This is just the most enormous problem. If you are researching just one or two individuals finding almost anything is like looking for a needle in a haystack. What I am trying to do is to to cover the Royal Berks from c1800 to 1920 and men from Berkshire 1914-1920. This gives me the ability to answer queries from all over the world because I can quote all the references that I have come across and indexed. It takes an enormous effort to import lists into a database and then identify the man concerned. Sorry I cant do the KOSB although I do have 19 Berkshire men who served in them.
My point is that it is of more use to build up an index of references from a focussed group than merely quoting about 0.001% of the possible total. If you focus on one regiment or one geographical area you might get that hit rate up to around 10%. I reckon I have identified about 85% of the men who served in the regiment - missing mainly reservists and Territorials who were invalided out in the first two years of the war or joined in 1918
I guess we are fairly lucky in Berkshire as when a man was injured or home on leave the local newshounds paid them a visit and made a story out of it and when a man was killed we often get copies of letters from their CO or pals to their parents and wives. I am sure the Germans reading the Berkshire papers would have gleaned a lot of confidential information.
A few years ago we tried to get researchers to build focussed databases of either a regiment or county but few grasped the enormity of the task. Many transcribed lists from the SDGW and announced they had finished their task but with the N&M CD available most of it has been superseded and their work in vain.
The numbers are enormous - say with 8M men involved and 10 records per man one list of 80 records represents 0.001% ie your chances of finding any individual is about 1 in 100,000. What everyone seems to forget is that on average men had about 2.2 regimental numbers and served in 1.7 regiments and 2.8 battalions but we have found men with up to 10 different numbers and seven regiments
Why am I rabbitting on? - got to go now - is anyone interested in having another database conference?
Yes, the information available from local newspapers can be very detailed but can also be quite limiting and variable depending on the type of research you are undertaking.
From my experience of using the main (about 10-12) newspapers which cover my county and the surrounding counties in south-west Scotland, it is quite clear that a non-local serving in the 'county regiment' is highly unlikely to be mentioned in the local press.
With regards to the Berkshire papers, they sound like a tremendous resource wrt publishing lists from all the Royal Berks and Ox and Bucks. None of my local papers published that type of detail for the King's Own Scottish Borderers or Royal Scots Fusiliers, certainly not after 1914.
You queried the 'the value of all this'. I think these lists will be useful for regimental/battalion researchers in finding details of men not likely to be mentioned in the local press either because they are not from the area or that the reason for their inclusion in these lists is not the type of news normally reported at that time - accident and illness. Additionally, quite often the information provided in these lists on the unit in which the man served is more detailed (i.e. company level) than is usually given in local (in my area at least) newspapers.
My point of view is that if you don't know where a man is from, how can you research him in a local paper? If you are researching a regiment/battalion, not every soldier will be from your locality and possibly be mentioned in the local press. Any source that adds to the difficult and time-consuming search for information has to be welcomed. I think that this thread is one of the more useful contributions to the forum.
I find it bad enough doing one battalion! I would take my hat off to you but it's too cold today.
All the best,