WW1 wills are being digitised: How to find a WW1 soldiers will
12 September 2013 - Which Way To Pay


World War one soldiers' wills revealed in new online archive

The wills and last wishes of 230,000 British Empire soldiers who died during the First World War and have been unseen for a century are being made available online and placed on a new website for the first time.

The wills are being digitised in time for next year's centenary of WWI

The wills, which are owned by Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS), are being digitised in time for next year's centenary of WWI.

Many of the wills and documents are brief and businesslike, written on purpose-printed cards that were handed out to soldiers in the days before they were deployed. Final handwritten wills were kept by troops in their pocket service books and tucked into their uniforms.

An example of a will, by George Peachment, simply reads: "In the event of my death I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother".

Some of the soldiers included personal letters, one of which reads: "I dare say this will be the last letter you will receive from me until the war is over, as I am prepared to move to the front at any moment."

How do I search for a WW1 soldier's will?

A new archive will be made available which will allow you to search the wills of the soldiers who died between 1850 and 1986. To do this, you will simply need:

  1. The soldier's last name and year of death to search for the will
  2. An email address to register for the service
  3. You will need to pay 6 to access a will

Searches can take around five minutes to find a soldier's will.