Online memorials unlock stories of First World War ANZACs

Coffee stall on the Western Front in 1916.

The individual wartime journeys of over 330,000 Australian men and women who volunteered to serve overseas in the First World War have been revealed for the first time in an ambitious family history project.

Australian War Stories by Memories enables descendants to search for a loved one at and receive a free online memorial of their wartime journey, from enlistment, to training, embarkation and beyond.

The memorials are delivered via a link sent free-of-charge by email and mobile text. They can be shared among extended family and posted to social media.

An estimated 5 million Australians have a relative who served overseas during the First World War. Many more will wish to honour a local ANZAC hero by registering their details to receive and share an online memorial.

Australian War Stories is a collaboration between leading family memorial platform and media services company Mediality.

Memories chief executive officer Tom Ainsworth said, “The heart of Australian War Stories is the commemoration of this extraordinary generation and the creation of a permanent memorial for each of them.

“Every descendant of a First World War veteran can now very easily open the window on that special part of their family history.”

Each memorial contains historically-accurate details of the veterans’ enlistment, embarkation and military unit.

Mediality chief executive officer Bruce Davidson said the core tenet in creating the 330,000 stories was respect for the legacy of the first ANZACs.

“It is, quite rightly, a revered part of our nation’s history and with that comes a responsibility in telling the stories of these men and women,” Mr Davidson said.

“We have drawn on official military records and histories to anchor these stories in fact. This is a critical foundation of Australian War Stories.

“We then bring the individual stories to life in a way which I believe will be a revelation to descendants and, indeed, all Australians.”

Australian War Stories was launched in the lead up to Anzac Day, which after two years of Covid-imposed restrictions, resumed most of its traditions.

“Anzac Day is a time when many families pause to reflect on the service and sacrifice of their loved ones, and the Anzac spirit of mateship, courage and resilience,” Mr Ainsworth said.

“The Australian War Stories memorials add a new dimension for the nation to honour our veterans.”