Creating new histories

This is probably our last chance to capture the almost forgotten experiences of both the soldiers who fought across the globe and those they left behind – the wives, mothers and others who waited anxiously for their loved ones to return.

We also want to understand better the experiences of non-Sikh soldiers who fought alongside Sikhs. This could include British officers of the Indian Army or Muslim and Hindu soldiers and officers recruited into regiments alongside Sikhs. Also crucial to our understanding of the war are the experiences of Sikh freedom fighters who risked their lives to oppose the war.

By working together with the public we will collect, create and share these new histories.

Calling all Citizen Historians

But to do this we need your help. We want to recruit at least 1000 Citizen Historians from all backgrounds to put Sikh (and other) soldiers 'on the map'.

Your aim as a Citizen Historian is to discover, record and share their stories. We know there are lots of families that have stories to tell, and lots of people who want to learn more about the lives of those ordinary people who were thrust into some of the most extraordinary situations in modern times. We want to know who they were, and we will help you research their story.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of Citizen Historian:

  • My Family Hero

    You may know of a family member (eg father, uncle, grandfather or great-grandfather) who was involved in the war.

    You may have photographs, medals and letters preserved in your family’s collection.

    If so, you have the opportunity to make your WW1 ancestor a part of history by doing either of the following:

    • 'adopting' their record if it already appears on the Soldier Map

    • creating a new record to add to the Soldier Map

  • Adopt a Hero

    If you do not have a member of your family who was involved in the war but are still keen to learn more about a particular individual who appears on the Soldier Map (maybe because you share an ancestral village or first name), you can 'adopt' their record.

    You can then carry out further research and add what you discover to their online record.

We also want to hear from you if your forebear fought alongside the Sikhs, maybe as British officer in a Sikh regiment. Equally important are those whose Sikh ancestors opposed the war and joined the freedom movement, risking imprisonment as a result.

Your chance to create a lasting legacy

In all cases we want to ensure that every record is as rich as possible.

So please do share images with the project, eg photographs of them and their family, and any personal objects and artefacts such as medals, letters and service records.

We would also like to know what happened to families during and after the war.

You have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the project whether you are Sikh or non-Sikh, a beginner or experienced researcher.

Soldier Map Overview

The Soldier Map is an innovative interactive tool that gives you to access to the records held in our database.

These provide details of Sikh soldiers who fought in World War One and the families they left behind.

The vast majority of these records are from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s casualty database, which lists the names and place of commemoration of the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars.

In order to tell a more complete story, we are also interested in adding records relating to non-Sikhs who served alongside Sikhs in all battlefronts, and Sikh freedom fighters who risked their own lives to oppose the war.

  • Like other Google Earth maps you can navigate around the Soldier Map simply by clicking and dragging it.

    You can also zoom in to view a single village or zoom out to see the entire region of Punjab (which today straddles Pakistan and India).

    If you want to find a particular location (eg your ancestral village), just type the name in the search field located in the top-left corner of the map.

  • Soldier Records & icons

    On the Soldier Map each one of these turban badge icons icon-mapMarker represents an individual record, or ‘Soldier Record’.

    Each one of these Soldier Records has quite literally been pinned on the map at a particular location, which is normally their place of birth. This could be a village, town or city depending on what was documented in official records.

    If the place of birth is not known, the record will appear at the location of India Gate in New Delhi, which is the British-built memorial to India’s fallen soldiers who died in the period 1914 to 1921.

    Clicking on one of the turban badge icons (which is based on the distinctive badge of the 45th (Rattray's) Sikh Infantry) calls up the Soldier Record and will include most of the following details:

    • name
    • place of birth
    • service number
    • rank
    • regiment

    Details of when and where they died, which country they served in, next of kin and awards received may also appear in a Soldier Record.

  • Adopting and creating records

    Any Soldier Record that appears on the map can be ‘adopted’.

    You may want to do this because you recognise the individual as your ancestor, or maybe you share an ancestral village.

    By clicking the Adopt Record button you will begin the Citizen Historian sign-up procedure (see below). Once completed you will be able to add more information to the Soldier Record, such as your research findings and images.

    If you find that you cannot find a particular individual on the Soldier Map, you can create a new Soldier Record for them to our database and on the map. Simply press the Create Record button when in the filter view (see below) to start the Citizen Historian sign-up procedure. By following the instructions you can add your soldier to the Soldier Map.

  • Soldier stories

    A Soldier Record may include a link to a story page about a particular individual created to highlight the combined discoveries made by Citizen Historians and the EFW Team about their life.

    This may include an image gallery and facts and reminiscences about their life before, during and after the war.

  • Images and media files

    The header image in the Soldier Records is pre-loaded with a graphic of a turbaned soldier.

    This will be replaced with an actual portrait of the soldier if one is available as a photograph or painting. Alternatively, an image of an object relating to the soldier can also be used as their ‘signature’ image.

    All images (and any other media files, eg video and audio) must be emailed to us but only after you signed up as a Citizen Historian. Guidance on how to send us your image files can be found here under the heading Sharing your images with the project.

  • Search filters

    Filters are available to help you search for a particular soldier or group of soldiers.

    Click on this symbol icon-filter next to the search field and you will have the option of filtering the database by name, service number, country served in, and regiment.

  • Soldier number

    In the Soldier Record you will see a unique reference number (eg EFW-1234) underneath the soldier's name.

    This is their Soldier Number and it helps us to identify where their record is in our database. When you sign up as a Citizen Historian, and you either adopt an existing record or create a new one, you should make a note of the Soldier Number.

  • Signing-up as a Citizen Historian

    To adopt a soldier’s record or create a new one you first need to sign-up as a Citizen Historian.

    After completing the sign-up procedure (which involves email validation), you will be asked to complete the Soldier Form (see below).

  • Soldier Form

    This simple online form gives you the opportunity to shape a Soldier Record.

    You can use this form to tell us everything you know about your Sikh soldier and the family they left behind during the Great War.

    It can also be used to tell us about the experiences of non-Sikh soldiers who fought alongside Sikhs (eg British officers in a Sikh regiment of the Indian Army) or Sikh freedom fighters who opposed the war.

    Once submitted, we will check the information you have supplied, either amend an existing or create a new Soldier Record in our database, and then publish it on the Soldier Map for you to see and share with others.

    You also have the option of coming back to make further changes at a later stage, but in order to do so you need to keep safe the email containing the link to the Soldier Record.

  • Social media

    Click on this icon icon-share to spread the word with your friends, family and colleagues.

  • Further help

    To help you get off to a great start in your efforts to creating a full a record of an individual’s life as possible, you may want to take a look at our Helpful Guides.

    You can also find information in the FAQs section.

    If you can’t find what you’re looking for then please contact us.