More than 300,000 First World War records are being released by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to show how Britain came to commemorate its war dead.

The commission, founded in 1917, is releasing some of its original documents online for the first time today as it launches two new resources designed to help the public get a better understanding of those who lost their lives in service during the war.

The unveiling of its recently-completed online archives, as well as a brand new Discover 14-18 microsite, are intended to make finding and visiting memorial sites of relatives and loved ones killed in the war easier than ever before.

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The commission is responsible for marking and caring for the graves and memorials of over 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead from the two world wars, and in the run-up to the centenary of the First World War in August this year, it has undertaken a five-year project to scan more than 300,000 documents relating to those who died in service and upload them to its website. They will be available for the public to view for the first time from today.

The documents will give an insight into the process of commemoration undertaken by the Army and the CWGC after the Great War, and include details of personal headstone inscriptions, date of death, rank, regiment and even some documents which show the journey of the dead to their final resting place.

The online documents include registers of the people the commission is responsible for commemorating.

Registers were produced by the commission on a cemetery-by-cemetery or memorial-by-memorial basis, and eventually ran to 1,500 volumes.