A very active military records website and community in the UK is Forces War Records. It is run with the help of 70 UK staff including many from a military background or with a military history interest. They hold extensive military records going back to 1700 and are digitising over 200,000 new records every month. A great number of their military genealogy records are exclusive to them and at the present time we are able to offer a 40% discount on all their subscriptions by using the code AF40
There is an active War Records Forum with areas dedicated to Military General, Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines, Royal Air Force, WW1, WW2 etc. So if you’re struggling with finding a military ancestor make a post there and it’s likely you’ll get the help you need.
Remember to use your AF40 voucher code if you click on the following link
Hire a Military Genealogy Researcher
Searching for Ancestors that served in the armed forces or merchant navy can be a difficult task. It might be worth considering the hire of an expert military genealogist. Forces War Records have military genealogists partnering with them that have exceptional military history and archive knowledge. They list charging rates and will produce a clearly written report together with digitised copies of archive material. Here’s the link if you would like to take enlist their help: UK Military Genealogy Researchers
Ancestry hold extensive British military records from the Boer War 1899-1902, The Great War (WWI) 1914-1918 and WWII 1939-1945. Other military history information is available including the Waterloo Medal Roll 1815. Extensive information available for the First World War (WW1) and Second World War (WW2) including service records, pension records, medal rolls, casualties, army rolls, prisoners of war records and news reels from the 2nd World War.
Were any of your ancestors involved in the Boer War? Click here for some historical background on the conflict including the causes of the war, main events of the war and its conclusion.
Military Gallantry Medals and Awards
The best place to search for notices concerning Gallantry medals and awards is The Gazette. This is the newspaper of the state and it’s history goes back to 1665. It was previously known as the London Gazette. Today it is published by TSO on behalf of the National Archives. All Gallantry awards are published in the Gazette and if a relative received an award then you are likely to find the information. The search facility can be a little tricky sometimes and you may need to refine searches before your result appears. The facility is free and a great resource for anyone researching Military Genealogy. There are specific pages for the following:
All Awards and Accreditation notices (tick the include supplement box and refine by including an approx. publication date to reduce results)
Victoria Cross – The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration for valour and devotion to duty awarded to members of the armed forces in action. Just 633 Victoria Crosses were awarded to individuals from 1914 to 1918. The Gazette have tabulated this information in year order as follows:
We’ve randomly picked out one record as an example of the brave and selfless acts to be found. This notice was published in January 1917:
No. 7709 Pte. David Ross Lauder, R. Sc. Fus.
“For most conspicuous bravery when with a bombing party retaking a sap.
Pte. Lauder threw a bomb, which failed to clear the parapet and fell amongst the
Bombing party. There was no time to smother the bomb, and Pte. Lauder at once
put his foot on it, thereby localising the explosion. His foot was blown off, but the
remainder of the party through this act of sacrifice escaped unhurt.”
David Lauder died on 4th June 1972 in Glasgow Scotland. His Victoria Cross is now displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum.