Researching British Army Soldiers.

North East House Histories

Following on from our article about Robert Falconer we’d like to share some tips about researching British Army soldiers who served in the first World War. ©Discovering Heritage

The Service Medal

  • If you are lucky enough to have any medals awarded to the soldier the service number of the soldier should be engraved on the medal. This is a vital piece of information that may allow you to discover more about his army service.
  • If you don’t have access to the service number you may be able to discover this by looking for a Medal Roll Index Card. The Cards record the award of service medals. These are available on the two main commercial sites, Ancestry and Find My Past. This is easier if you are researching a more unusual name or if you know the name of the regiment the soldier served in.
  • If the soldier was awarded a gallantry medal a citation which included the service number was  placed in  The London Gazette

The Service Record

  • Once you have the service number you can try to locate the service record. The remaining service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks can be found on Ancestry and Find My Past. Only about 40% of the records survive, the remainder were destroyed during WWII.
  • The same sites can be used to access the pension records of those non-commissioned officers and other ranks who were discharged from the Army with a disability and claimed a pension as a result of their WWI service.
  • Service records of officers all survive but are not currently viewable online. Copies can be accessed via The National Archives 

Researching British Army Soldiers Who Served In WW1

Other Sites That May Help With Your Research

  • If a solder lost his life details of his date and place of death ought to be recorded on the website of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • The Imperial War Museum’s site Lives of The First World War includes information about many service personnel.
  • The Long Long Trail, a website dedicated to WWI, provides much useful context about ranks, regiments, campaigns etc.
  • Regimental magazines record acts of bravery and deaths in action although generally the magazines tend to focus on officers.
  • Regimental museums may hold useful research information 

©Discovering Heritage

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