29 March 2022

The British Army in the 1921 Census

Findmypast’s recent release of the 1921 Census of England & Wales provides an ideal opportunity for a quick sanity check on where the British Army was located in June 1921. With the singular exception of Scotland, the census returns for which are expected to be released later this year, if your British Army Ancestor was in uniform in June 1921, you should find him in the 1921 Census of England & Wales.  


As with the 1911 Census, the 1921 Census of England & Wales also enumerated men who were stationed overseas, and Findmypast provides some great detail about where you’ll find these men.


There are 35 separate volumes (‘pieces’ is the archival term) for the British Army overseas, 11 pieces for the Royal Navy and a single piece for the RAF. It is possible to search by piece number on the main 1921 Census search page and doing so will quickly enable you to filter out irrelevant results. Here are the piece numbers and locationd for the British Army overseas in June 1921:


28107: Mesopotamia

28108: Mesopotamia

28109: Hong Kong, China, Aden, South Africa, Singapore, Bermuda, troop ships at sea

28110: Constantinople

28111: Egypt, Sudan & Cyprus

28112: Egypt & Sudan

28113: Egypt & Sudan

28114: France & Flanders, Jamaica, Southampton Water

28115: Trinidad, Gibraltar, Mauritius, troop ship at sea, Poland, Sierra Leone

28116: India

28117: India

28118: India

28119: India

28120: India

28121: India

28122: India

28123: India

28124: India

28125: Ireland

28126: Ireland

28127: Ireland

28128: Ireland

28129: Ireland

28130: Ireland

28131: Ireland

28132: Ireland

28133: Ireland

28134: Malta

28135: Mesopotamia & Persian Gulf

28136: Mesopotamia

28137: Palestine

28138: Germany

28139: The British Upper Silesian Force

28140: Guernsey & Alderney

28141: Jersey


Be aware that regiment names may not always be spelled out on the actual pages which list soldier names. Instead, expect to find the words ‘Army’ or ‘Infantry’, ‘Cavalry’ etc. However, if you find the first page of the return, you will usually find that the officer making that return also includes the regiment name.

Remember too, that many men who had served during the First World War may still have been in uniform in 1921. Some would have been career soldiers who had joined the army before 1914 or during the war; others may have re-enlisted for limited periods of engagement after the war. It's worth checking the 1921 Census to see if your ancestor was still in uniform and, if he was, his service record will almost certainly still survive with the Ministry of Defence and can be ordered by clicking the link. Be aware though, that at the time of writing it is taking the MoD up to 12 months to fulfil requests.

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