Researching my grandad's military history

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by TStanb, Nov 6, 2012.

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  1. Hello,
    How easy/difficult will this be?
    He ran off and lied about his age in 1914, came home in 1918 and lived to age 93, dying in 1991.
    Unfortunately he does not appear in the county's War Role, so I'm a bit buggered as to where to make a start.
    Thanks in anticipation.
  2. Sorry guys. Only just spotted the sticky above. Will have a look here first.
  3. It depends on how common his name was, and whether he enlisted using it.

    Try the medal roles on the National Archive site. It'll put you through Ancestry and you'll have to pay a couple of quid for every entry you want. If his name was Smith or Jones you're buggered!
  4. Thanks. Only been a member for 5 minutes and I've already got more leads than I can handle. Cheers for now
  5. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh too late! You should be able to get on Ancestry for free via your public library.
  6. Not too late at all. Thanks for the heads up.

    B-t-w, so far I have discovered that that stupid National census carried out a few years ago already has his DoB down as wrong. Saints Alive! What a start!
  7. Did your grandfather have any medals for his service? If so, his name that he used when he joined and his Army service number would be engraved on them. That might lead to further info.
  8. Yep, I think they're somewhere in my dad's stuff. I'll find them and let you know!
  9. Wow. Quite a lot of stuff.......a cap and greatcoat with East Surrey buttons, badges, etc. Two medals from 1914-1918 with the all important number engraved on the rims. Some rather grim postcards, probably taken after the ceasefire and an aerial photograph of Cologne probably taken by him as it looks pretty amateur. A few photos of whom I presume were some of his pals, a photo of his platoon, his field razor and a cigarette case. I've also found a Beds and Herts lapel badge but this does not tally with anything else.
    My guess is that he went to the local (Beds&Herts) recruiting office, they told him to bugger off and come back in 2 years when he's old enough but he instead got on a train and went down immediately to East Surrey and enlisted there(?).
    Now that I know his regiment and number, what can I do with this information?
  10. Now that you have his Name, Number and Unit there's a couple of relatively easy steps to see if more information is available:
    1. Go to local library or resource centre, they normally have access to Ancestry which is (in my opinion) one of the best resources on the web, see if they have a copy of the service record for him.
    2. If you cant get to a library etc, take out a subscription to Ancestry, however, its probably only worth is if you are planning to do some serious family research.
    3. Either post the number, and unit on here and someone will look up the details for you, or PM anyone of the several blokes on here (me included) who already have the full Ancestry access and someone will do a look up for you to let you know if its worth going on.
    4. Once you either have his service record, or not as the case might be, a visit to Kew to have a rummage through the appropriate war Diary (once you have confirmed the unit/ sub unit) will give you a reasonable idea of what he was up to.

    hope this helps.
  11. Sympathetic_Reaction

    Sympathetic_Reaction LE Book Reviewer

    I'm looking to get my Ancestry subs back up and running soon, so happy to help if you have details.

    I find Ancestry is best paid for as a rolling monthly sub, which you then cancel each month, rather than paying for individual 'credits'. I save up lots of questions over a number of months from free soruces, then blitz it in Ancestry for a month (cancel the subs) and then repeat 3 months later.

    I've been impressed what I can find from limited starting data, if you have a lot to start with then it just makes it easier.

  12. I am up and running on Ancestry so PM what detail you have and I will see if I can get his medal card and service record.

    Service Number
    Date of Birth
    Regiment served in.

    Let me know and I will see what I can find.

    Same goes for anyone else, more than happy to look, pay the full sub so no worries and good to see what is turned up.
  13. Does it work the same for tracing Royal Navy service history? got my old man's medals & number and know he was on Mine-Sweepers & Corvettes.
  14. If you're the next-of-kin, or if you're on speaking terms with them, you can get your dad's service records from MoD. It's easy enough, I've already done it for the Begum's father and grandfather and am in the middle of sorting out one of her friend's dad's - thirty seven ops on Coastal Command Liberators then repatriation trips from the Middle East and India..
  15. In general the answer is "No", however all is not lost, assuming that what you are after is a record of someone who served prior to 1920, then you can do a search on the National Archives site and if the record exists (most if not all WW1 RN records are there I think) then you can download it for about £3.50. But, I suspect that you are after a WW2 record in which case you need to go down the route of applying for the records from the MoD.