We are pleased to announce a new collection of UK records on Fold3®. The UK, London Gazette WWII Military Notices 1939-1945 contains 1.3 million indexed records for service members found in the Military Notice sections or supplements of the London Gazette newspaper.
The London Gazette is Britain’s oldest continuously published newspaper. It is the authoritative source of government news and publishes notices related to elections, Royal proclamations and other declarations, appointments to public office, and more. Issues of the Gazette also include notices on military matters. This new collection consists of a searchable index of service members and the awards or mentions they received in the Gazette during the WWII years of 1939-1945. These notices include military awards or commendations, reports of people leaving service due to illness, appointments, promotions, and other military matters.
In some cases, the award notice also includes the story behind why the recipient received an award or commendation. The notices in this collection may contain information such as name, rank, regimental number, occupation, military dates of service, commendation dates, regiment, and unit. They provide clues to help unlock stories of bravery and sacrifice. One example is Ordinary Seaman Bennett Southwell, who served in the Royal Navy.
On October 7, 1940, during the London Blitz, Southwell served in the Land Mine Disposal Section. That day he and Sub Lieutenant Jack Easton arrived on the scene of an incident in East London. A bomb containing 1500 pounds of explosives had crashed through the roof of a house but failed to detonate. The parachute bomb was dangling by its lines, with the chute canopy partly wrapped around the chimney. The two men could see that the fuse was damaged, and they would need to attempt to deactivate the bomb in place. They evacuated the surrounding area, and the men went to work. Suddenly, the bomb shifted and began ticking. Southwell and Easton ran. They only had 12 seconds until detonation. The bomb exploded with such a terrific force that it destroyed 12 streets. Miraculously, Easton was dug out of the rubble alive, albeit with severe injuries, including a fractured skull, pelvis, and two broken legs. Southwell, 22, was not so fortunate. He died in the blast. On January 23, 1941, the Gazette announced that Southwell would receive the George Cross. King George VI presented the award to Bennett’s widow at Buckingham Palace in October 1941.
To explore this collection, you can search by a service member’s name or browse the records by year and month. The individual information found within the notices provides a jumping-off point for further research.
Start searching this new collection of military notices from the London Gazette today on Fold3®.