First World War Lives

The previously untold stories of East Riding service personnel involved in the First World War.

Choose a chapter below to explore the exhibition in more detail.

Image: Portraits of WW1 service personnel


The First World War Lives project tells the previously untold stories of East Riding service personnel involved in the First World War. Since the project's launch in 2014, on the centenary of the outbreak of the War, a team of volunteers have researched the lives of over 1,100 individuals whose photographs were published in the Green's Beverley Almanac and Beverley Guardian newspaper. These photographs show individuals of all ranks and walks of life, most of whom we previously knew little about other than their names and faces.

Image: The Green's Beverley Almanac was an annual directory listing local services and people, and included a Roll of Honour during the First World War. (East Riding Archives DDX1006/1)

Developed by our volunteers, this exhibition highlights the stories of a selection of lives looking at various topics relating to the First World War:

  • Army
  • Royal Navy
  • Royal Air Force
  • Women in War
  • Teenagers in Service
  • Stationed Around the World
  • Prisoners of War
  • Health
  • Families in Service
  • Awards and Decorations

All 1,100 plus lives have a unique reference number beginning with 'WL' which you can use to request access to their wider research file. We hope that you find this information useful and that it inspires you to pursue your own research relating to the First World War. This online exclusive exhibition, launched in March 2021, marks the conclusion of the First World War Lives project.

Please be aware: that this exhibition contains some material which readers may find upsetting.

Download a list of WW1 Lives

The following downloadable document contains a list of all the service personnel researched as part of the First World War Lives project as of February 2021. For the most up-to-date list, search the WL collection on our Archives Catalogue.

Download personnel list (PDF 1MB)

Download personnel list (Excel 63KB)

Image: Troops of the 10th (Service) Battalion (1st Hull), East Yorkshire Regiment, marching to the trenches. Near Doullens, 28th June 1916. Photographer: Lieutenant Ernest Brooks (© IWM Q 741)

What's included in the list

The list is in the form of an Excel spreadsheet that provides you access to over 1000 records listing an individual's archive reference number, rank or title, first name(s), surname, birth and death year. The list is also available as a downloadable pdf where the individuals are listed in alphabetical order by surname.

Image: Example of a research folder from the WL collection

Search the Archives Catalogue

Over 1,100 life stories of East Riding service personnel and their wider biographical research are preserved in the collection 'First World War Lives Volunteer Project' (archive reference WL), now searchable on the Archives Online Catalogue. More information on each life can be found in their file, including photographs, census information, military records, Commonwealth War Graves data, and newspaper articles.

To browse our most up-to-date list of service personnel and view extracts of their biographies, visit our Online Catalogue. Click on the 'Advanced Search' option and enter WL* in the 'FindingNo' field.

To gain access to a file, please contact the Archives team, and quote the record's WL catalogue reference.

Please note that the WL collection is growing as more lives are researched and added to the Online Catalogue. We would welcome any additional information you might be able to provide.

Browse the Archives Catalogue

Chapter 1: Army

Discover the stories of local men who served in the various units of the British Army.

Go to Chapter 1

Chapter 2: Royal Navy

Discover the stories of local men who served in the various units of the Royal Navy.

Go to Chapter 2

Chapter 3: Royal Air Force

Discover the stories of local men who served in the Royal Air Force and Royal Flying Corps.

Go to Chapter 3

Chapter 4: Women in War

Discover the stories of local women who took part in the First World War.

Go to Chapter 4

Chapter 5: Teenagers in Service

Discover the stories of local teenagers who served in the military.

Go to Chapter 5

Chapter 6: Stationed Around the World

Discover the stories of local men who served around the world in various campaigns, from Gallipoli to Salonika, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Russia, Palestine, Italy and the Caribbean.

Go to Chapter 6

Chapter 7: Prisoners of War

Discover the stories of local men who were taken as prisoners of war.

Go to Chapter 7

Chapter 8: Health

Discover the stories of a selection of local men who were affected by physical injuries and mental health problems as a result of the conflict.

Go to Chapter 8

Chapter 9: Families in Service

Discover the stories of families who were affected by multiple relatives leaving the East Riding to fight in the War.

Go to Chapter 9

Image: The Kennedy brothers of Beverley.

Chapter 10: Awards and Decorations

Discover the various medals awarded to local service personnel in the First World War.

Go to Chapter 10

Image: Example of a Victory Medal (© IWM OMD 2413)


The lives in this project have been researched using archive documents, newspapers, service records, census returns and even some contact with living relatives.

Sources at the East Riding Archives

The following documents held within the East Riding Archives and Local Studies collections have been recommended by our volunteers as being useful for researching the lives of the First World War:

  • Green's Almanac

Archive reference DDX1006/1

The annual Green's Almanacs for Beverley in 1914-1918 contain images of soldiers. A selection of these portrait photographs can be found on the East Riding Archives 'First World War Lives' Flickr album.

Visit Flickr album

  • Diaries of Arthur Ellerker Ross

October 1910 - April 1913 and May 1913 - September 1918 (archive references DDX1344/8/1, and DDX1344/8/2)

Contains mainly printed notes and orders, with some handwritten annotations. Includes telegram from the king informing the family of A E Ross's death. Ross died on 8 October 1918 at Cambrai.

  • Parish records

Collection references begin with PE

Contains baptisms, marriages and burial records covering the Archdeaconry of the East Riding. Available in original registers and microfilm at the East Riding Archives, digitised copies are available on Findmypast. Access to Findmypast is free whilst on-site at the East Riding Archives or any East Riding Library.

Visit FindMyPast

  • Newspapers

Available on microfilm at the East Riding Archives, newspapers such as the Beverley Guardian cover the First World War period. They may include photographs of serving personnel, references to letters home, casualty lists, medal awards and obituaries. Free access is also provided to the British Newspaper Archive whilst on-site at the East Riding Archives or any East Riding Library.

Visit British Newspaper Archive

  • Beverley Church Lads and Church Girls Brigade

Collection reference DDX1344

The collection includes minutes 1908-1940, annual reports 1908-1938, administrative records 1914-1968, membership rolls and cards 1908-1934, a printout of a database of members 1908-1934, photographs of groups with a list of the 1910s-1990s, photographs of named individuals organised alphabetically 1909-1990s, photographs organised by the year 1909-1978 (with gaps), photographs organised by subject 20th century, printed records 1908-2008, Old Members' Association records c.1919-1960s

  • Monumental Inscriptions

Local studies collection reference JL/152

Compiled by the East Yorkshire Family History Society, these booklets list, map and transcribe headstone inscriptions in East Yorkshire and Hull churchyards and cemeteries.

  • Barrie Barnes, 'Known unto God, Beverley and the Great War', 2013

Local studies collection reference Y/355/BEV

Includes a study of the men on the Beverley war memorial, their origins and family histories.

  • Malcolm K Mann, 'Yorkshire heroes Vol 1, Hull to Withernsea around Hornsea and back to Hull', 1996

Local studies collection reference YE/940/467

A directory of war memorials in Hull and South Holderness, including inscriptions and photographs and some background information on individuals named on the memorials. Includes surname index.

  • Malcolm K Mann, 'Yorkshire heroes Vol 2, historic East Riding town of Beverley', 1998

Local studies collection reference Y/940/467/BEV

Contains the names of Beverley men who lost their lives in battle and the memorials on which they are commemorated, with an alphabetical index, illustrations and locations.

  • Letter book, Dec 1915-Nov 1918,

Archive reference BOBE/13/1/1

Contains carbon copy 'out' letters of the Clerk to the Local Tribunal relating to exemptions from military service. Indexed.

Archives and Museums

  • The National Archives 'Discovery'

The National Archives hold a wide range of collections, sources and guides on the First World War, including the records of the War Office.

Visit The National Archives website

  • Imperial War Museums

The IWM 'collect objects and stories that give an insight into people's experiences of war, preserve them for future generations and bring them to today's audiences in the most powerful way possible', including the First World War

Visit IWM website

  • York Army Museum

The museum holds the regimental collections for all of The Royal Dragoon Guards' antecedents, and the collection of Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire for the Yorkshire Regiment.

Visit York Army Museum website

  • The Green Howards Regimental Museum

Museum of the Green Howards infantry regiment of the British Army.

Visit Green Howards website

  • Wagoners' Museum

Tells the story of the Wagoners' Special Reserve with photographs, papers, memorabilia and a medal collection. The museum is based at Sledmere House

Visit Wagoners' Museum website

Online Sources

  • East Riding Yeomanry, 1903-1918

An online exhibition by East Riding Museums exploring various topics relating to the ER Yeomanry.

Visit ER Yeomanry Exhibition

  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The CWGC casualty database is formed from records collated after each of the world wars using information from military authorities, the Graves concentration and Registration unit and the next of kin. The website relates to the burial and identification of all those who are formally designated as Commonwealth war casualties.

Visit CWGC website

  • Findmypast

Includes records of service, pensions, medals, medical records, courts-martial, deserters, soldiers' effects, war diaries etc.

Also includes digitised baptisms, marriages and burials for the Archdeaconry of the East Riding, and census records.

Access to Findmypast is free whilst on-site at the East Riding Archives, or at any East Riding Library.

Visit Findmypast

  • Ancestry

Includes records of service, pensions, medals, medical records, courts-martial, deserters, soldiers' effects, war diaries etc. Also includes census records.

Access to the Ancestry Library Edition is free whilst on-site at the East Riding Archives, or at any East Riding Library.

Visit Ancestry Library Edition

  • British Newspaper Archive

Newspapers contain not only news reports on the progress of the war, but also photographs of serving personnel, letters home, casualty lists, medal awards and obituaries. Access to the British Newspaper Archive is free whilst on-site at the East Riding Archives, or at any East Riding Library.

Visit British Newspaper Archive

  • The London Gazette

The official newspaper of the Government. Announces military awards and promotions.

Visit The London Gazette website

  • Find a Will

Includes wills from 1858 to the present day, and soldiers' wills 1850-1986.

Visit Find a Will website

  • International Committee of the Red Cross

Includes the 'Prisoners of the First World War' database.

Visit ICRR website

  • National Library of Scotland

Includes maps and plans of the First World War trenches.

Visit NLS website

  • McMaster University, Ontario, Canada

Includes maps and plans of the First World War trenches.

Visit McMaster University website

  • The Long Long Trail

Research website with many good tips for research sources.

Visit The Long Long Trail website

  • Naval History

Comprehensive website covering naval history using contemporary sources and transcriptions from collections.

Visit Naval History website

  • British Pathe

Includes a wide range of films from the First World War battlefields.

Visit British Pathe website

  • Find a Grave

Database of memorials from cemeteries.

Visit Find a Grave website

Free research guide

Download our free First World War Research Guide to discover more about what can be found in our collections:

Download free research guide (PDF 1.5MB)

'50 Lives of the First World War' Book

In this book, discover the stories of 50 local people researched by our First World War Lives project volunteers.

Price: £4.50

Where to buy:

  • Reception of East Riding Archives, at the Treasure House
  • Or you can contact the Archives team to purchase your copy.


This project would not have been possible without the efforts of our fantastic team of dedicated volunteers.

Thanks go to our volunteer team:

Di Alvey, Karen Baker, Dorothy Balmer, Cynthia Banks, Dave Blake, Peter Bonner, Sybil Clay, Steve Davis, Christine Elston, Bill Goble, Johanna Ignacio, Claire Jones, Win Knight, Vida Lenton, the late Chris Lilley, Geoff Martindale, Doreen Osuch, Anne Sherman, Mike Simpkins, Dianne Smith, Sara Stones, David White.

Why I joined the First World War Lives Project

Claire Jones

I have always attended Beverley Library due to my parent's influence. In the past, I have studied family history as well as taken out books. There have always been adverts and interesting things to do. This led me to study at Hull University doing a history degree. I, therefore, have had an extensive interest in anything historical.

I also had children and like to share historical things with them. I took my children one day to a World War I display and spotted an advert for volunteering to do World War I lives research. I have a military background myself so I thought I would find this extremely interesting. And it has been extremely interesting sometimes it would be a challenge because you would only have a small amount of information to go on about a person. Sometimes you needed to spend a lot of time looking through documents to find a piece of information, a little bit like being a detective. Once you found that interlinking piece of information it would be like opening the flood gates and the next thing you would know would be that you'd have a full file of information about this soldier. I have come across some fascinating characters and some sad stories.

I recommend that you explore the website and look at the lives that are in the archives because they are fascinating. I am proud to have been involved with this project.

Peter Bonner

When I joined this project after I retired early it was already up and running, and I was wanting to deepen my knowledge of Beverley. I had always been interested in WWI but had never had the opportunity to do so. The Project was successful for me in both these respects. I have developed a much more detailed knowledge of the war but also learnt so much about Beverley through the lives of these men.

The Project has produced a magnificent snapshot of life in Beverley in the early 20th century as well as helped people appreciate the vast sacrifices these men and their families made. This archive tells us so much about the families of Beverley and their interconnections and their lives, the schools they went to, the streets where they lived, where they shopped, worshipped and enjoyed themselves and where they worked. Being available online it will give current Beverlonians the chance to delve into this fascinating period of history.

David White

I joined the research team to support the project by learning more about our local individuals and their families, who lived, worked and in many cases, died in the First World War! In our small way, (in no more than 250 words per person), we have brought those people back to life again and left a small memento of their lives on record for future generations to read, learn and study, and to realise, what an awful experience war is for individuals and families who lived through that time!

Di Alvey

Thoughts about the project...

  • I learnt loads about Beverley - who knew we had Grade 2 listed lamp posts!
  • It's amazing how much you can research without it costing anything both by using resources lodged in Archives and accessing normally chargeable sites such as National Newspaper Archives, Find my Past and Ancestry.
  • Making new friends (despite getting told off regularly for making too much noise!).
  • Reading local newspapers on film - very easy to get sidetracked and lose the whole afternoon reading the whole newspaper (and learning how to load that machine!).
  • Discovered lovely stories such as school children collecting eggs to send to injured soldiers. Much better to see the whole paper rather than an online search for one name which would miss all the other social history.
  • Reading the original birth and marriage certificates from microfiche - again rather than a one-name online search, you suddenly discover 4 siblings were also baptised on the same day.
  • Getting around Beverley and surrounding villages to find memorials and street shrines for photos or just name-checking.

Geoff Martindale

My interest in World War 1 began when I researched my great uncle who was killed at the Battle of Bellwaarde in June 1915. My father, born in 1918, was named after him to help preserve his memory. I have been twice to the Ypres Salient where I found my great uncle's name on the Menin Gate and the site of the battle.

I have worked on the last 3 censuses and used census data in my work so when I retired in 2011 I was keen to continue researching. The opportunity to volunteer for this project was very timely and appropriate.

The 2016 ceremonies to mark 100 years since the Battle of the Somme focussed my attention on that area and I made a visit there in 2019 with the intention of finding sites I had identified during my Beverley soldiers research.

First I wanted to see Oppy Wood where the Hull Pals were in action and Jack Harrison V.C. the well-known Hull RLFC player was killed.

We then travelled to Arras where we saw Albert Constable's name on the Arras memorial.

Another of 'my' soldiers was Richard Hardman. He had led an interesting Army career attaining the rank of Sergeant Major. Particularly poignant was a note I found that said his daughter had watched him drilling troops through the railings at Victoria Barracks Beverley. We found his grave in Carnoy Cemetery which also contained the grave of Captain Wilfred Nevill of the East Yorkshire Regiment who famously gave his men a football to kick across no man's land on 1st July 1916.

Image: Volunteers in the First World War Lives Project

Image: Volunteers in the First World War Lives Project

Image: Volunteers in the First World War Lives Project

Image: Volunteers in the First World War Lives Project