Monday 31 October 2016

The Infantry: British Army Service Records 1760-1920

Unidentified troops aboard SS Malta, 1890s

I thought it might be a good idea to post links to regimental service records. Findmypast has by the most comprehensive collection of service and pension records currently, and all the links below will take to you to search results on Findmypast (although you will need a subscription or pay per view voucher to actually view the records).

I use the term "service record" lightly. The records below are all housed in WO series at the National Archives and include pension and service records - or in the case of officers' service records from the First World War (165,000 of them) - links to file information held at The National Archives.

Regiments below are organised in order of regimental precedence. (Just use the "Control F" to find the regiment you are looking for). Record counts, below, have been rounded down to the nearest thousand.

The Foot Guards

Grenadier Guards - 37,000 service records
Coldstream Guards - 32,000 service records
Scots Guards -  24,000 service records
Irish Guards - 7,000 service records
Welsh Guards - 3,000 service records

The Regular Infantry

Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) - 28,000 First World War service records
Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) - 11,000 pre-First World War service records
Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) - 33,000 service records
The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) - 50,000 service records
King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) - 33,000 service records
Northumberland Fusiliers - 48,000 service records
Royal Warwickshire Regiment - 50,000 service records
Royal Fusiliers - 55,000 service records
King's (Liverpool Regiment) - 67,000 service records
Norfolk Regiment - 33,000 service records
Lincolnshire Regiment - 42,000 service records
Devonshire Regiment - 35,000 service records
Suffolk Regiment - 36,000 service records
Somerset Light Infantry - 20,000 service records
West Yorkshire Regiment - 64,000 service records
East Yorkshire Regiment - 35,000 service records
Bedfordshire Regiment - 35,000 service records
Leicestershire Regiment - 45,000 service records
Royal Irish Regiment - 19,000 service records
Yorkshire Regiment - 8,000 First World War records
Yorkshire Regiment - 28,000 pre-First World War records*
Lancashire Fusiliers - 48,000 service records

Pipe Major, Royal Scots Fusiliers

Royal Scots Fusiliers - 33,000 service records
Cheshire Regiment - 62,000 service records
Royal Welsh Fusiliers - 49,000 service records
South Wales Borderers - 28,000 service records
Kings Own Scottish Borderers - 29,000 service records
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) - 28,000 service records
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers - 21,000 service records
Gloucestershire Regiment - 38,000 service records
Worcestershire Regiment - 43,000 service records
East Lancashire Regiment - 39,000 service records
East Surrey Regiment - 37,000 service records
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry - 23,000 service records
Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) - 59,000 service records
Border Regiment - 32,000 service records

Royal Sussex Regt, circa 1902-1905

Royal Sussex Regiment - 32,000 service records
Hampshire Regiment - 33,000 service records
South Staffordshire Regiment - 40,000 service records
Dorsetshire Regiment - 28,000 service records
South Lancashire Regiment - 40,000 service records
Welsh Regiment - 43,000 service records
Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) - 28,000 service records
Ox & Bucks Light Infantry - 32,000 service records
Essex Regiment - 47,000 service records
Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment) - 43,000 service records
Loyal North Lancashire Regiment - 44,000 service records
Northamptonshire Regiment - 34,000 service records
Royal Berkshire Regiment - 27,000 service records
Royal West Kent Regiment - 43,000 service records
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry - 37,000 service records
King's Shropshire Light Infantry - 27,000 service records

Middlesex Regt c1902-1913

Middlesex Regiment - 74,000 service records
King's Royal Rifle Corps - 68,000 service records
Wiltshire Regiment - 18,000 service records
Manchester Regiment - 70,000 service records
North Staffordshire Regiment - 34,000 service records
York and Lancaster Regiment - 73,000 service records
Durham Light Infantry - 86,000 service records
Highland Light Infantry - 39,000 service records
Seaforth Highlanders - 26,000 service records
Gordon Highlanders - 30,000 service records
Cameron Highlanders - 30,000 service records
Royal Irish Rifles - 27,000 service records
Royal Irish Fusiliers - 26,000 service records
Connaught Rangers - 19,000 service records
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders - 40,000 records
Leinster Regiment - 10,000 service records
Royal Munster Fusiliers - 13,000 service records
Royal Dublin Fusiliers - 24,000 service records
Rifle Brigade - 70,000 service records

*This link also returns records for the East Yorkshire Regt and West Yorkshire Regt

6th London Regt, Watford 1915

The Territorial Force Infantry

Honourable Artillery Company - 6,000 service records
Monmouthshire Regiment - 8,000 service records
Cambridgeshire Regiment - 3,000 service records
London Regiment - 140,000 service records
Hertfordshire Regiment - 4,000 service records
Northern Cyclist Battalion*  
Highland Cyclist Battalion * 
Kent Cyclist Battalion
Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion*  

* Less than 300 service records across all four cyclist battalions

I research soldiers! 

Thursday 27 October 2016

First World War ancestors in the news

I'm publishing a list of newspapers (below) which cover the period 1914-1918 and which are available to search online.

I have long been a fan of the British Newspaper Archive. Military service records, where these survive, are all well and good, but actually how much of the actual service do you ever glean from looking at a service record? There is a tendency amongst historians to hold up service records as the ultimate archival treasure, and whilst I would argue that these are essential to our understanding of where and when a man served, unless correspondence survives in the file, they are unlikely to actually tell us anything about what he went through. Neither do the service records put a man's service into the context of the time.  Step forward then, the British Newspaper Archive.

There are riches to be found in this archive of 15.9m pages - and counting.  This blog post deals only with the First World War, but what follows also holds true for other conflicts both before and since - and remember that the archive covers the period from 1710 right up until the end of the last century. That's nearly 300 years at your fingertips.

As far as the First World War is concerned, you'll find casualty details (men reported as wounded, prisoners of war and missing as well as those killed in action), and also mini obituaries - sometimes with photos - of men.

Take the example of 17166 Corporal Harold Meadowcroft whose obiturary in the Manchester Evening News includes a photo plus details which simply would not appear in a service record. Harold was an original member of the 20th Manchester Regiment or 5th City Battalion; an original Manchester Pal. He appears in the photo below, proudly taking his place in No 3 platoon of A Company.

No service record survives for Harold but even if it did, it would not have mentioned that he was an amateur footballer or that he been shot by a sniper. The newspapers add the meat to the bones and are still, in my opinion, a much under-used and possibly under-valued resource.  Anyway, enough of the waffle. Here's a current list of all those newspapers on the British Newspaper Archive site which cover the period 1914-1918, Unless otherwise noted, all five years are covered. Papers know to have published portraits of soldiers are also noted.

The links below will take you directly to the paper concerned - but you'll ned to pay for access to view the reports.

Aberdeen Evening Express [soldier portraits]
Aberdeen Journal
Aberdeen Weekly Journal
Aldershot Military Gazette [1918]
Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs
Ballymena Observer
Banbury Advertiser
Banbury Guardian
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette
Bedfordshire Times and Independent
Belfast Weekly News [1914]
Bellshill Speaker
Belper News
Berwick Advertiser [1915-1917]
Berwickshire News and General Advertiser
Beverley and East Riding Recorder [1914-1916]
Bexhill-on-Sea Observer
Biggleswade Chronicle
Birmingham Daily Gazette
Birmingham Daily Post
Birmingham Mail
Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press
Bucks Herald
Burnley Express
Burnley Gazette [1914]
Burnley News
Burton Daily Mail [1915-1917]
Bury Free Press
Cambridge Daily News [1917-1918]
Cambridge Independent Press
Chelmsford Chronicle
Chelsea News and General Advertiser
Cheltenham Chronicle
Cheltenham Looker-On
Cheshire Observer
Chester Chronicle
Cornish Telegraph [1914-1915]
Coventry Evening Telegraph
Coventry Herald [1915-1916]
Coventry Standard
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough
Daily Herald
Daily Mirror
Daily Record
Derby Daily Telegraph
Derbyshire Advertiser and Ashbourne, Uttoxeter & North Staffordshire Journal [1914-1916, 1918]
Derbyshire Courier
Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald [1914-1917]
Derry Journal
Diss Express
Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser
Dover Express
Driffield Times
Dublin Daily Express [1914-1917]
Dumfries and Galloway Standard
Dundalk Examiner and Louth Advertiser [1914-1915]
Dundee Courier
Dundee Evening Telegraph
Dundee, Perth, Forfar, and Fife's People's Journal
Edinburgh Evening News
Essex Newsman
Evening Despatch
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette
Falkirk Herald
Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian
Fifeshire Advertiser
Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald
Framlingham Weekly News
Gloucester Citizen
Gloucester Journal
Gloucestershire Chronicle
Gloucestershire Echo
Grantham Journal
Hamilton Advertiser
Harrogate Herald [1915 & 1917]
Hartland and West Country Chronicle
Hastings and St Leonards Observer
Hawick News and Border Chronicle
Hendon & Finchley Times
Hertford Mercury and Reformer [1916-1918]
Huddersfield Daily Examiner
Hull Daily Mail
Jarrow Express
Kent & Sussex Courier
Kirkintilloch Gazette
Kirkintilloch Herald
Lancashire Evening Post [1916-1918]
Larne Times
Leamington Spa Courier
Leeds Mercury [1914, 1916]
Leicester Chronicle [1914-1915]
Lichfield Mercury
Lincolnshire Chronicle [1915-1918]
Lincolnshire Echo
Liverpool Daily Post
Liverpool Echo [soldier photos]
Liverpool Evening Express [1914]
Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle [1917-1918]
Luton Times and Advertiser [1914-1916]
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser [1914-1916]
Manchester Evening News [soldier photos]
Middlesex Chronicle
Monmouthshire Beacon
Morpeth Herald
Motherwell Times
Nantwich Guardian
Newcastle Evening Chronicle
Newcastle Journal
North Devon Journal
Northampton Mercury
Nottingham Evening Post
Perthshire Advertiser
Portsmouth Evening News [1914-1916]
Preston Herald
Reading Mercury
Rochdale Observer
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser
Sheffield Evening Telegraph
Sheffield Independent
Shepton Mallet Journal, City of Wells reporter and county advertiser
Shields Daily Gazette [1916]
Shoreditch Observer [1914-1915]
South Bucks Standard [1914]
Southern Reporter
Sporting Times [1914-1917]
Sports Argus
Staffordshire Advertiser
Stirling Observer
Sunday Mirror [1915-1918]
Sunday Post
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette
Surrey Advertiser
Surrey Mirror
Sussex Agricultural Express
Tamworth Herald
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser
The Era
The Scotsman
Thetford and Watton Times
Walsall Advertiser [1914-1915]
Walsall Observer, and South Staffordshire Chronicle
Warwick & Warwickshire Advertiser [1914-1917]
Weekly Freeman's Journal
Wells Journal
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser [1915-1916]
Western Chronicle
Western Daily Press
Western Gazette
Western Mail
Western Morning News
Western Times
Whitby Gazette
Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald
Yorkshire Evening Post [soldier portraits]
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer