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Subject:

D-Day Heroes go Online

From:

Mary Wills <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Mary Wills <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 25 May 2004 15:46:28 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (146 lines)

The names of up to 12,000 soldiers who were granted awards for gallantry in
North West Europe between 5 and 6 June 1944 and 7 May 1945 will soon be
searchable on The National Archive's website
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/. The names of nearly 600 soldiers and
officers are now available. The press release below gives the details.

If you would like further information or images please do not hesitate to
contact me.

Best wishes,

Siobhan Wakely
Press and Publicity Office
The National Archives
020 8392 5277


EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 31 MAY 2004

PRESS RELEASE
25th May 2004

D-DAY HEROES GO ONLINE

The names of up to 12,000 soldiers who were granted awards for gallantry in
North West Europe between 5 and 6 June 1944 and 7 May 1945 will soon be
searchable on The National Archive's website
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/. The names of nearly 600 soldiers and
officers are now available on The National Archives catalogue, making it
much easier for researchers to locate the recommendation they are looking
for. The National Archives hope to complete the project by May 2005 in
time for the anniversary of the end of the war.

The records contain personal details and descriptions of many incredibly
valiant acts, such as 19 year old Private Thompson who, on his first duty,
repeatedly fired at a sniper in order to let his comrades get through a
gap. He stayed behind, and then managed to guide another soldier to
safety, after the rest of his group had left.

In recommendation for a gallantry award his superior said;

'The courage, resource and initiative shown by this young soldier was a
remarkable example'

The records are available to view free at The National Archives in Kew,
West London and can also be ordered by post.

Bruno Derrick, historian at The National Archives, says:

'Soldier's gallantry recommendations are regularly consulted by people to
try to find out more about their own war service, or the war service of a
member of their family. They highlight the pinnacle of a soldier's
contribution. The files are also rich in stories of human endurance such
as an officer who, after being wounded in three places, carried on with his
men and managed to take a village and approximately 50 prisoners.

'This project will make it very quick and easy for people to obtain the
details of a gallantry award; when it was awarded, and its exact document
reference. Researchers can do this just by searching for the name in the
record series WO 373. At the moment it can be quite time consuming and you
need to know exactly what medal was awarded and when it was awarded.

'It will be a huge boost for veterans, their families and military
historians. As our catalogue becomes more detailed and more documents
become available online so it will easier be for the online generation to
get in touch with it's past.'

HOW TO LOOK FOR GALLANTRY AWARDS:

Bruno Derrick, the Project Manager, explains:
"If you are interested in finding out about someone's gallantry medals from
the Second World War, remember that so far information about 600 of the
approximately 12,000 gallantry records for North West Europe have been
loaded onto the catalogue, so you may need to try again over the next year.

'The best thing to do is to go to The National Archives' website
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ and click on the catalogue, PROCAT.
Enter the full name of the soldier and in the box for the department code
put WO 373. This stands for War Office. If they won a gallantry medal and
it has been put onto the catalogue you'll get the name of the award and a 3-
part reference, for the full record. If you want to see the full record
you can either come the archives in Kew to see it free on microfilm, or you
can order a copy through our website or over the phone. The normal cost of
this is 10.00.'

Notes to Editors:
* For press enquiries or images please contact The National Archives
Press Office on 020 8392 5277 or e-mail [log in to unmask]

* The National Archives, Kew, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk has one of the
largest archival collections in the world, spanning 1000 years of British
history, from Domesday Book to newly released government papers. The free
museum and research rooms in Kew, west London, are open to the public 6
days a week.

* PROCAT, is The National Archives' online catalogue, which is free
and gives descriptions and file reference for over 9 million records
available to the public at Kew.

* The most common award granted to soldiers between 1939 and 1945 was
the Military Medal (MM). The MM was originally introduced in 1916. Just
over 15 000 MMs were awarded during the Second World War.

* The 60th anniversary of D-Day will be celebrated at The National Archives
with a series of events where you can learn more about D-Day's heroes and
spies. Talks with original documents by military historian William Spencer
will take a look at the soldiers' experiences and explain how to find out
about the individual contributions made by British and foreign soldiers. A
costumed interpreter in the role of a soldier will give adults and children
insight into the realities of D-day and the spies who helped make it
possible.

Saturday 5 June 11.00-11.45am: Heroes of D-Day: learn more about the heroes
of D-Day through operational records and gallantry awards. 12.00-
12.45pm 'A Soldier's Tale' Costumed performance. 1.15-2.00pm: D-Day and
the Resistance Drawing on recently released SOE papers, William Spencer
will look at the activities of individuals and their relevance to 6 June
1944.

All events are free but booking is essential. For further details contact
020 8392 5202/5323

* Throughout June visitors to The National Archives will also be able to
take a behind the scenes tour and see original documents relating to D-
Day. The tour will take guests into the vaults where the nation's secrets
are kept, allow them to find out about the work of the conservation
department and learn more about Britain's biggest archive.

Tours take place every Saturday at 11am and 2pm and take approximately 2
hours.

FREE but please call 020 8876 3444 to reserve a place

* Trafalgar to Korea: 5 British Battles 1805-1951,
http://www.pro.gov.uk/pathways/battles/default.htm> is an on-line
exhibition on 'Pathways to the Past' http://www.pro.gov.uk/pathways, the
free lifelong e-learning section of The National Archives' web site. Enter
the exhibition to find the on-line D-Day 1944 gallery and follow the
British and Allied forces during Operation Overlord. Learn about the Juno
beach landings and the breakthrough from the beachheads of Normandy all
from original documents.
Pathways to the Past also offers a section which is entirely devoted to
searching your military ancestors. You will be given advice and hints on
how to trace your ancestors who served in the British forces and learn
about the records and documents that survive to the present day.

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