Tracing Your First World War Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

Tracing Your First World War Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

by Simon Fowler


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As the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War approaches, there is a huge surge of interest in the men and women who took part in it. This book is a timely guide if you are researching the soldiers, sailors or airmen. It is an accessible, up-to-date and expert introduction to get you on your way and to answer those questions that might crop up during your researches. In a straightforward, easy-to-follow style it introduces readers to the multitude of sources they can use to explore the history of the war for themselves.

Anyone who is eager to piece together the wartime career and likely experiences of an ancestor who was involved in any aspect the conflict, at home or overseas, will find his book to be an indispensable source of information and advice. In a series of short, instructive chapters Simon Fowler takes the reader through the process of researching ancestors who served in the armed forces, providing short cuts and background information as required.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781781590379
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 05/03/2013
Series: Tracing your Ancestors Series
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Simon Fowler is a professional writer, researcher and historian, specializing in family and military history. He has made a particular study of the First World War, and has long been interested in how Britain, and Europe, readjusted to post-war conditions. Daniel Weinbrens PhD concentrated on the impact of the First World War on British society. His historical publications include The Open University. A History and The Oddfellows 1810-2010. He has taught courses on war and society at several universities and currently teaches this subject at The Open University.

Table of Contents

Preface viii

Acknowledgements x

List of Abbreviations xi

Chapter 1 Starting Out 1

Records Online 1

Archives 5

What's Where? 8

Things to Remember 8

Western Front Association 9

Other Useful Genealogical Records and Sources 9

Research Pitfalls 11

Using Professional Researchers 20

Chapter 2 Casualties 22

Introduction 22

War Graves 23

Interpreting Burial Locations 26

Photographing War Graves 26

Rolls of Honour 29

General Rolls of Honour 30

War Memorials 32

Scottish War Memorial 34

Other Sources 35

Hospital Records 36

Chapter 3 Army Service Records 40

Medal Index Cards 41

Medal Rolls 46

Service Records - Other Ranks and Non-commissioned Officers 47

Army Service Numbers (Regimental Numbers) 51

The Guards 52

Service Records - Officers 52

Army Lists and the London Gazette 57

Service Records After 1920 60

Identifying Military Uniforms 61

Chapter 4 Researching Soldiers - Additional Resources 64

War Diaries 64

Gallantry Medals 68

Good Conduct and Long Service Award Medals 72

Courts Martial 72

Prisoners of War 74

Regimental Magazines 77

Pensions 77

Pension Record Cards 078

Personal Papers and Effects 78

Photographs and Film 81

Trench Maps 82

Chapter 5 The War at Sea 84

Royal Navy 84

Navy or Wavy Navy? 84

Material at the Fleet Air Arm Museum 85

The Coastguard 95

Royal Marines 95

Merchant Navy 97

Chapter 6 In the Air 104

AIR 1 106

Common Sources 106

Service Records 108

Royal Naval Air Service 111

Flight Magazine 112

Casualties 112

Operational Records 113

Medals and Awards 115

Chapter 7 Women and Civilians at War 117

Women's War Work Collection/Women at Work Collection 117

Women at War 118

Nursing 119

Voluntary Aid Detachments 123

Auxiliary Corps 125

Civilians 128

The National Roll of the Great War 131

The Order of the British Empire 133

Local Histories 135

Military Service Tribunals 136

Internees 138

War Refugees 139

Chapter 8 The Dominions 140

Australia 142

Canada 144

India 144

Newfoundland 146

New Zealand 146

South Africa 148

Colonies 148

Appendix 1 Useful Addresses 151

Appendix 2 Key Websites 152

Appendix 3 How the Army was Organised 153

Appendix 4 Battlefield Tourism 157

Index 159

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