In honour of Remembrance Day, we are giving free access to select military records from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada.
The collections will be free to search from 11-13 November, allowing Australians and New Zealanders the opportunity to discover information about their ancestors who served during the Great War.
Many Ancestry.com.au members have discovered extraordinary military stories in their family history including:
- Penny Jennings (VIC), who had always wondered why a photograph of a soldier unrelated to her family hung on the wall of her grandfather’s library. She eventually discovered that he was Cuthbert Urwin, a friend of her grandfather Claud Harris with whom he enlisted in the 10th Field Ambulance Third Division (Victoria) in 1914. When German fighter pilot Baron Manfred von Richthofen was shot down near Morlancourt Ridge in 1918, Cuthbert and Claud were in one of the first ambulance units to arrive at the scene. In the following days, the Germans inflicted heavy assault upon the allies and Urwin was killed and subsequently buried at the Querrieu British Cemetery in France. His memory was preserved in two photographs that were eventually passed down to Penny.
- Dawn Dudkowski (VIC), who tells the story of her grandfather Thomas Ralph Tipton Brain, who was 17 when he enlisted to fight in WWI. After missing the boat to Turkey due to dysentery, he was sent to France where he fought in the battles of The Somme and Villers Bretonneux. After their success, Thomas and his fellow soldiers helped rebuild the Villers Bretonneux, Primary school and to this day Advance Australia Fair is sung by children attending the school. In 1990, Thomas returned to Gallipoli with Prime Minister Bob Hawke to attend the 75th Anniversary celebrations. He told his granddaughter that the dawn service was the most moving event of his life as he lost many friends on Gallipoli whilst he was in the hospital in Egypt and until the service had not had the chance to say goodbye.
- Kate Mills (WA), who discovered a photograph of her 2x great-grandfather William Schmutter wearing a military uniform, taken in 1916 just before he left to fight. This wouldn’t have been unusual except that at the time William was almost 60. Kate discovered that William had lied about his age, changing his name to ‘William Smutter’, aged ‘44 years and 4 months’ at the time of his enlistment. He served overseas as a driver for two years, was injured and transferred to a hospitals in France then England and eventually discharged in 1918.
You can search select military records for FREE until Sunday 13 November. Click here to start searching.
Do you have a military hero in your family? Share your story or photo on our our Facebook page.