Tracing Your World War One Ancestors

There are books available to borrow from libraries that provide details on how to research your ancestors in the First World War.

Many records can be found online and the following websites may be useful in starting your search. As this is just an introduction there may be other websites we have not listed that may also help you.

Service Records

National Archives
There is a wealth of information on the website from service records, diaries, cabinet papers, research guides and suggestions of where else to look. Service records have been deposited here, although some can be accessed through commercial sites online. Some records are incomplete due to bombing in the Second World War.

Looking for a person on the National Archives website

British Army Medal Index Cards 1914-1920

These were created towards the end of the First World War. They record the medals that men and women who served in the First World War were entitled to claim. Useful for discovering service numbers if not known.

Family History websites

The following sites have useful data bases to search. Viewing is by subscription or pay as you go credits. New content is being added on a regular basis so it is worthwhile revisiting these websites over a period of time.

Has significant war content to search including WW1 Service and Pension records 1914-1920; Medal Rolls Index Cards; UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919; UK, Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 and more. Library members can access this resource at any Telford & Wrekin library for free.

Find my Past
Many databases to search including various Casualty Rolls and Rolls of Honour; Royal Air Force Muster Roll for April 1918 which gives service numbers; British Royal Navy and Marine Service records 1899-1919 and more. This is a subscription site but the indexes can be searched for free.

Forces War Records
A subscribed website with specific military records from many theatres of war.

General Military Websites

The Long, Long Trail British Army in the Great War
A site all about the soldiers, units, regiments and battles of the British Army of the First World War.

The Western Front Association
Established in 1980 The Western Front Association (WFA) was formed with the aim of furthering interest in The Great War of 1914-1918.

The Great War
Provides an overview of the battlefields and on the Western Front detailing where they are and what you can see today. Also has a good overall introduction to searching for relatives.

Cymru 1914
Access to primary sources including diary entries, newspapers and images relating to Wales.

War Memorials

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Commission holds a register of the death of every member of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Merchant Navy) and Civilians from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa who died in the Great War. ‘The Debt of Honour Register’ lists casualties along with when they died and where they are buried.

Military Cemeteries and Memorials around the World
A guide to cemeteries and memorials around the world.

Roll of Honour website
Rolls of honour were published lists of deceased and produced by various groups including local councils, companies, chapels and other groups. Some are online and this site is dedicated to listing those who fell fighting for their country. Listed by regiment and war memorial.

Imperial War Museum War Memorials Archive
Searchable database of war memorials located throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Service Museums

The Army Museums Ogilby Trust
Lists regimental and corps museums of the British Army and can be searched by collection, regiment or region.

Imperial War Museum
For all services but does not hold personal service records but their collections reflect on people from all walks of life and have material that sheds light on wartime experiences.

National Army Museum
Holds a wealth of information on the history and traditions of the Army but is not a repository for service records. Has useful research information downloads.

Air of Authority
A private website about the history of the RAF organisation including station histories, lists of personnel  and large bibliography.

Royal Naval Museum
Service records for naval officers, ratings and Royal Marines as well as men of the merchant navy are on the National Archives website but other sites provide background information.

World War 1 commemorative websites

The Imperial War Museum
is leading the First World War Centenary Partnership and lists cultural events and activities.

This British Library resource brings together some of their collection items and other material from institutions across Europe; looks at a wide range of themes including propaganda, life as a solder, historical debates and so much more.

Local Information

Shropshire War Memorials
Research that aims to create a Shropshire Roll of Honour book and includes indexing and photographed Shrewsbury Journal and Wellington News for both wars and photographs of every war grave in the county.

The Wrekin District Roll of Honour is available to view at the Community History Centre, Wellington and the main libraries.

Shropshire Regimental Museum
Details of regimental history, collections held and although they don’t hold service records can help with military and family research. The records are held at Shropshire Archives on behalf of the museum and refer to the regiment rather than individuals. The Archive catalogue can be searched online for entries.

Telford WW1
Visit our blog to follow the latest commemorations of WW1 in and around the Telford area.

Local newspapers

An important source of information featuring local men and women including local events. The Wellington Journal is on microfiche at the Community History Centre, Wellington and the Shrewsbury Chronicle is at Shropshire Archives.

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