section is not definitive but is designed to aid those of you researching
family history. There are several sources of information
and pamphlets from the Government Departments which should help.
The Imperial War Museum also has some useful leaflets (www.iwm.org.uk).
our on-line bookstore
site is maintained solely by volunteers and is funded by them as private
individuals. This includes the purchase of photographs, books, rolls of
honour plus the running costs of the site. We have always intended to
make this site free to all. If you have gained from this site then please
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you would like to donate but not on-line then cheques can be made payable
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used on this site have included:
are many other resources available on CD which can be found on ebay.
and Military Press have thousands of books on offer covering Regimental
Histories, Wars, Maps, etc. The CGWC is freely available and the CDROM's
are quite often available for use in large public libraries. The databases
are available on a pay-per-view basis from Naval and Military Press sister
Roll of Honour is selective and contains details mainly of those who died
National Roll of the Great War was produced in 14 volumes plus an index
and covrs those who died and those who served. It is widely thought to
be an unreliable publication. It was compiled on a subscription basis,
which means that it is far from comprehensive. Listings were often written
by family members, who may not have given correct details at the time
of compilation. The publishers began to compile the volumes in 1920, but
had gone into liquidation by 1922, having produced only 14 volumes. The
National Roll is therefore considered to be a helpful source, but not
one that should be relied upon above other sources. The volumes available
II - London
III - London
IV - Southampton
V - Luton
VI - Birmingham
VII - London
VIII - Leeds
IX - Bradford
X - Portsmouth
XI - Manchester
XII - Bedford & Northampton
XIII - London
XIV - Salford
National Archives contains the Medal
Rolls and the War
Office records (WO reference) which can be searched but payment
made for the actual documents. The First World War Medal Roll allows
instant payment for a .pdf copy of the medal card.
database search sites require you to sign up for membership
before you can access the records required. Some times your local library
has free access to some of these sites so it is well worth checking
with them. These are a few of the searchable record sets available,
there are mny more.
of this information sheet is to provide guidance on tracing Army personnel.
More detailed information can be found in our publication Tracing
your Family History: Army – this can be purchased from the
Imperial War Museum for £5.50. The Museum does not hold any personal
service records or official documentation, but can help the enquirer
as long as some basic facts are known. The Department of Printed
Books welcomes visitors by appointment and is able to provide useful
reading material and advice for finding out more about those who served.
Other reference departments in the Museum - Art, Documents, Exhibits
and Firearms, Film and Photograph Archives, and the Sound Archive
- may also be able to assist.
of Printed Books, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
020 7416 5342
(+44) 020 7416 5246
to Find Army Service Records
important piece of information is the unit that an individual served
with (it is a sad fact that those who died during the World Wars will
be easier to trace than those who survived, and this information is
readily obtainable from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission).
The personal service record should be the starting point, but not
all of these records for the First World War survived Second World
War bombing. Records are located according to an individual’s date
War Museum only covers the period from the First World War onwards.
Military history from 1485 to date is covered by the National Army
Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4HT (Tel:
020 7730 0717; Website: www.nam.ac.uk).
Pre-1914 service records are held at The National Archives,
Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU (Tel: 020 8392
5200; Website: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk).
The National Archives (TNA), formerly Public Record Office, also holds
all surviving First World War service records for officers who left
the Army before 1922. Surviving First World War service records for
other ranks who ceased service before 1920 are now held at the TNA
where they can be consulted on microfilm (unfortunately large numbers
of these were destroyed by bombing in the Second World War). The
publication Army Service Records of the First World War
by William Spencer, 3rd edition, (Richmond, Surrey: PRO, 2001) is
essential reading for those interested in First World War records,
and Army Records for Family Historians by Simon Fowler
and William Spencer, 2nd edition, (Richmond, Surrey: PRO, 1998) will
also prove helpful.
of any First World War soldier who saw service after these cut-off
dates or who rejoined the Army are held by the Ministry of Defence.
These can be applied for by post from Army
Personnel Centre, Historical Disclosures, Mailpoint 400, Kentigern
House, 65 Brown Street, Glasgow G2 8EX. Initial contact with
the Army Personnel Centre (APC) can be made by telephone (0141
224 3030) or e-mail – please
include your postal address. Records
will be released to proven next of kin for a £25 fee, but there
may be a lengthy wait for this service.
of Guards form an exception to this as records for other ranks (officers’
records are held by TNA/APC) are held by the Regimental Headquarters
Grenadier/Coldstream/Scots/Irish/Welsh Guards, Wellington Barracks,
Birdcage Walk, London SW1E 6HQ. Household Cavalry records are
held at TNA but are also accessible on microfiche at the Household
Cavalry Museum, Combermere Barracks, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 3DN (Website:
of Army officers can be traced using the regular official publication
the Army List, and the Department of Printed Books holds
an almost complete set of these from 1914 to date.
War Graves Commission, 2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire
SL6 7DX (Tel: 01628 507200) has details of all service personnel
who died between the dates 4 August 1914-31 August 1921 and 3 September
1939-31 December 1947. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
may charge a fee for postal enquiries, but the website containing
their computerised database, Debt of Honour
can be consulted at www.cwgc.org
about the burial places of soldiers who died outside the dates covered
by the CWGC are held by the Ministry of Defence, PS4
(A) (Cas/Comp), Building 43, Trenchard Lines, Upavon, Pewsey,
Wiltshire SN9 6BE. They also have some details relating
to soldiers’ wives or children who may have died outside the UK.
for Army personnel who died in the Second World War has also been
produced by Naval and Military Press, and can be consulted in our
Reading Room. Rolls of honour for other later conflicts are also
held, and in addition the DPB has a large collection of published
rolls of honour for localities, schools, institutions, etc. Regimental
histories and journals often contain rolls of honour.
soldiers’ own home area should not be forgotten when researching an
individual’s service - there may be local war memorial records, a local
account of war service may have been published, and contemporary local
newspapers can prove very helpful. It is also possible that school,
church or workplace records may still exist.
medals are those given to soldiers who are eligible for them because
they were in a particular theatre of war within given dates. The
First World War Medal Roll which provides a listing of all those who
qualified for the 1914 Star, 1914/15 Star, British War Medal, Victory
Medal, Territorial Force War Medal and/or the Silver
War Badge is held at TNA. If a First World War record was destroyed
some basic information about a soldier’s service may be found in this.
medals are those medals awarded for an especially heroic deed or
action. Records for these are held at TNA, but may not be very detailed.
Notifications and citations (if published, which was not the case for
awards such as the Military Medal and Mentions in Despatches) appeared
in the official journal London Gazette. A complete set
of this, and the all important indexes, is held at TNA. The
London Gazette Online Archive at thegazette.co.uk
provides access to First and Second World War entries. The DPB has
some published listings of medal awards for decorations such as the
Victoria Cross and Distinguished Conduct Medal. Usually you will need
to go either to the official unit war diary (held at TNA) or to a published
unit history to see whether you can find out more about the action for
which the decoration was awarded.
has an excellent collection of Regimental histories. For those unable
to visit our Reading Room (open 10am-5pm, Monday to Saturday), A
Bibliography of Regimental Histories of the British Army compiled
by Arthur S. White (London: London Stamp Exchange, 1988) provides
details of published histories that may be available through your
local library’s inter-library loan scheme. Regimental journals and
forces newspapers should not be overlooked.
title for locating Regimental museums (although these are unlikely
to hold information about individuals) is A Guide to Military
Museums: and Other Places of Military Interest by Terence
and Shirley Wise (Knighton, Powys: Terence Wise, 2001).
can also advise on the addresses of Old Comrades Associations. The
internet has made it easier to establish contact with people who may
have served in the Forces, or who may be conducting research similar
to your own. The British Legion website at www.britishlegion.org.uk is a
good place to start. An excellent site for First World War Orders of
Battle and Army information is www.1914-1918.net.
Other websites of interest include The Western Front Association at
www.westernfront.co.uk and The
National Archives - Army Regiments
The National Archives holds a lot of material which may help
you find out more about your ancestors serving in the military.
Soldiers records, medal rolls, officers' commissions etc. You
will find a list of The National
Archives research guides on their website. The research
guides include detailed information on how the records are organised
and how to access them.
First World War service records were destroyed in a fire caused
by enemy action in the Second World War, the surviving service
records are known as the "burnt documents".
your Army Ancestors by Simon Fowler - ISBN 1844154106
you are interested in the career of an individual officer, researching
medals awarded to a soldier or just want to know more about
a particular battle or campaign, this book will point you in
the right direction. Assuming that the reader has no prior knowledge
of the British army, its history or organization, family historian
Simon Fowler explains which records survive, where they can
be found and how they can help you in your research.
Your Royal Marine Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians - ISBN
you are interested in the career of an individual Royal Marine
or just want to know more about the part played by the Marines
in a particular battle or campaign, this book will point you in
the right direction. Assuming that the reader has no prior knowledge
of the Royal Marines, their history or organization, Richard Brooks
and Matthew Little explain which records survive, where they can
be found and how they can help you in your research. They also
describe in vivid detail the evolution of the Royal Marines, from
the tentative beginnings of the service in the seventeenth century
to their present position as a key part of the British armed forces.
Your Air Force Ancestors - ISBN 1844155730
you are interested in the career of an individual air-man or woman,
researching medals awarded to a pilot or crew member or just want
to know more about a particular squadron or operation, this book
will point you in the right direction. Assuming that the reader
has no prior knowledge of the air force, its history or organization,
Phil Tomaselli explains which records survive, where they can
be found and how they can help you in your research. He also recommends
resources available online as well as books and memoirs. Each
era in air force history is described, from the pioneering days
of early aviation and the formation of the Royal Flying Corps
in the First World War to the creation of the Royal Air Force,
its operations during the Second World War and its postwar development.
The author explains the evolving organization of the air force
in each period. He also provides pointers and examples which should
help researchers find the records of units and bases that individuals
Your Naval Ancestors (Readers Guides) - ISBN 1903365376
guide for family and historians, archivists, librarians and medal
collectors. It explains the range of records and secondary sources
which can be used to trace genealogical and career information
in relation to men and women who have served in the Royal Navy
and the naval reserve and auxillary forces formed to assist it
from 1660 to modern times. The guide aims to help researchers
identify key and overlooked sources vital to tracing naval ancestors.
It includes sections on recently released Royal Naval Reserve,
Royal Naval Air Service, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Royal
Naval Division, Queen Alexandra's Naval Nursing Services, and
Women's Royal Naval Service First World War service records.
Your First World War Ancestors - ISBN 1846741300
comprehensive guide for those researching their ancestors in all
three armed services - the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal
Your Second World War Ancestors - ISBN 1853069361
is a comprehensive guide for those researching their ancestors
in all three armed services - the Army, the Royal Navy, and the
Royal Air Force.
Memorials in Britain - ISBN 0747806268
memorials are a feature of Britain's landscape, often taken for
granted, and part of the fabric of its history as a nation. The
Imperial War Museum's National Inventory has sixty thousand war
memorials spanning two millennia. They include works of art and
the artless, the sacred and the secular, vernacular and abstract
forms, all redolent with symbolism ancient and modern. The examples
shown here are an eclectic mix with, perhaps, a few surprises.
They are intended as a tribute to the victims of war and as tangible
reminders of significant events, deserving remembrance and necessitating
their conservation as part of the national heritage.
Museums in the UK - ISBN 1903942616
latest edition of the guidebook, "Military Museums in the
UK", published in association with the Army Museum Ogilby
Trust, includes comprehensive region-by-region details on over
140 Regimental and service-related museums throughout England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition to clearly presented
information on collections, facilities, opening hours and directions,
there is a separate section covering the principal Service Museums
and prestigious national collections, as well as a guide to the
succession of Regimental titles. This spiral bound paperback folds
flat for easy reference and is the essential guide for museum
visitors and anyone interested in military history.
9 March, 2021