Tracing ancestors, a users guide

florence

War Hero
I recently started doing mine and my husbands Family trees . Bugger all surprising in his but several surprises in mine . Started on Scotlands People and took it from there . The 1911 Census threw up a Great Aunt who had a child out of wedlock .
I know my Papa ( Mums Father ) came from a large family and legend had it that two older brothers went off to France in WW1 . Only one came home and subsequently went doolally and topped himself . Not so , both went to France, neither came back . One of the brothers was quite easy to trace but the other was a bit problematic . His surname spelling was changed somewhere down the line . I joined TNA and got both their medal records and burial information from TCWG.
The elder brother James has two Regt Numbers , one from the A&SH the other from the Seaforth Highlanders . He is buried in Terlincthun Cemetery Wimille in the Pas de Calais . The other Thomas is on the Menin Gate . Next year we're planning to take my Dad to Germany and on the way back visit both the Menin Gate and Terlincthun Cemetery .
We have WW1 medals ( Pip , Squeak & Wilfred ) for a cousin of my Gran ( Mums Mum ) problem is we know they're in the house but can't find the them . He survived the War and I remember visiting him and his sister when I was small .
Got the bug now and I'm planning to go back further if I can , these long winter nights are a Godsend
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
I have spent some time tracing my Grandfathers twin Brother, and now know roughly where he lies, however he had an older brother Born around 1881 who fought in the great war, however post war he left England and moved to Australia, we did have some family letter from him but the entire archive was discarded by a relative !!!!!!
I know that his great granddaughter came over from Oz in the 1970s and met my Grandmother
and I think that he would be eligible for an army pension in Australia
however I cant trace the old sod
I have tried several Australian government sites, but they seem to be split by state, and I dont have a clue which one he lived in, or died in
any ideas to assist me finding the family
one clue there may well be twins in the family
 
You obviously have your Grandfather's and twin's birth details. Use those to determine the brother's birth and location details (1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses). On Ancestry there is a section of already-made family trees, check that, you might fall lucky; also use it to go over passenger emigration lists.

Incidentally, for those with a relative who was a PoW in WW1, the Red Cross records are now on the net, free. I've used them to trace my Great Uncle Bill's camp.
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
You obviously have your Grandfather's and twin's birth details. Use those to determine the brother's birth and location details (1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses). On Ancestry there is a section of already-made family trees, check that, you might fall lucky; also use it to go over passenger emigration lists.

Incidentally, for those with a relative who was a PoW in WW1, the Red Cross records are now on the net, free. I've used them to trace my Great Uncle Bill's camp.
I hadnt thought of that. I presumed that being english it would not be recorded
will have a look see
 
I hadnt thought of that. I presumed that being english it would not be recorded
will have a look see
You can set the country your searching in. If you don't you'll be overrun with Septics. Try both the UK and Oz.
 

sirbhp

LE
Book Reviewer
Any tips on finding records of hospital or wounded files fow ww1 please ? I am looking for Dorsetshires shell shock victims 1916 0fficers and men.
Thanks troops . I got find my past and Ancestry .
 
@sirbhp

The Forces War Records website hold some medical records for WW1.

The National Archives have record packs for representative CCSs and hospitals, but sadly not many.

If you can borrow a copy of the Medical OH volume for the period you might get an idea of the scale of the problem but no real detail. Use for local library for an inter-library loan in the likely event they haven't got one themselves.

There are websites for some counties' auxiliary hospitals (eg Suffolk) but I can't guarantee shell-shock casualties are separated out

You've selected a difficult topic, good luck!.
 

GashHand

Old-Salt
I've been quite lucky researching into a relative of mine and his service in ww1. The Great War forum and some Faceache pages dedicated to the period were great too. One great 'find' recently, was when a friend of mine informed me that they had copies of unit/regimantal War Diaries for almost every unit on the Western Front. It detailed the attack in which my relative was killed.
That said, we still don't know what company he was in. Shame as we have every other bit of info on him.
 
What constitutes "Killed in Action" as opposed to "Missing, believed killed"?

I have an ancestor who was reported KIA but has no known grave. Does this infer that his body was identified by documents but circumstances prevented burial (e.g. during a retreat)? Or would it be sufficient for some one to say "He was stood there when a shell landed and blew him to bits"?

In the event that the former event occurred, presumably the advancing Germans would conduct burials close to where the bodies lay. Do the Germans hold records of such burials and, if so, is there access to the records?
 
At the first roll call after action a casualty known to have been killed (his body recovered or death seen by others) would be reported as KIA. Others would be rated as missing. Many of those would be accounted for sooner or later as stragglers, wounded or eventually as PoWs. The residue remained missing and are the names on the various memorials. They may have been buried in the front line and their graves lost before accurate location or, as above, blown to fragments by a shell. Many bodies were found later but were unidentifiable at the time (DNA would help now, as it did at Pheasant Wood), they ended up in un-named graves. It is perfectly possible to be commemorated on, say, the Tyne Cot memorial, and be buried in an unidentified grave in front of it.
 
So, in a retreat, it would be possible for somebody wounded to be declared as KIA as there wouldn't be a requirement to physically confirm death or identity as would be possible if the fighting was static.

This could then lead to the wounded soldier being entered into the German medical system where, if he subsequently died of wounds, he could be interred quite some distance from where he was wounded.

The reason why I'm being a bit pedantic is that if my ancestor died where he fell, I've got an idea to within 100 yards of where his remains will be, in which case it's then surprising (to me) that he doesn't have a recorded grave. The area was benign behind the British lines one day and benign behind the German lines the next so probably not a great deal of devastation until the British advanced some time later.

It was a case of unfortunate timing - his recce patrol ended up on the wrong side of an artillery barrage just as the Germans continued their advance after a short halt. It's not known whether he died trying to get back through the barrage or was killed by the German troops.
 
So, in a retreat, it would be possible for somebody wounded to be declared as KIA as there wouldn't be a requirement to physically confirm death or identity as would be possible if the fighting was static.

This could then lead to the wounded soldier being entered into the German medical system where, if he subsequently died of wounds, he could be interred quite some distance from where he was wounded.
He'd be declared as missing first, then KIA later if he didn't turn up.

The Krauts kept registers of PoWs at their various camps that were open to the Red Cross but notification of that fate might take months. If a soldier died of wounds in Kraut hands he would be buried in the nearest military cemetery - if he died just after he was taken then that could be close enough to the front line to be destroyed in subsequent fighting - he might even have died in those circumstances before his identity was recorded.

The only certainty for some of the missing came with the Armistice and repatriation of PoWs.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
Yes - likely so. I'm trying to find out the reason why a soldier went awol - eg if he explained why, this might help my researches into his family, if he mentioned them. And wondered if this would be recorded anywhere?
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
Yes - likely so. I'm trying to find out the reason why a soldier went awol - eg if he explained why, this might help my researches into his family, if he mentioned them. And wondered if this would be recorded anywhere?
It's difficult, I have two from WW2, my old man I have no idea but for an uncle I was able to piece together other information which wasn't in his Glasgow file
 
Might the Corps of Military Police or civilian Police have kept records? I presume that they would have been involved.
 
I have the details of his arrest (for an attempted break in while awol) and then his conviction for desertion at the local magistrates' court. But he pleaded guilty (bang to rights) and the case papers don't have any explanation. It may not have been asked for or given.

Could I ask "oldbaldy" what he meant by a "Glasgow" file. Is this just the service records that MOD supplied me with?
 

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