Researching a soldier that served in World War One, may at first seem daunting, after all millions of men served throughout the armed forces during this period. The following tips will help you on your way to discovering in more detail what the person you are interested in actually did, where he fought or died, did he become a prisoner of war or was he wounded?
A good place to start is by asking members of your family, quite often stories survive of what Grandad did during the war these can all be helpful pointers if possible the points will help narrow the search.
His Full Name
Sorry for stating the obvious but knowing this will help enormously...there still may be many thousands of men listed with the same name and it is a fairly common fact that quite a number of men served under an alias for what ever reason
Any Official Papers?
Birth, Death and Marriage certificates are excellent sources for determining his full name and are good indicators of the dates that he may have joined the army or been called up to serve King & Country.
Regimental Papers or Documents & Old Photographs
Have a look through any Old Photographs, recently i examined a Soldiers papers and inside a sleave of one of the documents was a letter from the Ministry Of Defence stating a list of personal effects that had been taken from the unfortunate chap that had succumbed to his wounds and the family had never noticed the document!
With reference to the old photos these can sometimes help identify the Regiment that he served in, although it is not uncommon for them to have served in two or more different Regiments!
I had been told that my Gt Grandfather had been bayonetted at the Battle of Cambrai. In fact it was Courtrai in Belgium, its an easy mistake to make. The reason that i am telling you is that over the years the stories sometimes unwittingly get changed. Fortunately though he did survive the bayonet incident!
These stories can give you a good idea of what he may have done during the war and subsequently give you an idea of the Regiment he served in. If his medals are still in your famillies posession take a close look at them, his name, regiment and number will be inscribed on either the rim or on the back. You can also take a look at the census records most of which are now available online, You can also check the local newspaper archives for snippets of information and once you know which regiment he served in you can contact them to see if they have anything about him in the museum...You never know!
If you need any further assistance researching a World war One Soldier, don`t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us here For additional resources and tips to help with your WW1 research check out our Links Page