary war memorials ever.” The Imperial War Museum is still looking for further additions to add to the collection so if you have any of your own pictures, stories or other documents, then you are able to upload them to the online collection for others to see.
To see the website for yourself, click here.