First World War will's link to Fleetwood Mac
The last wishes of a First World War hero and grandfather of a Cornish rock star are among thousands of documents unearthed by archivists that are being made available online.
A will belonging to John Fleetwood, the grandfather of rock band Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood, who was born in Redruth, reveals his death from dysentery in a hospital in Malta on December 30, 1915, after serving in Gallipoli.
That document was discovered by leading British historian Jon Cooksey who was given access to the new database before the website launch on Wednesday.
The documents are among thousands of archives unseen for a century which are being made available online. The wills of 230,000 British Empire soldiers written in their own hand have been placed on a new website allowing families and historians to view them for the first time.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify 01209 860332 and present voucher on arrival
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Sunday, December 15 2013
About 5% of the wills contain a treasure trove of personal letters penned by the soldiers and intended for loved ones back home but which were never posted.
Instead, those letters have lain alongside the writers' wills in row upon row of sealed archive boxes for 100 years, until now.
Mr Cooksey praised the value of the archive, and the discovery of John Fleetwood's documents, and said: "What this does is help us, as historians, piece together the mosaic of facts which give us the real men."
The wills are held in a secure facility run by the company on the outskirts of Birmingham, while the digital copies are stored in a data centre in Milton Keynes.
In total, the facility houses 41 million wills and probate records dating from 1858.
All the hard copies are carefully stored in pH neutral boxes in sealed climate-controlled and fire-proof rooms where the records should survive "in perpetuity" according to storage firm Iron Mountain.
John Apthorpe, the firm's commercial director, said: "With 230,000 individuals who died in the war, the emotions [that come through] are quite interesting when you read some of the notes they left.
"A lot have straightforward statements, but some of them do have personal letters and touches, and a bit more detail about what's happening."
The wills were only previously accessible through direct requests. What makes them interesting to historians and genealogists is the fact they have been written by the soldiers, rather than officials, as in the case of census data or birth records.
The archive can be accessed at www.gov.uk/probate-search