Findmypast.co.uk’s Merchant Navy Archives Reveal Photos of UK’s Forgotten ‘Fourth Service’
LONDON, September 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –
Findmypast.co.uk has announced one million 20th century Merchant Navy
Seamen records are now online for the first time ever.
The launch saw records of crew members of UK merchant ships from 1918 to
1941 made available online, including rarely seen photos of the mariners.
This is the first time that many relatives will be able to see what their
seafaring ancestor looked like and also learn more about the people who made
up Churchill’s ‘fourth service’.
However, when asked what the Merchant Navy was, 54% of the British
population couldn’t answer correctly, even though almost 90% have heard of
them. This is a sad fact considering the Merchant Navy was integral to
putting Britain on the trade and industry world map and were named by
Churchill as Britain’s ‘fourth service’.
The navy records
[http://www.findmypast.co.uk/search/merchant-navy-seamen ] provide
fascinating details about each individual mariner. The most complete records
have extremely detailed descriptions, including hair and eye colour, height,
and distinguishing marks such as tattoos.
The shocking gap in Britain’s general knowledge is highest amongst the
younger generation – just 26% of those aged under 35 know what the Merchant
Navy is, compared to a wiser 64% of over 55s. Many will therefore be
surprised to learn that the Merchant Navy consists of all seagoing UK
vessels with commercial interests and their crews.
So it may be a shock to many that at various points in the last
millennium, Britain had the largest merchant fleet in the world. The
workforce on these vessels was a casual, ‘jobbing workforce’ so in any one
year as many as 1.5 million people could be employed in the Merchant Navy,
meaning many people are likely to find ancestors in these records.
Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk, commented: “This
is the first time the UK Merchant Navy Seamen records, with their
fascinating images of the mariners, have been made available online. Many
people aren’t sure what the Merchant Navy is, even though a large proportion
of the UK population will have Merchant Navy seamen in their ancestry.
Hopefully these records will help fill the gaps and people will enjoy
learning about what life was like for the brave, seafaring merchants who
helped the island nation of Britain prosper.”
The Merchant Navy Seamen records are the only set of their kind
available online and have been published in association with The National
Archives. The military records
show that the seamen who made up the Merchant Navy not only came from the
UK, but from every continent, with large numbers from across the
English-speaking world (notably the Maritime provinces of Canada), from the
West Indies and Sierra Leone, and from Scandinavia, Somaliland, China and
Japan. There are even some seamen from landlocked Switzerland.
Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk (formerly
1837online.com) was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage
and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003.
Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million
images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and
fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been
available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The
launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in
genealogy seen in the UK today.
Findmypast.co.uk has subsequently digitised many more family history
records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back
as 1200 and including details from the 1901 Census
. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to find out more
about their ancestry [http://www.findmypast.co.uk ] among comprehensive
collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories,
and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive
birth, marriage and death records.
PR Contact: Lauren Hunt-Morgan Lansons Communications 24a St John Street London EC1M 4AY +44(0)207-566-9729 http://www.findmypast.co.uk