20 February 2014

Finding your army ancestor

This blog was started with the aim of helping researchers to identify likely enlistment dates for army ancestors who joined the British Army between 1881 and 1918.  However, it is worth pointing out that there are many online resources where original documents, or transcripts from original documents can be accessed for a few pounds. Finding your army ancestor online seems to become easier by the day.  Here are links to some of the best online resources:


1861 Worldwide Army Index
Can't find him on the 1861 census? Was he in the army? This index contains the names of over 245,000 British soldiers at home and abroad.

1871 Worldwide Army Index
An index of over 200,000 British Army officers and men stationed at home and abroad with additional notes on over 30,000 of these men.

Anglo-Boer War Roll 1899-1902
Over 300,000 men and a casualty list of over 60,000. The most comprehensive Boer War register on the web.

Army Deserters 1828-1840
An index of over 34,000 men. Details include name, age, regiment, date of desertion and trade.

British Army Service Records 1760-1913
There are over 2m records here, across six very distinct series:

Militia attestation records 1806-1915 (WO96)
Royal Hospital, Chelsea: British Army pension records 1760-1913 (WO97)
Royal Hospital, Chelsea: pensioners' discharge documents 1760-1887 (WO121)
Royal Hospital, Chelsea: pensioners' discharge documents, foreign regiments 1816-1817 (WO122)War Office: Imperial Yeomanry, soldiers' documents, South African War 1899-1902 (WO128)
Royal Hospital, Chelsea: documents of soldiers awarded deferred pensions 1838-1896 (WO131)

Click on the link above to access the complete collection and then filter by series.

British India Office Army & Navy Pensions 1749-1947
Released on Findmypast as part of its India Office Collection

Indian Mutiny Medal Roll 1857-1859
The names of over 56,000 medal recipients.


De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour 1914-1924
Biographies, many with photos, of over 26,000 WW1 casualties.

Honourable Artillery Company
Some pre-war records here but the majority are records for the First World War. Potted service histories, membership details, nominal rolls, draft lists and so on.

Pals Battalions
findmypast has published lists for the following Pals' Battalions: Birmingham Pals, Bradford Pals, Edinburgh Pals, Glasgow Pals, Liverpool Pals, Manchester Pals, Oldham Pals, Salford Pals, Swansea Pals

Royal Naval Division Service Records 1914-1920
These records are classified in the ADM series rather than WO as far as The National Archives is concerned. However, the men fought on land alongside the army during the First World War and so they are included here.

Silver War Badge rolls 1914-1920
Over 800,000 records giving date of enlistment, date of discharge, and often, the man's age.

Soldiers Died in The Great War 1914-1919
Incomplete but useful record of WW1 British Army deaths.

WW1 Medal Index Cards 1914-1920
The medal index cards of approximately 4.8m men.

WW1 Medal Rolls 1914-1920
Many medal rolls give battalion details and dates served overseas; information not usually found on the medal index cards. This is an essential resource.

WW1 Service Records 1914-1920
The so-called "Burnt Documents" from WO 363.

Pension records from WO 364.

British Army Service Records 1914-1920
This is Findmypast's combined collection of records in WO 363 and WO 364 which was released in 2014. Includes thousands of records not previously indexed. Also has the advantages of being able to search both series at the same time.


Royal Artillery Attestations 1883-1942
The majority of these records date to the inter-war years but there are earlier records including those of men who served during the Great War,
Don't let the dates fool you.  There are lots of records here for men who saw service during the First World War and for those, of course, who would go on to see service in the Second World War.

All of the above records are available on two commercial sites: Ancestry and Findmypast. Both sites offer FREE 14 day trials (click on the links to find out more) and both sites routinely offer promotions which can make military research extremely affordable.

And finally... I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Click on the link for more information.

17 February 2014

Glasgow Pals: number sequences and battalions

Following hot on the heels of the Liverpool Pals, here are some number blocks for the Glasgow Pals, more correctly: 15th (1st City) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Tramways), 16th (2nd City) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Boys' Brigade) and 17th (2nd City) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Commercials).  

Numbering in the Glasgow Pals battalions initially used the same number sequence that had been in use for the regular battalions and which, since August 1914, had also been used by the newly forming service battalions.  At some point, however, a decision was obviously taken to commence a new number series, from 1, and this series starts appearing in August 1914 and is also shared across all service battalions.

I will list the number series - as far as I can ascertain these, in the order in which these were issued. The date range for the following numbers is mid August to mid September 1914

13000 - 14100: 15th Battalion
14101 - 15199: 16th Battalion
15200 - 16299: 17th Battalion

The new number range starts appearing, in my Glasgow Pals' database at least, in early November 1914, with numbers in the 35** range being issued as late as May 1915

0965 - 1163: 15th Battalion
1364 - 1460: 16th Battalion
2684 - 2999: 17th Battalion
3100 - 3296: mostly 15th Battalion
3355 - 3574: mostly 16th Battalion

Both Ancestry and Findmypast have data collections covering the Glasgow Pals.

The image above is borrowed from the Glesga' Pals website and shows new recruits for the 16th Battalion parading in St George's Square, Glasgow in 1914.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

16 February 2014

Liverpool Pals: Number sequences and battalions

Here are some number blocks for the Liverpool Pals: more correctly, The 17th (1st City) King's (Liverpool Regiment), 18th (2nd City) King's (Liverpool Regiment), 19th (3rd City) King's (Liverpool Regiment) and 20th (4th City) King's (Liverpool Regiment).

15000 - 16151: 17th Battalion
16152 - 17259: 18th Battalion
17260 - 21899: 19th Battalion
21900 - 21999: a combination of 18th and 20th Battalion
22000 - 23149: 20th Battalion

These series may be considered to cover the initial intakes into the four City of Liverpool Pals' Battalions.  I am less certain of the battalions whose numbers fall into the following series:

23150 - 23599: non City Battalions
23600 - 23699: mostly 17th Battalion (but also men from the 15th, 16th and 18th Battalions)
23700 - 23800: various, including at least three men who died whilst serving with regular battalions
23801 - 24004: mostly 20th Battalion
24005 - 24199: non City Battalions
24200 - 24399: mostly 19th Battalion
24400 - 24499: mostly 20th Battalion
24500 - 24799: mostly 18th Battalion
24800 - 24999: mostly 17th Battalion
25000 - 25299: non City Battalions
25300 - 24349: mostly 19th Battalion
24350 - 25499: non City Battalions
25500 - 25599: mostly 19th Battalion
25600 - 25699: non City Battalions
25700 - 25799: mostly 18th Battalion
25800 - 25999: non City Battalions
26000 - 26099: mostly 18th Battalion
26100 - 26199: mostly 17th Battalion
26200 - 26499: non City Battalions
26500 - 26599: mostly 20th Battalion
26600 - 26699: mostly 17th & 18th Battalions

The majority of the City Battalion men whose numbers fall between and 15000 and 26199 arrived overseas in France on 7th November 1915.

Both Ancestry and Findmypast have data collections covering the King's (Liverpool Regiment) City Battalions, and here's a tip for finding men in Ancestry's poorly indexed WO 363 and WO 364 collections. After you've exhausted King's, Lpool and Liv* in the regiment field, just type in KLCB.  This is, of course, the acronym for King's Liverpool City Battalion and was scrawled across many an attestation paper in 1914 (and keyed-as-seen by Ancestry's transcription house many years later).

Also see my request for assistance with Liverpool Pals battalions HERE.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

10 February 2014

Liverpool Pals

For the most part, the number blocks allocated to the initial contingents of the first four battalions of the Liverpool Pals are well defined. However, there is a series of 100 numbers between 21900 and 21999 (where the number series proper for the 20th Bn / 4th Liverpool Pals begins) which leaps about a little and includes men from the 17th (1st Pals), 18th (2nd Pals) and 20th (4th Pals) Battalions.  
The list below shows number, rank (taken from medal index cards), forename and last name. I've copied this directly from my Liverpool Pals' database.  Numbers with no entry against them indicate that I could find no MIC.  Entries in bold indicate a surviving service record in WO 363 or WO 364 (all available on Ancestry). I would be grateful for assistance in filling in the gaps. 

21900PteArnold HenryWalker
21903PteCharles FNewman
18th Bn21904CplJohn CRoutledge
21909PteAlbert EdJones
18th Bn21910PteErnestPhillips
18th Bn21911PteAndrew CampbellWood
18th Bn21912PteThomas H Rosbotham
18th Bn21913PteJohnStockley
21917PteHerbert REdwards
18th Bn21918PteBenjamin ArthurJackson
21927PteJ HTaylor
18th Bn21928PteRobert ArmourBell
21929PteAlexander  Maude
21930PteJames WUnsworth
17th Bn
21932PteCyril Charles HollandAhier
21934PteBernard HSpice
21935PteArthur AngusMcLean
21936PteWilliam HMason
17th Bn
21937PteGeorge FrederickWright
21938PteGeorge HMills
17th Bn
20th Bn21940PteThomasAckerley
20th Bn21941PtePercyBraham
21943PteJohn CoryCarr
20th Bn21944PteEdwardCharnock
21945PteFred WCheesbrough
20th Bn21946PteJohn RDawson
21950PteLawrence A VFish
20th Bn21951A/CplAlfredGreenwood
17th Bn
17th Bn
21955PteFrank CHarrison
21957PteLeo FrancisHeyes
17th Bn
21959PteS TalbotJones
21960PteHerbert EJones
20th Bn21961PteJohnLitchfield
18th Bn21963PteFrederickMeek
21965PteFrederick C Morgan
17th Bn
21973PteSeymour GlynneWeston
20th Bn21975PteHarold Barker
17th Bn
21976PteMatthew FloodJackson
21980PteRichard NevilleSpong
21981SgtThomas Teare
21982PteWilliam RMears
21985SgtCharles EMaddox
18th Bn21986WalterLloyd
21988PteWilliam HNichols
18th Bn21989PteEdwardMorris
21990PteJoseph EdBlackmore
21992PteFrederick Downham
17th Bn
21994PteArthur  Biddles
17th Bn
17th Bn
21998PteFrederick IvanPulford
21999PteEdward GerrardAustin

The image on this post comes from The Liverpool Organic Brewery which, in turn, draws attention to the fund to pay for a permanent memorial to the Liverpool Pals.  Read more about this on the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund website.

Also see my post on Liverpool Pals battalions and number series.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

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