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Wills from First World War now available online

The handwritten wills of thousands of soldiers who died during the First World War, which are stored in a secure facility on the outskirts of Birmingham, are being made available to view online.

John Apthorpe, commercial director of Iron Mountain Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Archivists at specialist record management company, Iron Mountain, spent five months indexing and scanning the wills before putting them online.

In total, the facility houses 41 million wills and probate records dating from 1858.

The work undertaken under contract from Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), means families and historians will now be able to view the previously unseen 230,000 wills of British Empire Soldiers on a new website, for the first time.

Some of the wills that are now available to view online Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

About 5% of the wills contain a treasure trove of personal letters penned by the soldiers and intended for loved ones back home but which were never posted.

Instead, those letters have lain alongside the writers' wills in row upon row of sealed archive boxes for 100 years, until now.

  1. Calendar

MP joins fight to bring Richard of York home

The MP for Skipton and Ripon is supporting calls for the remains of King Richard III to be returned and re-interred in North Yorkshire.

Julian Smith claims that before his death in 1485 Richard of York said he wanted to be buried at York Minster.

It has been repeated through the centuries that his wish was to be buried in York and, now his remains have been discovered, his wish should be granted.

– Julian Smith MP, Con Skipton and Ripon

Mr Smith continued: “No-one wants another war over this. We should thank Leicester for discovering his remains but they should now be returned to North Yorkshire for the proper burial he deserves in the place he wanted to be remembered.

“I will now be writing to the University of Leicester and Ministry of Justice, who granted the licence for the exhumation, to make this case.”

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Museums manager: People feared body-snatchers

Jane Hanney, the Museum Services Manager:

"It [the mortsafe] doesn't just tell us that people were fearful, but that people were actually doing something about it... that they were actually trying to protect the bodies of their loved ones and the people within their community so that they wouldn't be removed for medical purposes."

– Jane Hanney

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  1. Anglia

Northamptonshire human remains are 'historic'

Human remains discovered at a building in Northamptonshire are historic, archaeologists have confirmed.

The remains of three people - a child aged around 2, a woman older than 45 and a man aged between 35 and 45, were found at a site in Middleton Cheney, near Banbury, in December.

Remains Credit: Northamptonshire Police

Archaeologists believe they date from somewhere between the Roman and post-mediaeval period, Northamptonshire Police said.

All three remains were in a single grave which was positioned in a manner that is consistent with a Christian-style burial.

The bones are historic Credit: Northamptonshire Police

Detective Sergeant Sean Arbuthnot said: "All of the initial indications were that the remains had been at the site for a lengthy period of time and the results we have had from the archaeologists confirm this.

We are still waiting for further results from carbon-dating which may give a more precise indication on the age of the remains, but we are satisfied that they are historic and there is no requirement for any further investigation from us.

Carbon-dating is still taking place Credit: Northamptonshire Police

We will now be contacting the county Historic Environment Record to inform them of the discovery."

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