21 March 2012

Improved search engines for cwgc.org and Ottawa's first WW1 fatality

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was a pioneer in placing their data online, but over the years the search capability fell behind.
The formatting of the search box was updated over the years from this basic 1999 version but the functionality remained. The limitation to initial(s), not full first name(s), was particularly frustrating, and stayed that way until recently.

Now there's a fully functional search capability, including a key word search for any word in the database.
I tested it by searching for Ottawa which would appear in the Additional Information field, then sorted to find the first Ottawa fatality.
Alexander Campbell died on the 19th of October 1914 and is buried at Beechwood Cemetery. There was a grave reference so I took advantage of fine weather to search out the grave.

The CWGC headstone to the left is dwarfed by the family stone which includes the information that he was Capt Alexander Campbell BSc, and that his wife was Ellen Margaret Living who died in 1923. His Ontario death certificate gives the cause of death as cerebrial haemorrhage.
There is an informative three paragraph obit in the Ottawa Citizen. He never got further east than Valcartier returning home when he fell ill.
On the side of the stone is an inscription that Norman Gordon Campbell (1892-1917) was killed in France. His CWGC record gives only initials, N. G. and provides no additional information. Not all Ottawans who died will be found by searching Ottawa in the CWGC files.

Maybe you noticed the plural in the title .. search engines.

Via Rootsweb's GENBRIT list, for WW2 "Geoff's (Wonderful) Search Engine" at http://www.hut-six.co.uk/cgi-bin/search39-47.php provides additional capabilities.

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