Friday 29 August 2014

Who served, when and where?

Military ancestors

Today I attended the fourth workshop this month provided by the Noosa Library Service for National Family History Month.
Bob, the volunteer genealogy expert ably assisted by the heritage librarian Jane, once again provided an excellent session, this time on finding one's military ancestors.

He addressed why one would expect to find some military among one's forbears, likely sources of information and then introduced the group to a wide range of sources.

How do you find out if you had military ancestors? Perhaps there are mementos, medals, family stories, photos or information on certificates and in newspapers.
Such a comprehensive topic cannot be summarised in a single post but listed below are some sources mentioned in today's session and some ideas for research.

Types of military records that exist

  • lists of officers and enlisted men and naval ratings
  • Regular service records and militia records
  • pension records
  • various published lists - such as the annual Army Lists 
  • Medal rolls
  • promotions and awards citations in gazettes: such as London, Belfast and Edinburgh Gazettes all free online
  • honour rolls
  • books - early records of battles and campaigns
  • casualty lists, missing and wounded
  • Muster lists
  • Attestation papers 
  • Biographical records eg naval biographical dictionary, specialist books on individual campaigns or battles
  • POWs of WWI Red Cross records now freely available 
  • regiment and unit histories 
  • Australian War Memorial digitised collections 
  • Courts martial

Records that are available

  • Pension records: exclusion period for service and pension records in Britain - 70 years
  • Not all records mentioned above have survived  - WW1 and other casualties (Britain)
  • Increased digitisation, some may be available only by application/request
  • Some may be available but are not indexed
  • Officers records may be more difficult to obtain

Location of Records

After learning so much in this session I was delighted this afternoon to be notified that I had won a 12 month subscription to Ancestry through their sponsorship of National Family History Month. All in all it has been a good month for learning and now I have a wonderful opportunity to further my research.

Other useful lists and blogs

Military Records guide - State Library of South Australia
Military medals - Shauna Hicks
Australian Colonial Forces State Library of Victoria
Australian Light Horse Research  - covers 1899 -1920
Find a soldier's will British Armed Forces 1850 - 1986

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