A visit to The National Archives was always on the project’s to-do list, because it’s an incredibly interesting place and its rich resources could allow us to research and learn more about the UK Armenian soldiers participation in the World War One.
Several of the project volunteers kindly decided to spend the part of their weekend digging through military records instead of enjoying the warm October sunshine. So after a prolonged catch up at the entrance and admiring the imposing brutalist structure of the building, we finally went in, armed with pencils, sandwiches and patience (no pens allowed!). While the archives allowed us to research a vast number of documents, see the digital copies, go through the medal index, check ancestry.com, etc – it took us some time to master the art of finding the right information. A few productive hours followed, when we discovered some interesting leads – including information about an interpreter named M. Abdullah, which is clearly not an Armenian name, but Helen and Vartouhie reckon the word ‘Armenian’ on his records might indicate not his nationality but the knowledge of the language.
There was also much confusion when we tried to search for John Arabian’s details as lots of information about Arabian Peninsula appeared in the search results. Although Jack was successful in finding his naturalisation records from 1907 in the end.
There was an opportunity to share impressions and findings afterward in the cafe and discuss the next steps. It was great to hear that everyone enjoyed their visit and were already planning the next one – here is the team just before going in!