Tomorrow, the eleventh of November, is noted in French calendars as Armistice 1918, the day when the the Armistice to end hostilities between Germany and the Allies was signed in a railway carriage, allowing the beginning of negotiations to end the Great War. Traditionally, on that day, every city, town and village has a small ceremony before its Monument aux Morts. Flowers are placed at the base of the monument and a minute of silence in remembrance of those who died in the conflict is observed. This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of that war and, as we have related, all of France, it seems, is remembering or commemorating in some way.
Among genealogists and archivists, there is a major effort to find and preserve as much information as possible about the men and women involved and to make that information available to the general public.
One of the most important of these efforts has been that of the Ministry of Defence for the fallen of all French wars, Mémoire des Hommes. On the page dedicated to the First World War, the Ministry announces that it has added 95,000 names and details of people who died but whose names, for some bureaucratic reason or other, were not included among those 1.3 million who officially died for France, Morts pour la France.
Additionally, last year, the Ministry set up pages for collaborative indexing and annotation of entries in the database, so the value of it will be increasing. Sophie Boudarel has made the indexing her theme for the month of November, encouraging her readers to participate in the *correction below indexing campaign, 1 Jour, 1 Poilu (a soldier a day).
On another archival front, the Archives nationales d'Outre-Mer (ANOM) have put online the enlistment records for those who served in the Great War from :
- The French Coast of Somalia
- French West Africa
- French Polynesia
- New Caledonia
If you are seeking an ancestor or cousin from France or one of her colonies who fought in World War I, do look at the new developments on these websites. As many, many Departmental Archives have added the enlistment records covering the years 1914-1918, be sure to check those too.
*Correction - 1 Jour 1 Poilu is independent of the Ministry of Defense and not, as we reported mistakenly, a part of it..
©2014 Anne Morddel