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Members' research

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Ron Dinsdale

World War One Casualties

The project goal is to tabulate military and civilian casualties by date and nation from July 1914 to the end of conflict between all belligerents.
As the world focuses on the Centennial, we have a unique opportunity to gather in one repository as much statistical information as possible on casualties of all nations, building a record day by day and battle by battle. While exact numbers will be impossible to determine, the object is to tabulate casualties to the highest level of accuracy possible, in a format suitable for the target communities which are -
The online community: A web site is being developed to show actual and cumulative casualty statistics by nation on the centennial of each day of the War. Viewers will be able to contribute knowledge and opinions through a blog page. Opportunities to participate in building the data base will be given to the widest possible audience, from a French schoolgirl who wants to transcribe the names of civilians etched on her village cenotaph, to historians who wish to share their knowledge or even debate the definition of “casualty’’.
Print media: National newspapers are being approached to carry regular columns with as much information as each may desire in a factual, unbiased way without editorial comment.
The academic community: It is intended to draw academic interest and contributions as this five-year project unfolds.
The benefits of the Project will accrue to (1) peoples of all nations who will more fully comprehend and reflect on the tragedy of war, as they see the number of casualties build relentlessly to the climax of the Armistice and beyond, and (2) the academic community which by 2019 will have at its disposal a single credible data base of accurate and “best estimate” statistics, which future researchers can develop and refine. The quantification of these daily casualty numbers, in itself, falls short of academic pursuit both in subject matter and time available. But tabulating more accurately how those numbers accumulated at each stage of the War may bring a new dimension to studies of community-related, psychological, political and other issues.
My wife Denise Roussel and I are leading the project. We cannot expect to attract a team of researchers dedicated to the project for its 5-year duration. The intent is to acquire as much information as possible through the internet, and periodically seek expert and other assistance for specialized tasks. An example of expert assistance is the generous involvement of James Offer, creator of, who will periodically help graph the statistics. An example of more general but vital assistance is the aforementioned French schoolgirl and hundreds like her.
The project is not-for-profit. The web site (not yet live) is intended to be educational and without advertising or pop-ups, though may include a sponsor page if we have to seek funding.
We are currently tabulating figures from the CWGC and Memoires des Hommes web sites. Copies of the original daily German military records (except Feb-Nov 1917) and monthly graphs are at hand, but we have asked our Volksbund contact if access to its online data base might be made available by date of death only. From Churchill and other sources we have monthly figures of several belligerents, but we need to drill down to daily or weekly figures, especially for Russia. We are in various stages of following other leads. France and Belgium are running centennial projects for civilian casualties, which we plan to explore. US numbers are readily available.
The project is encouraged by several prominent historians, and we have the interest of ISFWWS members already contacted individually. We invite all members to contribute their knowledge of statistical resources and their ideas.

Ron Dinsdale: