Military charity’s records from 1914 now to hand online

SSAFA, the only military charity working on the home front across the UK at the start of the First World War and still operational locally through its Northumberland branch today, has helped to bring history to life with its online records from 1914.

The digitalised records reveal SSAFA’s extraordinary achievement, mobilising some 50,000 volunteers across the UK and Empire and assisting more than one million people in 1914 alone.

Every town is listed with the number of people helped, the types of cases, and the organisations and individual benefactors.

In 1914, the SSAFA Northumberland Branch alone assisted 7,885 wives, 18,372 children and 2,322 other relatives giving £23,839 in aid.

This compares with a total of 147 cases and visits for SSAFA last year throughout the county.

People from around the country have been taking advantage of this free and easy resource, which instantly transports users back in time and helps them to learn about the impact of the conflict on the home front and the hardships it imposed on the wives and children of soldiers who went off to war.

Lydia Horstman, SSAFA’s digital communication manager, said: “This resource has taken these unique reports out of the archive and made them accessible to new audiences, including local historians and First World War experts.

“By digitising the SSAFA 1914 Flag Book, people can also explore the reports in a new way.

“Before it took a long time to search the index, now it’s simple to search for information about a local place, a family member or notable people who were connected to SSAFA at the time.

The records are held on an online searchable database at www.ssafa.org.uk/ww1 and are free to access.