Indexing WWI Soldiers 2

On November 11th, we celebrate the Armistice. Between 1914 and 1918, 7 million civilians and 11 million military personnel died during those four years ; among them, more than 53 000 American soldiers, 953 000 soldiers from the British Empire, and more than 1 million of French soldiers.1

2014 – 2018, a hundred year laters, we celebrate those who fought for their / our country. Many commemorations are taking place in France. Genealogical societies, standalone genealogists, or passionates, had made researches about the WWI soldiers of their town, followed by a publication of a book, or an exhibit.

One such initiative brings together hundreds of participants throughout France, and abroad.

fact sheet Corporal Stuart WALCOTT2. Photo credit Mémoire des Hommes – Ministère de la Défense


More than 1.3 millions soldiers who died during this war, and have obtained the mention « Mort pour la France » (In Remembrance), 95 000 have not obtained the mention. After the First World War, the Veterans Administration has developed fact sheets for each dead soldiers (killed, missing in action, disease death). It’s a total of 1.4 millions of these sheets are available online, on Mémoire des Hommes.There is an English version of the site. Go to Conflicts and operations / First World War / Those who died for France.

For each sheet, the following information is given : rank, military unit, place of birth, recruiting office, recruiting year, ID number, date of death, place of death, department of death, country of death, place of registration, department of registration, country.

Indexing WWI Fallen Soldiers

So far, 1 500 volunteers have indexed 695 636 sheets. The top ten contributors have indexed over 160 00 sheets3 ! Among them, 250 are participating to the collaborative challenge 1 Jour 1 Poilu

1 Jour 1 Poilu - Collaborative Challenge. Photo credit @1Jour1Poilu

1 Jour 1 Poilu – Collaborative Challenge. Photo credit @1Jour1Poilu

Jean-Michel Gilot, who launched this challenge in 2014, aim to complete the indexation by November 11th, 2018. At the beginning, volunteers were indexing one Poilu (French soldier) a day. Now, more and more are indexing those of their town, department, those of have the same family name, date of birth, etc. Not only French genealogists or historians are involved in this challenge : a Canadian genealogist, Vicky Lapointe (@vickylapointe) is indexing soldiers from Brittany, a history teacher, Marie-Claude Bonneau-Darmagnac (@mcbd) is indexing with her students (Be sure to read “Plateforme 14/18”

Why Indexing?

Indexing helps the community. Not only, will it be easier to search for a soldier in the database, but also, it will help historians to have more advanced data. Did you know that the exact name of soldiers killed at Verdun is still unsure, as well as the number of those killed on August 22nd, 1914, said to be the deadliest day of the whole war ?

While researching and indexing, some have discovered that such soldier was not on the town memorial, or did not had the mention In Remembrance. So, they did all the administrative procedure to emerge them from oblivion, and got them the mention, or the inscription on the memorial.

All those indexed sheet, along with indexed military registers, can also be found on the website Grand Memorial, It is an easy way to find a WWI soldier. Enter a name, a surname, and you may find the soldier you were looking for.

Reugny Memorial. Photo credit By Guilmetayer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Reugny Memorial. Photo credit By Guilmetayer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  1., last modified on 27 September 2016. 


  3. « 1 Jour 1 Poilu, un défi numérique au service de la mémoire », La Croix, 19 August 2016, 

Sophie Boudarel

About Sophie Boudarel

Sophie is a professional genealogist specializing in organization. Through her blog ( she provides helpful tips to genealogists who are looking for a better organization. She also trains each year genealogists who are in need of a better organization system. Sophie collaborates with the Revue Française de Généalogie, the first French genealogical magazine. Her collaboration includes training sessions, writing both for the magazine and their blog specialized in the use of technology for genealogy (

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