World War One Ancestors
by Phil Westwood
Over 5 million people served in the Forces from the British Isles. War
Memorials in almost every City, Town and Village in the UK record the names
of the many who didn't return.
Researching ancestors who fought in the First World War is time consuming
but rewarding. Some research can be done on line but a visit to the Public
Record Office will be necessary.
This article describes the most straightforward records to research
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a searchable database of those
who died in World War One
this gives the name, number, where born, where enlisted, when died,
where buried, next of kin regiment and number.Further information may be
available from the Commission write including details if known - full name
, rank, unit, date of death, age, place of death, home Town to
The World War One Genealogy Forum is worth visiting to share information and
Research will be made easier if you know your Ancestors full name and
Regiment. Are there any surviving documents or medals ? Any official letter
from the Army is likely to note the Regiment. Medals have the Regiment
inscribed on the back.All Officers were awarded medals in the First World
War, an alphabetical index at the Public Record Office will show name,
rank, number and Regiment.
The First World War dead are listed in "Soldiers died in the Great War" or
"Officers died in the Great War" available on CD Rom and microfilm at the
Public Record Office and published by the Naval and Military Press. Entries
are by Corps and Regiments divided into Battalions then alphabetical order.
The information includes place of birth, place of enlistment, whether died
in action or of wounds if known, where death occured and any medals awarded
Nearly all service records are now at the Public Records Office. Only 40%
of service records survive as many were destroyed by enemy action in World
War 2. Contents of service records vary, they are often not as
comprehensive as people think. They follow the persons career and include
at least the following information and sometimes more - place of birth, age
on enlistment, next of kin, promotions, medals awarded and various other
letters and documents.
This article has described the most straightforward records to resource.
Other sources are available but are often incomplete. To persue the subject
in greater detail it would probably be necessary to use the services of a
Few families were untouched by death in the First World War. In recent
years in the UK the custom has been revived where on the Anniversary of
hostilities ceasing on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Towns
,Cities, schools and shops remain silent for two minutes to remember those
who fought and died.
<< Atlantic Crossings
Newspapers in Family History Research
United Kingdom Census Returns
National Records at the PRO
Philip Westwood runs a genealogical service enabling Americans and Canadians to research their English Ancestors.
For more details view his profile.