However, many of the records in the First World War collections cover service up to The ranks covered by the records detailed in this guide include Private, Lance Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, Sergeant Major and Warrant Officer — but not commissioned officer ranks. For the service records of soldiers serving in the armies of Commonwealth countries such as Canada, New Zealand or South Africa you will need to contact the respective archives of those countries. Whether other records survive or ever existed for a soldier depend upon a number of variable factors. If, for example, a soldier was wounded, taken prisoner or was granted an army pension, records may survive recording these events.
Many records held at The National Archives are available online, some of them on partner websites, others on our own website. For details of other online First World War records, see the Records in other archives and organisations listed below. Search military records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks on Ancestry.
The British Army contained regiments from parts of the former colonies. The service records in WO and WO include regiments such as:. They do not include the service records for soldiers serving in the armies of Commonwealth countries such as Canada, New Zealand or South Africa.
The Royal Scots Greys
You will need to contact their respective archives for advice on how to locate these records. These cards, along with the medal rolls to which they form an index see below , were created primarily to record the awarding of campaign medals. Campaign medals were awarded to all soldiers who served in a theatre of conflict overseas. In some instances the cards also record gallantry award s. Alternatively you can search by regiment. The badge was awarded to all of those military personnel who were discharged as a result of sickness or wounds contracted or received during the war, either at home or overseas.
British Army during World War I
See below for advice on searching for the war diaries of units that served elsewhere in the world during the war. See our guide to records of British prisoners of the First World War for details of the prisoner of war records available online. Search by unit name and number for document references to unit war diaries in series WO 95 using the series search. Use this search tool if you are looking for the war diaries of units that served in Russia, British colonies and theatres of operations other than the Western Front, Mesopotamia and Gallipoli — for these latter three see the advice on online diaries in the previous section.
Some of these records were destroyed by enemy bombing of the Guards chapel during the Second World War. These list monies owed to a soldier who died in service. The cards record details of the pension entitlements of soldiers and other servicemen killed or injured in the war, both of officers and other ranks, and of the widows and dependants of deceased soldiers. Search for a soldier by name in the Absent Voters Lists, taken from electoral registers held at the British Library, on Findmypast. The Absent Voter Lists enabled servicemen and women away from home to vote by proxy or by postal application.
They record the address, service number and regimental details of each person.
Use our library catalogue to find a recommended book list. You can also search our bookshop for a wide range of history titles. For quick pointers Tuesday to Saturday to Discovery is a catalogue of archival records across the UK and beyond, from which you can search 32 million records. Patented textile pattern by Christopher Dresser. All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3. As the numbers of those who fought in the two world wars diminish, there is a danger that the answer to this question may not be forthcoming.
- The Dandelions.
- Moonlight Isle.
- The Genealogist Research Guide.
It is all too easy, especially for young people who may not have a direct connection to the history of those events, to become bogged down in textbook statistics and forget that the names remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on headstones and memorials, or the faces that stare out at us from sepia-tinted photographs, relate to real people, called upon to do a difficult and sometimes terrible job. Gaining an insight into the lives of those who served and died in the two world wars, or those who survived, is a tangible way to ensure that we never forget the price paid for the freedoms we enjoy.
But how does one go about such research in what can be, no pun intended, an information minefield? Numerous books exist on the subject, as well as useful web-based resources.
Battalions in World War 2 - The Royal Scots
Unfortunately, one of the problems with researching military records, particularly in the United Kingdom, is the widespread physical locations of the material. Their informative website at www. While some research can be done online, most requires a personal visit to TNA, or, if this is not possible, you can engage a freelance researcher.
Virtually every serving soldier, sailor or airman qualified for a campaign medal and that entitlement is recorded within the rolls. One of the most popular series of records used by genealogists is the World War One Campaign Medals Index, which can be searched online at The National Archives website the correct link is www.
As with all such searches, common names may present problems. Once you have identified which medals the serviceman was entitled to, you should be able to identify the campaigns he was engaged in and the regiment or units he belonged to. Armed with this information you may want to read the regimental war diary, which can help to build a daily picture of war service. The content of these diaries varies, but they often mention the battles in which the men were engaged as well as the more mundane duties required of a unit in the field.
However, it is uncommon to find individuals other than officers mentioned by name unless they did something extraordinary; most are included in the sometimes frustrating term 'other ranks'.
Even so, it is possible to identify quite precisely where a unit was at any given time during the war and what happened to it. It is uncommon to find individuals other than officers mentioned by name in regimental diaries unless they did something extraordinary Next, visit your local regimental museum, one of the other service museums or national museums to build up a good picture of what life was like for your ancestor during their period of service.
A regimental museum may have images of the men who served or letters home, and will almost certainly have an expert on hand to bring dates and events to life. A guide to regimental and corps museums can be found on the National Army Museum's website at: www. Medals awarded for acts of gallantry can also help to build up a picture of an individual's wartime service. The citation text explaining why the award was given can sometimes be found in archive copies of the London Gazette - again available at The National Archives or online at www.
Gazettes are the official newspaper of the state and contain information about officers' commissions, honours and awards. A sad fact, perhaps, but information about those who died during the two world wars is often the easiest to trace. In part, this is because of the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, whose records are readily available to the public, but local war memorials, parish records, newspaper archives, Honour Rolls and other publications greatly assist the researcher engaged in this particular field.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is perhaps best known for the maintenance of the cemeteries and memorials in its care, but through its public enquiry service it also makes available details of the places of burial or commemoration of the Commonwealth's 1. The Commission also keeps a roll of honour recording the names of some 66, civilians who died as a result of enemy action during World War Two. The Commission's military records were compiled from contributions by the service authorities of what would now be known as the Commonwealth governments.
In the Commission computerised its paper records to safeguard the original documents and to tackle the ever-increasing number of enquiries and the growing complexity of requests. The resulting database enables the Commission's enquiries department to respond quickly and efficiently to approximately 40, postal and telephone enquiries annually, as well as provide more specialised services such as searches on family name, regiment or home town as criteria - increasingly important for schools and researchers.
A simplified 'search by surname' version of the database was made available at the Commission's website - www. The Debt of Honour register, as it is known, has been deliberately kept as simple as possible and contains sections on frequently asked questions, advice and useful addresses. However, a word of caution that applies to all research in this field: never assume the information passed down verbally by your family is correct. Always try to corroborate with medals, newspaper cuttings and letters.
A typical casualty record includes the name, basic service details, the date of death and, if the Commission was provided with the information, age and next of kin details. This will then be followed by the relevant commemorative information which gives details of the cemetery or memorial, how to find it, and the grave number or memorial panel.