Thursday, June 14, 2012

GWR Casualties

At the outbreak of war in 1914 the Great Western Railway employed about 80,000; 25,479 men enlisted in the services with 2,436 losing their lives by the end of the four year massacre.

Throughout the war the Great Western Railway Magazine published details and photographs of the men who had lost their lives, which are now available to view on the Swindon Local Studies flickr page

Inspired by this project, family historian Ruth Wood decided to launch her own.  “It just came to me that it would be so helpful to others, like me, researching their family history, if they could do a keyword/surname search for their GWR relative,” Ruth said.

Now living in Durham, Ruth grew up in a Swindon ‘railway,’ family with several generations of engine drivers, boiler makers, electricians and engineers; her brother was one of the last intakes of apprentices at the Swindon Works.

Liaising with staff at Swindon Central Library, Ruth launched her own project on flickr and has so far uploaded more than 2,000 images.

I also add each soldier with his details, on to an access database which people can request a free copy of as well or instead of looking at the flickr site,” said Ruth, who describe the GWR Casualties project as a labour of love.

“There are many lists of soldiers in the magazine without photos so they have not been included on the library's flickr page as that is ostensibly a photo site. The next part of the project is to add all of those on the lists to the database. I will also add them to the flickr site with a picture of a poppy and their details. It means that people can still search for their relatives on the flickr site and if they do find their details, they can send me a photo of their relative if they have one, plus any other details they may wish to add.”

Ruth has met with the archivist at the National Railway Museum in York where she deposited a copy of her GWR Casualties database.  The Imperial War Museum in London has added a link to the site and Ruth hopes that STEAM Museum in Swindon will soon do the same.

If you have a GWR ancestor who served in World War One visit the GWR Casualties project on

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