How do I found out were my Great-Grandfather served?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Anothermedalwonderer, Jan 15, 2007.

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  1. Hi, I've been a lurker here for quite a while. I'm not in the armed forces and nor is/was any living member of my family. Not out of choice, sadly, but never mind.

    Which brings me to the topic at hand. How would I find out were my Great-Grandfather served during the first world war? I have his medals, which tell me his rank, serial number and regiment (Liverpool Regiment), and I've looked at his medal card index online. However, the only new information I've been able to garner from that is the date he first went into France (September 1915).
    Like a lot of people of his generation, he apparently did not talk about the war much. Much of what he did say was to my Grandfather, who has also since passed on.
    I remember hearing by Grandad talk about how he had fought at the Battle of the Somme once though.
    I also recall reading how the new volounteer's who signed up in 'Kitchener's Army' were often alocated a role according to their civilian profession. My Great-Grandad was an electrician by trade before the war, so I'm wondering whether he might have been in some sort of precursor to REME.

    I apologise if that was all a bit long-winded, but I was wondering if anyone here would be able to help. I'm not completely unread on the History of the British Military and the way it was structured, but I figured there would be some people here who were know more than I do, especially with an insider knowledge about how the British Army works/keeps records etc.

    Thanks for your time...
  2. Just a thought, are you and the other medalwonderer from Wolverhampton by any chance?
  3. Anothermedalwonderer, welcome to Arrse.

    I presume there is a national "inventory" of people who served in WW1 somewhere. A national archive perhaps?

    If not, find out what and why he earned the medals that he has. This should give you a good understanding of what kind of campaigns he was involved in, then hopefully where he served.

    If you know what regiment he was in , it should not be too hard to find where his unit was posted during that particular period.

    Good luck.
  4. You have name and number, and know he was Liverpool Regiment, so if you Google 'Liverpool Regiment' you'll turn-up plenty of info incuding their museum at, which is usually a very good stop to find out what was being done and where.

  5. If you have his medal card and you know he is Kings Liverpool Regiment you really need to find the Battalion he was in.

    Once you know his battalion you can find out a lot about where he served, what they did, who he served with and where the people he knew are buried.

    I'd look at the 13th Service Battalion. If he went to France as part of a new Kitchener Battalion, then the only battalions of the Kings Liverpool that went to France in September were the 13th Battalion (Part of the 25th Division and then 3rd Division) and the 14th Battalion (Part of the 22nd Divison). The latter did not stay in France but was sent to Salonika in the Balkans.

    He may have been an individual replacement for any of the Kings Liverpool units.

    Some units provided commeoratve plaques and phiotos, so check your family for this sort of information.

    National Archive may have the war diaries. If they have, you can download copies of the daily diary. These often include trench maps and sketches of raids etc.

    If you would like to visit where he served or visit any memorials or graves to people hye served with contact us at Remembrance Travel, the travel arm of the Royal British Legion.

    PS even though he was an electrician, he wouldn't have been in the equivalent of the REME, the ASC. Lots of skilled men joined Kitcheners Army as infantrymen. Relatively few seem to have been stransferred to posts that made use of their civilian skills.
  6. Which Bn of the Kings, that may answer a number of your questions.

    You may not get the answers your after and very proportion of the WW1 service records were destroyed in WW2
  7. Thanks for the replies everyone. Yes, I did forget to mention that I was trying to find out which battalion he served with. It's a bit of a pain because I discovered the King's had about 20 different Battalions during the First World War, and no way of knowing which one he served in. (I don't know why they don't include info like this on medal cards).
    Another thing I forgot to mention, which made me suspect that he might have been had his specialist skills taken into consideration is that fact that despite the fact he was born and bred in Oldham, and never had anything to do with Liverpool before then in his life, he was put into the King's Liverpool Regiment, rather than in a pals battalion like the Oldham Pals in the 24th Manchester Regiment, or the Lancashire Fusiliers.

    Thanks. There is a national archive, and his medal card is on it. As RBL_Travel and polar have said, I need to know which battalion he was in first. His medals are just the standard 1914-15 star, War Medal and Victory Medal, so there won't be any citations or anything I'm afraid.
    The 13th Service Battalion looks like a promising lead. Is there any way of looking up the names of who served in that battalion during that time?

    Don't know about the other chap, but I'm from Lancashire....
  8. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    I was going to suggest visiting the Commonwealth War Graves Commisssion website at, but having put in a search (link is right in front of you on the home page) I didn't get back enough info to expand what you already have.

    However, if you do get any more information, CWGC might be able to expand it further.

    Good luck.
  9. He wasn't killed during the war. He survived (without a scratch on him apparently) and died in 1971.

    The fact that he was never even wounded in 3.5 years of fighting makes it appear even less likely to me that he was a front line soldier. Especially if he apparently was involved at something as horrific as the Somme....
  10. IIRC, W0363 at Kew holds the so-called "Burnt Records" which are the records of service for soldiers from the Great War. They were damaged by enemy action in WW2. The surviving documents were microfilmed and are available at the National Archives.

    I suggest you go to their site and run his regimental number through their search engine. I don't think the images are on-line; you have to go to Kew.

  11. His army number is also clue, if his number is in one of these ranges then he's a territorial if not then hw wasn't (3rd column is bn)

    200001 240000 5 King's Liverpool Regt West Lancs
    240001 265000 6 King's Liverpool Regt West Lancs
    265001 305000 7 King's Liverpool Regt West Lancs
    305001 330000 8 King's Liverpool Regt West Lancs
    330001 355000 9 King's Liverpool Regt West Lancs
    355001 380000 10 King's Liverpool Regt West Lancs
    380001 405000 25 King's Liverpool Regt West Lancs
    405001 430000 26 King's Liverpool Regt West Lancs

    See also Territorial Numbers 1917

    Kings Regt ww1
  12. I'd like to find out where my Grandfather fought in WW1.

    All I know is that he was taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war in Wales.
  13. There may be several reasons why he didn't join the "Pals Battalions" of the Manchesters or the Lancashire Fusiliers.

    - He may have been too young. Several underage soldiers joined up in the next town after being told to clear off from all the local recruiting offices.

    - He may have been put off by the pals. The city pals battalions could be quite snobbish and might not take someone from an area or trade that they thought was too common for their battalion!

    - The battalion might have been full when he joined up.

    You might also try the Western Front Association who hold the original card index files that have been scanned into the national Archive. There may be some additional information on the BACK of his medal card, which will not have been scanned in by the National Archive. About 10% of cards have something written on the back.

    What is his regimental number and name BTW?
  14. RBL, I've sent you a PM about my great-grandad's name and number. I'd like to thank everyone for the links and advice. Any more advice would also be welcome as I need all the help I can get.
    Polar, my G-G's number starts with 19. I would put the full number and name here, but I don't want to break any rules regarding confidentiality. I will also send you the full number and any other details I have available if you request it.
    I might need some more help later tracing another Great-Grandad who also joined up, who joined up underage (possibly under a fake name) because of a falling out with his dad and ended up in the RFC, but I'll leave that till later....
  15. Well at least its ruled out around 50% of the Kings Battalions. The ones 1/5th 2/10th etc are all Territorials