Lives of the First World War

I have arrived late to the Imperial War Museum’s Centenary Project but hope to contribute the information I have on Filey People represented in the database before closure sometime next year. (All contributions will then be incorporated into the IWM digital archive and be accessible for, I guess, as long as there is an Open Internet.)

There are over 7 million records waiting for information that will fill gaps in our collective knowledge of those who lived through the “Great War”.

Many soldiers, sailors, and airmen can only be identified by the most basic information extracted by the Museum from their service records but, for the first time, I have some chance of learning what my grand-daddy did in that war. He won’t be easy to find. There seem to be over sixty soldiers called William LOCKETT who returned from the conflict – so there are no names and addresses of bereaved parents or spouses.

All I knew as a child about my granddad’s soldiering was that he had a rifle – his bayonet was given to me after he died! All I have now is one photograph of him in uniform, taken in Barkshire Brothers Studio in Southsea. Glare off his cap badge and “unreadable” shoulder insignia render regiment identification impossible. There is a date clue of sorts. Bill seems to have suffered facial wounds. The scars are not prominent enough to see clearly in the photograph but, if they are real, perhaps he was returning to the Western Front after recovering in Blighty.


Bill came home with all his appendages but lost three fingers in a machine at his place of work. What was left of his hand fascinated me as a child. I only knew him to be a sick man, propped up in a bed in the living room, reading Tit-Bits. He would pass the magazines on to me to devour. Grandma was about sixty when I arrived on the scene and when I first became aware of her she was almost as wide as she was tall. This photo is such a wonder. I spent a lot of time with Ruth Anna. She taught me how to play gin rummy and once – and only once – gave me tripe for dinner.

If you haven’t visited Lives yet, head over there soon. Your Ancestors Need You! (There is already a St Oswald’s Community, awaiting Filonian contributions.)

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