Saturday 29 August 2009

Updates - week ending 29th August 2009

It's been another busy week with enquiries ranging from British military campaigns in India in the mid 1800s, to the Second World War. All fascinating stuff and we're always happy to quote on your research projects.

As I indicated a couple of days ago, Ancestry has now published records on WW2 prisoners of war and a WW2 Roll of Honour. CLICK HERE to go direct to the Ancestry site.

As I mentioned, the WW2 Roll of Honour is not a complete record of service of those who lost their lives whilst in the service of their country. My own relative, Charles Stanley Bothwell, lost his life in January 1941 after being knocked down by a car during the blackout. He was in uniform, serving with the Royal Pioneer Corps, and was buried under a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone. However, his name does not appear on the WW2 Roll of Honour. The WW2 Roll is a useful addition to the WW2 archive but use it in conjunction with the CWGC roll of honour. Search the CWGC database HERE.

Whilst on the subject of Word War Two, it's worth repeating that WW2 service records are not yet accessible to the general public. These are still held by the Ministry of Defence and, if you're a relative, you would be best advised writing to the MoD in the first instance. We can help you with operational records - war diaries and the like - but the personnel files are currently off limits.

Finally, this is the last weekend of the Naval & Military Press summer sale which ends on Monday. We've taken advantage of some great discounts on previously difficult-to-find titles and have added to our library. Click on the link below to search the extensive catalogue.

The image on this post comes from the National Army Museum's archive and dates from 1858. It shows an elephant pulling a field gun in India during the Indian Mutiny. I was at the NAM last week - well worth a visit if you happen to be in London.

Thursday 27 August 2009

WW2 - New releases from Ancestry

Ancestry has announced that it has published the following two data sets for the Second World War: WW2 PoW Records and a WW2 Roll of Honour. Details as follows:

1. WW2 PoW Records
Contains over 100,000 British Army Personnel PoW records. If your ancestors were held as prisoners of war in Germany up until 30th March 1945, you can now discover where and when they were captured and where they were held.

2. WW2 Roll of Honour records
The roll covers 349,000 people who died between 1st September 1939 and 31st December 1946, detailing those killed in action, those who died of wounds or diseases and those whose deaths were from natural causes. You can also find out where these events took place and if wounded, where they were sent.

These are important additions to the Ancestry catalogue but the WW2 Roll is incomplete and should be used in conjunction with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

To find out more, search the Ancestry catalogues or Get in touch with us if you'd like Army Ancestry Ltd to search for you.

The Hulton-Deutsch photo above shows British Prisoners of War being liberated by soldiers of the 9th Army at a PoW camp in Brunswick, Germany in 1945.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Updates - week ending 22nd August 2009

I was looking at the Dix Noonan website earlier in the week and noticed that the company offers a FREE facility to search various medal rolls.

The rolls on offer are:

Military General Service 1793-1814
Naval General Service 1793-1840
Army of India 1799-1826
Indian Mutiny 1857-1859

Click HERE to search the Dix Noonan medal rolls.

If the campaigns above do not cover your own ancestor's military service, don't despair. We have a number of Victorian medal rolls in our archive (including the Indian Mutiny roll above) and we can conduct searches of others held at the National Archives. Get in touch with your details.

More enquiries this week regarding First World War and Boer War veterans. There have also been enquiries regarding men who were serving after 1921. Whilst we can certainly assist with campaigns up to 1920, there is a limit to how much assistance we'll be able to provide after this date. Service records beyond this date are not currently in the public domain and your best bet - if you're a relative - will be to contact the Ministry of Defence. See our Post 1920 page for details.

We've added a British Military Bookshop link to this blog (see left) and will repeat this on the main Army Ancestry site. We also feature the Naval & Military Press which, in our opinion, offers the widest range of military history titles including many fabulous reference works which will be must-haves for serious enthusiasts and collectors alike. N&M Press is currently having a sale of stock which means that there is 20 per cent off ALL titles. Grab yourself a bargain!

Saturday 15 August 2009

Updates - week ending Saturday 15th August 2009

More enquiries this week from Ireland, Australia and of course, the UK; the majority of these concerning First World War soldiers.

It's a frustrating fact of WW1 research that service records for the majority of Great War Other Ranks were destroyed in a bombing raid by Hitler's Luftwaffe in 1940. Those that weren't destroyed by fire were often badly damaged by water from the firemen's hoses. These documents, collectively known as the Burnt Documents, are archived in the WO 363 series at The National Archives. A second series of (undamaged) pension records exists in WO 364 and there are also First World War records in various PIN series. PIN 26 is for men wounded and receiving a pension, PIN 71 is men invalided to pension and PIN 82 is the series for men who died as a result of war service and whose widows subsequently claimed a pension. If your WW1 ancestor was an officer, you stand a good chance of finding him in WO 374 and WO 339.

But if your ancestor's service record has been destroyed, DON'T DESPAIR! It's likely that we can still glean some information about when he joined up and possibly when he was discharged and where he would have served.

First World War medal index cards exist for men who were awarded medals or a silver war badge and we'll check any army service numbers against our extensive database of British Army numbers which extends from 1881 through to 1918. This, as far as we are aware, is a unique and invaluable reference resource which can provide vital clues about your ancestor's service.

Medal index cards refer to the actual medal rolls and if you don't know the battalion in which your ancestor served, these are certainly worth checking. Similarly, the Silver War Badge medal rolls will often give the date and place of birth of the recipient.

Armed with information from the medal index card, the medal rolls and our army service numbers database, we can then think about checking the war diaries. It's unlikely that your relative will be mentioned by name (unless he's an officer or - as an outside chance - a senior NCO) but the diaries are still worth checking. Some battalions buck the trend and mention Other Ranks by name, and in our experience you're more likely to find the name of your ancestor in the early pages of a war diary than for those written later in the war.

So, DON'T GIVE UP! We'll always advise you on our recommended approach and we'll access the relevant files for you. Drop us a line via our GET IN TOUCH page or leave a comment on any of these update posts.

The soldier pictured at the top of this post is Charles Sabourin of the East Surrey Regiment. Charles is a good example of a man with a badly damaged service record in WO 363 (see above) and also an Other Rank who is mentioned by name in the 1st East Surrey war diary. Charles, wounded on 23rd August 1914, is one of several men noted in the war diary as being missing in action. In fact he had been captured by the Germans and, minus his right leg, would be repatriated to England in February 1915. You can read more about Charles Sabourin on the Chailey 1914-1918 website.

Monday 10 August 2009

Updates - week ending Saturday 8th August 2009

It's been another busy week with enquiries covering men whose service spanned the years 1880 to 1918 and who served with the Militia, the Volunteers, the Territorial Force and the regular army, both pre and post Cardwell reforms. We've also supplied information on a couple of Royal Navy men - service records plus details of the ships, with photographs, on which they served.

Talking of Cardwell, there's a good chapter in Edward M Spiers's book, The Late Victorian Army 1868-1902 and it's available to read on line via Google books. HERE'S THE LINK.

Enquiries this week have come from throughout the UK and overseas. We always aim to respond to enquiries within 48 hours and, when given the go-ahead, to complete the work within two weeks - and usually a good deal sooner than that. We'll also always give you an outline quote so that you know exactly how much you're going to be spending.

I used the photograph above on one of my WW1 Remembrance posts. It shows the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, under construction in 1930. Two years later it would be unveiled, it's vast columns recording the names of over 72,000 men who died on the Somme battlefields and have no known grave. The photograph appears on the Australians on the Western Front 1914-1918 website.

If you'd like to find out more about your military ancestor, don't be shy; do drop us a line. We look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Updates - week ending Saturday 1st August 2009

A flood of enquiries this week, but first an appeal to DAVE BIRD, enquiring about your relative killed in action at Ypres. Dave, please re-submit your enquiry as your e-mail address was incomplete.

Queries into the Army Ancestry mailbox this week have mostly been WW1 related, although we have some potentially interesting Boer war era work and we are also checking the availability of surviving (and publicly accessible) documents relating to a WW2 Lt Colonel killed in action with an Indian regiment in 1941.

Enquiries this week have come from Australia, Canada, Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

The image on this post appears on the Hampstead Pals website and shows the Arras Memorial to the Missing. One of our projects this week was for a man whose name appears on the Arras War Memorial.

Army Ancestry - welcome

This is the section of the Army Ancestry website where I'll provide news about on-going Army Ancestry projects as well as general developments in army ancestry and military history research which I hope our clients and visitors will find helpful.

Get in touch with us either by visiting leaving a message here, on this Army Ancestry blog, or by filling out the form on the Get in Touch section of our website. You should always expect to hear from us within 48 hours. If you don't, it means that the e-mail address you've supplied is incorrect or incomplete, or that our response back to you has not been delivered. These things happen occasionally so re-submit your enquiry if you've fallen victim to e-mail gremlins.

Thanks for visiting.

Paul Nixon
Army Ancestry