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Changes to Lives of the First World War - site to close!

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Just appeared a few hours ago in my inbox:

Lives of the First World war


We want to let you know about changes to Lives of the First World War

One month to go

The Lives of the First World War website will be closed from 12.01am on Tuesday 19 March 2019.

We will not be able to accept any further contributions of material after this time. We encourage you to read our FAQs for further details. All Lives of the First World War URLs will be redirected temporarily to a holding page, until we launch the permanent digital memorial on iwm.org.uk in June 2019. 

Stay in touch and keep informed on our Twitter and Facebook channels.


Last chance: Support Forum

To allow the Lives of the First World War team time to process your requests before the site closes, we will be closing the Support Forum on the following dates:

  • Requests for merges will be accepted until 5.00pm on Monday 11 March 2019
  • Requests for creating new stories will be accepted until 5.00pm on Friday 15 March 2019
  • Questions or comments in the Feedback and Discussion forum will be monitored until 5.00pm on Friday 15 March 2019



Make your contribution today

Here are five ways of adding to Lives of the First World War over the next month:

  • Remember a Life Story
  • Add facts about an individual’s life, such as family, civilian and military experiences
  • Scan and upload images of photographs, documents and artefacts
  • Share anecdotes that have been passed down through the family
  • Update Communities that you have started *
*Please note that Communities that have fewer than 2 stories in them after 18 March 2019, will be deleted.

 my emphasis

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Yes, it will close, but it will reappear on a new domain in June 2019.

The communities have potential to be "glue", and they can connect related people. This is potentially a good thing.

The bad thing is when communities are created, and nothing meaningful is done with them. There is a user who creates single person communities. He then creates further communities with the same name, in some cases, and has done this nearly a thousand times! Here is a link to one of his communities


Personally speaking, I have not seen any of his communities and thought "This is adding value". He does seem to have added more than one person to a number of his communities, in order to get around this ruling, though. Below is one such example

I get the following perception of some prior users of Lives of the First World War. It is as though they know that Great, Great Uncle Fred was in the 3rd Foot and Mouth, so, with the best intentions, they set up a community to find everyone else in the battalion. They have a perception that the database is prepopulated, and every man's record has been completed ad nauseum. It is a "simple" case of doing a quick search, grouping the results in one community, and hey presto! It then becomes clear that the "empty" database has been provided, with the hope that this empty container will be crowdsourced. If they are lucky, they may find out a bit more about Great, Great Uncle Fred in the remaining 13 days of their trial period, but they won't be signing up for a rolling subscription to research the rest of the men of the battalion.

The zero member communities seem to be a memorial to good intentions. I would imagine it is a similar case for some single person communities, where Great, Great Uncle Fred is the only person.

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The decree nisi occurred in 2017 when "irreconcilable differences" between FindMyPast and IWM meant that the writing was on the wall for "Lives of the First Word War". Whilst there had been hopes that it could have been kept going for the foreseeable future - like the GRO trial of ordering £6 PDF files which is ongoing - circumstances were not favourable to this, and thus the originally announced end date in March 2019 will soon be upon us.

I would imagine that FMP paid for the domain up to this date (Tuesday 19 March 2019) when the project started, with the option to extend.


Given that IWM will be resurrecting the site, this should be taken as not a reason to down tools, but to try and add as much as you can before the cut-off. The recent indications are that the searching on the new platform will be better than the existing searching which is very limited and seems to follow a Geneva Convention of unit, name (case-insensitive) and number (case-sensitive). I am looking forward to this happening in June, but I am also aware that I have a list of sailors to work through, whose details need keying in to Lives of the First World War.

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For the sake of completeness, I thought it advisable to respond to this. LOTFWW is no longer dynamic, that is to say "update-able". Some of the static data has been migrated to a new website known as the "Permanent Digital Memorial" or PDM for short. Several functions have been emulated by the new platform, and several have not. The successor platform appears to have been concluded at the end of September, but some improvements did get made in November and December 2019.

A debate has been started by forum user Matlock1418, and can be viewed here, if you are a GWF forum member. The title is self-explanatory, 'seeking ways to help improve the IWM Permanent Digital Memorial'

Comments have been made by persons who feel that the PDM could be improved, which in general covers either the missing data that is not in the public domain, or by functionality enhancements. 

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