Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Italian Database of WWI Fallen Military

This past weekend I decided to do some online research and see if I could find any information on military personnel who died during WWI.  I was particularly interested in WWI because my grandmother's oldest brother died serving his country.  The story told was that he drowned in the high seas while attempting to save his friend. 

I found a database that included my grandmother's brother.  Here is how to use it.  Go to http://www.cadutigrandeguerra.it/Default.aspx...


Scroll the site pages until you find the region of interest.  In my case, I wanted a list for Sicily.

Once you find the region, look for the province you want.  In my case, I wanted Catania or CT.

When I clicked on the Sicily link I liked (the one with CT), it opened up a sub-section with letters.  I clicked on "N" since my grand-uncle's last name was Napoli.  The page expands again to show me names.  At the top one can see Napoli Antonino (surnames usually come first on official documents in Italy).  This does not mean there is only one "Napoli" listed; he is the first one listed.  Click on "Mostra la Pagina" (show the page) and a JPEG of a digitized document of fallen soldiers will open (see below).

 4) Magnified area showing my grand-uncle, Giuseppe Napoli.

The record is translated as follows: Napoli Giuseppe of Pietro (father) -- Gunner (scelto -- chosen, but probably means "special") C.R.E.M. -- stands for Corpi Reali Equipaggi Marrittimi, a special naval corp of officers (mostly lower-ranked officers) -- born the 11th of February, 1897, in Catania, Port Authority of Catania, lost on March 18, 1918, subsequent to sinking of ship.

This was a great find!  My next goal is to discover which ship was sunk and how.  During WWI ships were sunk by torpedoes or mines.  I also wonder if there were any survivors.  Since the story is he drowned trying to save someone, I assume there must have been a witness (or more) who survived the ordeal. 

My grandmother used to say that her mother, my great-grandmother Ciccia (Francesca), always kept a portrait of her son above a mantle with a lit candle and a vase filled with flowers.  How hard it must have been to lose her first child to the Great War.


  1. Thanks for this! I just found my great-grandmother's brother in this database!

  2. Awesome! So glad my post helped someone else.