A POIGNANT letter about a Scots soldier who died in the First World War is among the service records and correspondence of more than 12,000 members of the Household Cavalry across two centuries to be put online from today.

William Crawford, of Inverkip, near Greenock, died aged 24 on February 5, 1918, a few days after being wounded. He had left Southampton with the Household Battalion for France the previous October.

His record can now be downloaded from the National Archive. The documents lists only his uncle as next of kin, but includes a fascinating letter from his uncle saying that at the age of five or six, William had been deserted by his father, while his mother died some time before that.

Loading article content

The uncle says he "was the only father and friend he (William) really ever had" and asked for his medals and awards, along with his personal effects, to be presented to King George V in his memory.

The personal effects sent to the War Office included correspondence from a woman called Hetty who had sent Mr Crawford a number of letters and a birthday card.

Information on the online archive about the Household Cavalry spans from 1799 to 1920 and provides details of servicemen who fought in some of the British Empire's biggest battles and wars, including the Battle of Waterloo and the Boer War.

A new digital platform, First World War 100, has also been created to guide people through the collection of historic records, letters, wills, maps, photographs, illustrations and artworks held by the National Archives.