.RESOURCES FOR WWI RESEARCH

 
Researching individual service people Researching memorials  Researching the war
This section is still being built. We hope it will be useful to anyone wishing to undertake research themselves using the available on-line and original sources.
   
Researching individual service people Location of Records
War Deaths
Medals
Service Records
 
Merseyside Record Offices
Other Record Offices
 
 
Researching individual service people

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Some of the available military records cover only those who died in the war - CWGC, death certificates and SDGW - and others also contain information on the majority of those who served as well - medals awarded for gallantry, service and pension records.
 
Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC)
The Debt of Honour Register is the Commission's database listing the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated. This database includes details of the graves of (or commemorations to) members of the Army, Air Force, Royal Navy and Merchant Navy and other war workers who died whilst still "in uniform" between 4th August 1914 and 21st August 1921.
In many cases only the deceased's initials are given instead of the full first name(s) and no age is recorded. This information was requested from the next of kin and many never filled in the form and returned it to the Commission.
The names of those who were considered to have died of their war injuries, even if they died before 21st August 1921, but had already been discharged from the forces were not eligible for a CWGC gravestone and are therefore usually not included on the Debt of Honour Register.
  • A further version is available at www.ancestry.co.uk There is a subscription charge to use Ancestry but free trials are often available for new users and it can be accessed for free at many public libraries.
Geoff's WWI Search Engine allows users greater flexibility when searching the original CWGC site. Geoff asks users of his site to make a donation to Help for Heroes.
 
Death Certificates
Separate indexes of armed forces deaths have been kept since 1796. Following the War Office and Admiralty procedures for reporting, verifying and notifying next of kin of a death or presumed death, these events were recorded in consolidated registers by the General Record Office for England and Wales, but covering the whole of the UK for the period 1914 to 1921.
The description 'armed forces deaths' can be slightly misleading. A death of any serviceman who died within the UK may be registered at the nearest local register offices.
The indexes usually give the first name in full. Copies of the certificates themselves can be purchased. Age may be given but they usually contain little additional information about the place or cause of death.
British soldiers who died between 1914 and 1920 in a hospital or outside of the battle zone in France or Belgium were issued with a French or Belgian death certificate. These records will be in French or Flemish. They are available to view at the National Archives in Kew, Surrey and are archived with the catalogue reference of RG 35/45-69:
There are also registers for Army deaths abroad from 1881- 1955 (plus RAF from 1920). Even during WWI many battalions were stationed outside the combat zone, particularly in India,
GRO WAR DEATHS NAVY ALL RANKS INDICES (1914 to 1921) includes Royal Marines and Royal Navy Air Service 1914 - 1921
GRO WAR DEATHS ARMY OFFICERS INDICES (1914 to 1921) includes RAF and RFC deaths 1914 - 1921
GRO WAR DEATHS ARMY OTHER RANKS (1914 to 1921) includes RAF and RFC deaths 1914 - 1921
GRO ARMY DEATH INDICES (1881 to 1955) 1916 - 1920
All of the above indexes can be consulted in many local libraries and are also now available for a fee on websites such as www.findmypast.co.uk and www.familyrelatives.com.
 
Deaths at sea of sailors and crew of ships not part of the Royal Navy will not be found in the above records. Their death certificates are held at the National Archives (BT 334). Indexes are available at many local libraries. At the moment they are not available on-line for the WWI period
 
Soldiers and Officers Died in the Great War (SDGW)

The compilations Soldiers Died in the Great and Officers Died in the Great War were originally published in 1921. SDGW are listed in 80 volumes organised by the regiment or corps a soldier belonged to at the time of death. These volumes often give information that is not available in the CWGC Debt of Honour Register, including full first names, place of birth, place of residence, place of enlistment and any former regiment.

These volumes only cover soldiers in British regiments and rarely contain information for anyone who died after 1918. 
 
These works are now available as a searchable CD-ROM, published by Naval & Military Press www.naval-military-press.com Many local libraries have a copy of these CDs.
Further versions are available for a fee at www.findmypast.co.uk and www.ancestry.co.uk There is a subscription charge to use both findmypast and Ancestry but free trials are often available for new users and Ancestry can be accessed for free at many public libraries.
 
Royal Naval Casualties (1914-1919) (on findmypast) Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll (1914-1919) (on ancestry)
Almost 45,000 Royal Navy sailors lost their lives in the Great War and sadly, for most, the sea is their last resting place. Those without graves are mostly commemorated on the huge naval memorials at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. Despite the number remaining at sea, about 36 per cent are buried ashore, in mostly named graves, and all over the world.
Aside from their full names, rating, number, branch of service, name of ship or unit, decorations etc., other valuable information is usually available. The date and cause of death, location of their cemetery and reference of grave (where applicable) is shown together with the name and address of the relative notified of the death.
 
Casualty Lists of the Royal Navy and Dominion Navies
www.naval-history.net hosts a database of over 125,000 names. Much of the information is contained in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site, but in a form accessible only by the person's name or by a search of cemeteries.  However, there is independent and updated information, not contained in CWGC, which has been obtained from the death ledgers prepared by the Admiralty for officers and ratings.
 
The Jack Clegg Memorial Database of Royal Naval Division Casualties of The Great War (1914-1924)
 
Available on www.findmypast.co.uk and www.ancestry.co.uk
 
 
Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force Casualties
Casualty cards, giving details of the casualty, the aircraft involved and sometimes the next of kin details are available. These are held at the R.A.F. Museum Hendon in north London. www.rafmuseum.org.uk

There are also records held at the National Archives at Kew which relate to R.F.C. and R.A.F. casualties, records of squadrons, officers reported missing and messages from the Germans about missing pilots. 

 
Medal Card Index (United Kingdom Soldiers and Airmen)
The most comprehensive list of soldiers who served overseas during the First World War is the campaign medal card index
The Medal Index Cards (MICs) were created by the Army Medal Office towards the end of the First World War. The cards record an individual's medal entitlement, their rank, unit, and often the first theatre of war in which they served.
In general all those who saw service overseas were awarded a campaign medal. If the serviceman or woman survived World War I and served long enough overseas to qualify for campaign medals, then they should be found in the Medal Rolls held at the PRO Kew.
Officers had to apply for their campaign medal, so if they did not apply, there will not be a medal card.
If members of the Royal Flying Corps did not see service overseas until 1916 or later, you will not find a medal card here. The Air Ministry maintained these medal records and they have not been transferred to The National Archives.
Occasionally the medal card will confirm that the individual did not receive any medals, including many soldiers who went to France after 11 November 1918. They thought they were entitled and applied, but had their application refused. Others failed to meet the required criteria for certain awards, had not served abroad, or forfeited their campaign medals due to a disciplinary infringement.
You can download over 5.5 million World War One medal index cards from the National Archives at £2.00 each
Alternatively, www.ancestry.co.uk provides free access to the Medal Card Index images. There is a subscription charge to use Ancestry but free trials are often available for new users and it can be accessed for free at many public libraries.
For an infantryman, his entry in the Medal Rolls details each battalion with which he served after first going overseas.

The Medal Rolls themselves can only be consulted at The National Archives at Kew. For an infantryman, his entry in the Medal Rolls details each battalion with which he served after first going overseas.

 
Royal Navy Officers Medal Roll 1914-1920
 
Available on www.findmypast.co.uk
 
 
Campaign Medals awarded to First World War Merchant Seamen
Over 155,000 cards recording the award of campaign medals to merchant seamen in the First World War.
The Mercantile Marine Medal was awarded to those who served at sea for no less than six months between 4 August 1914 and 11 November 1918, and who served at sea on at least one voyage through a danger zone. All recipients of the Mercantile Marine Medal were automatically entitled to the British War Medal.
 
 
The Jack Clegg Memorial Database of WW1 Campaign Medals to the Royal Marines 1914-1920
This database is a transcription of The National Archives document classes ADM/171/167 to ADM/171/171 (inclusive), ADM/171/92 & ADM/171/139, which comprise the complete World War I Campaign Medal Rolls for the Royal Marines. Added to the transcript are service details for a large number of men, particularly those killed in action or died of wounds during WW1 and in many cases post-war deaths and WW2 deaths are noted.
The database contains the names of over 75,000 Royal Marine Officers, NCOs and other ranks, and provides a complete listing of all Royal Marines who served in WW1.
Available on www.findmypast.co.uk
 
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972
This database contains lists of more than 1.5 million officers, enlisted personnel and other individuals entitled to medals and awards commemorating their service with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines between 1793 and 1972. The original medal rolls were compiled by the War Office and are housed at the National Archives of the UK in Kew, Surrey, who have produced a helpful research guide.
For the First World War this set of documents includes medals awarded to the Mercantile Marine Reserve, Royal Marines, Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and the Royal Navy. 
 
Available on www.ancestry.co.uk
 
Awards for Gallantry
The London Gazette is the Official Newspaper of Record for the United Kingdom. All awards for Gallantry should appear in this publication. The issues for the years 1914-1920 can be searched on-line for awards for gallantry.
 
 
British Soldiers (other Ranks) service records [WO 363] and pension records [WO 364]
Only 40% of the British army's service records survived World War II bomb damage. A database has been produced by Ancestry in partnership with the National Archives containing the approximately 2 million surviving service records (WO 363 - often called the 'burnt' documents) of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served with British regiments during World War I and did not re-enlist in the army prior to World War II. The type of information contained in these records includes: name of solider, age, birthplace, occupation, marital status, and regiment number.
Around 750,000 documents held in WO 364 (often called the 'unburnt' documents) were re-constructed from records held at the Ministry of Pensions which were not damaged during World War II. These account for only around 8% of the original Service Records. They relate only to those soldiers who were medically discharged and got a pension. Pensions were only awarded to soldiers who were graded as 20% or more disabled. Lesser disablement was compensated by payment of a lump sum not recorded in WO 364.
These records also include soldiers who were in the British Army before August 1914 and who were eligible for an Army pension because their term of service came to an end in or before 1920.
Service Records for Other Ranks and Non-Commissioned Officers of the Household Cavalry and of the Guards Regiments are held by each regiment are held by the regiments and are therefore not included in this series.
There is a subscription charge to use www.ancestry.co.uk but free trials are often available for new users and it can be accessed for free at many public libraries.
It is also possible to access the WO 363 and WO 364 series through the LDS library system.
 
Soldiers (officers) service and pension records
The situation is different for officers, whose records have generally survived and can be inspected in their original form at Kew. (An exception seems to be the records of R.A.M.C. officers, which have been unaccountably lost.)
Officers' records are in WO 374 (Territorial Army commissions) or WO 339 (indexed on microfilm in WO 338 and now searchable on-line through the The National Archives catalogue).

 

 

British Army Service Records 1760-1913
Some ex-soldiers re-enlisted in 1914. Their records are unlikely to be found in this series but we have had some successes, particularly when a man enlisted in a different regiment.
Available on www.findmypast.co.uk
 
 
First World War Widows' and dependents' Pensions Forms (PIN 82) - all services
This series consists of a random sample of First World War widows' and dependents' pensions forms created by the Ministry of Pensions. The sample represents only 8% of the originals.
Each file contains approximately 50 forms. The forms give personal details of each serviceman's name, place of residence, particulars of service and the date, place and cause of death or injury. The forms also give details of the assessment of, and entitlement to, pensions awards, the amount awarded, and the length of time for which the award is granted. Some forms contain details of awards of mourning grants, and copies of death certificates.
These are searchable on-line through the The National Archives catalogue.
 
War Diaries
The principal records series for First World War diaries is WO 95. The originals of all war diaries are held at the National Archives, Kew.
The National Archives has been digitising selected War Diaries from the First World War. They contain daily reports on operations, intelligence summaries and other pertinent material.
 
Typed Copies of War Diaries for the King's Regiment (Liverpool) are held as part of the regiment's archives at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. They are available by prior appointment only. The Maritime Archives and Library also holds a small selection of published histories and other publications on open access. Some of the regiments casualty books are also available. 
 
Australian Service Records
Records of Australian servicemen and women who served in World War I in the first Australian Imperial Force (AIF) are preserved in the National Archives.
All World War I service records (series B2455) have been digitised and are available to view online.
More than 375,000 people enlisted to serve Australia during WWI. Almost 60,000 of these had been born in the United Kingdom.
 
 
 
Records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force
Over 600,000 men and women enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1918) as soldiers, nurses and chaplains. The CEF database is an index to those service files, which are held by Library and Archives Canada.
In addition, scanned images of most of the Attestation papers are available in the database. More will be added as the scanning project continues.
The front and in most cases back of the soldier's attestation form can be seen and downloaded at the website.
 
New Zealand (Auckland War Memorial Museum) Cenotaph Database
Started primarily as a roll of honour of those who died as a result of war service the Cenotaph Database now includes many personnel who have died since war service. Virtually all those who served in World War One are included.
The database already consists of over 122600 records, many of which include a portrait taken from published sources or supplied by family members.
 
Soldiers in other armies
The Great War 1914-1918 provides a very comprehensive guide to soldiers of the American, Belgium. French, German and Italian, Russian armies
 
 

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Service Records

It is now possible to search and download the service records of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (1917-1918), later Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps (1918-1920) from the The National Archives.  Over 57,000 women served in the Corps. An air raid in 1940 destroyed many of their service records but over 7,000 survived.
 
 
 
Royal Marines Service Records
You can search and download the service registers of around 110,000 men who joined the Royal Marines between 1842 and 1925 from the The National Archives.
 
 
 
Royal Naval Division Service Records (1914-1919)
When the First World War began, the Reserves of the Royal Navy were found to have a surplus of thousands of sailors even though the warships were fully crewed. The Royal Naval Division (RND) was formed in September 1914. They can be searched and downloaded from the The National Archives.
 
 
 
Royal Navy (ratings) Service Records (1853-1923)
You can search and download over 600,000 service records from the The National Archives for most ratings who joined the Royal Navy between 1853 and 1923 in the Registers of Seamen's Services ( ADM 188) and the Continuous Service engagement books (ADM 139).
These records can tell you about your ancestor's birth, their physical appearance, their occupation and which ship(s) they served on. Details of service are recorded up to 1928.
 
 
Royal Navy (officers) Service Records
Records were kept by the Admiralty from the 1840s and record service for warrant officers joining the Royal Navy up to 1931 and commissioned officers joining the service up to 1917.
Records of about 74,000 officers who joined the service between 1756 and 1917 have been digitised.
Over 5,000 selected officers' service records, recorded on cards and files, for men serving in the Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve are available to download from the The National Archives.
 
 
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Service Records
Service records of those who served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the First World War are also available to download from the The National Archives.
 
 
 
Women's Royal Naval Service Records (1917-1919)
The Women's Royal Naval Service was formed to carry out shore-based duties and allow sailors to go to sea. The Admiralty aimed to recruit 3,000 women but eventually over 5,000 women joined. Their records are available to download from the The National Archives.
 
 
 
RAF (officers) Service Records
The RAF was the world's first independent military air arm and by the end of the First World War it had become the largest, with over 27,000 officers and 250,000 other ranks.
 
 
 
RAF (other ranks) Service Records
The RAF was the world's first independent military air arm and by the end of the First World War it had become the largest, with over 27,000 officers and 250,000 other ranks.
 
If the airman died or was discharged before April 1918, look in WO 363 or WO 364. If he was in service on 1 April 1918, his service record went to the RAF. From 1 April 1918 the records are in AIR 79. They are in service number order. If you do not know the service number, look at the index in AIR 78.
 
 
Royal Naval Air Service Royal Naval Air Service (officers) Service Records
Most of the service records of officers of the Royal Naval Air Service can be found within ADM 273.  Although not digitised, the series ADM 273 has been indexed, which means it is possible to search for individuals by name using the The National Archives catalogue.
 
 
 
Royal Naval Air Service (other ranks) Service Records
 
If an airman served in the RNAS before April, 1918, his record of service up to 31 March 1918 will be found in ADM 188. If he served after April 1918, his record was kept from then on by the RAF
From 1 April 1918 are in AIR 79. They are in service number order. If you do not know the service number, look at the index in AIR 78.
 
 
 
WRAF Service Records (1914-1919)
the records of around 30,000 women who served with the Women's Royal Air Force during the First World War are available to download from the The National Archives.
 
 
 
Researching commemorations

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Commonwealth War Grave Commission
The Debt of Honour Register is the Commission's database listing the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated. This database includes details of the graves of (or commemorations to) members of the Army, Air Force, Royal Navy and Merchant Navy and other war workers who died whilst still "in uniform" between 4th August 1914 and 21st August 1921.
 
The War Graves Photographic Project
The aim of The War Graves Photographic Project is to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, MoD grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day and make these available within a searchable database.
Now working as a joint venture with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, this will enable families, scholars and researchers to obtain, via the CWGC or TWGPP websites, a copy of the photograph of a grave or memorial which for many is impossible to visit due to the location.  
 
 
War Memorials Trust
The War Memorials Trust works for the protection and conservation of war memorials in the UK. We provide advice and information to anyone as well as running grant schemes for the repair and conservation of war memorials. The website provides a range of resources to help you discover more about war memorials and their preservation. 
 
 
 
UK National Inventory of War Memorials
War memorials are a familiar site in the landscape of the United Kingdom. They provide insight into not only the changing face of commemoration but also military history, social history and art history. There are an estimated 100,000 war memorials throughout the UK in many differing forms, from the frequently-seen community crosses or plaques to buildings, lych gates, gardens, hospitals, organs, chapels and windows. The UK National Inventory of War Memorials database marks the unique place that they have in our nation's history and provides for the first time a UK wide database of these memorials commemorating all conflicts, not just those of the First and Second World War.
 
Merseyside Record Offices

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Liverpool Libraries & Record Office
Liverpool Record Office holds archive documents, which include photographs, council minutes, ecclesiastical and school records and local and family history resources on microfilm and microfiche. 
Liverpool Library Catalogue
Liverpool Local Studies Catalogue
Liverpool Archives Catalogue
 
 
Sefton Libraries
 
Knowsley Libraries
 
St Helens Libraries
 
Wirral Libraries
 
Merseyside Maritime Museum
 
Liverpool University Library
 
 
 
 

 

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