Homefront hardship is shown online

An insight into life on the homefront in the First World War is being offered by a forces’ charity.

The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) has published its records for 1914 in a free online archive.

It shows that in 1914 alone the Northumberland branch helped 7,885 wives, 18,372 children and 2,322 other relatives of serving forces’ personnel, giving £23,839 in aid.

And across the UK and the British Empire SSAFA mobilised some 50,000 volunteers to help more than a million people in 1914.

The archive reveals the hardship faced by families at the time. Every town is listed, with the number of people helped, the types of cases and the organisations and benefactors involved.

SSAFA Digital Communication Manager Lydia Horstman said: “This resource has taken these unique reports out of the archive and made them accessible to new audiences, including local historians and World War I 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.

“We wanted to get people talking about the Flag Book so we’ve made sure that every page can be shared on social media or by email. It’s been great to see all the tweets and posts about what people have found in our reports.”

SSAFA provides life-long support to anyone who is serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families. Last year the charity had 147 cases in Northumberland.

The records are available at www.ssafa.org.uk/ww1