How to Research a Soldier who Served in the British Army in WW1
This page contains a number of articles to enable you to research soldiers who served during the First World War. If you are just starting out, I would recommend reading my guide to First World War Medals first, before moving on to my articles on finding First World War service records, using regimental histories, and local newspapers.
Start your Research with the Following Guides
- Using WW1 Medal Index Cards and Medal Rolls These two sets of documents are the best starting point into researching a World War One soldiers.
- WW1 Medals: A Guide to campaign medals awarded to British soldiers for service during the First World War.
- British Soldiers’ WW1 Service Records: A Guide to finding and viewing a soldier’s service record.
- British Officers’ WW1 Service Records: A Guide to finding and viewing an officers’ service record.
- British Army Abbreviations and Acronyms: A list of the most common abbreviations and acronyms found in WW1 Records.
- How to Interpret WW1 Photographs: Learn how a single photograph can help you unravel the service history of a soldier.
- Using WW1 War Diaries: How to find the correct war diary, what it is likely to contain and how to use it to further your research.
- Using the London Gazette: A key newspaper for researching World War One officers and soldiers who were awarded gallantry medals or honours.
- International Red Cross Prisoner of War Records: An excellent online resource available to view for free if you are looking for a prisoner of war.
Guides to British Cavalry and Yeomanry Regiments
- British Cavalry Regiments: Articles on British cavalry regiments which served in the First World War.
- British Yeomanry Regiments: Articles on British yeomanry regiments which served in the First World War.
If you are Researching a Casualty
- The Bond of Sacrifice: Useful if you’re researching an officer who died between August 1914 and June 1915.
- De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour: An important source which contains 25,000 biographies of casualties with over 7,000 portraits.
Add even more Information with these Guides
- Using Local Newspaper Reports in your Research: A case study looking at the death of Maxwell Frank.
- Using WW1 Regimental Histories: How regimental histories can help you with your research.
- Hart’s Army List: How to find and use these useful books when conducting research into an officer.
- WW1 Casualty Lists: These lists may be the only surviving evidence that your relative was wounded in the war.
- Absent Voters Lists: An underused resource which may hold the key to researching a soldier who served in a Corps of the British Army.
How the British Army was Structured
- Structure of the British Army in World War One: Learn the difference between a Battalion and a Brigade in my helpful guide.
- Structure of a British Infantry Battalion: A follow on to the article above.
- Why a Soldier is not with a Local Regiment: An article explaining why a man from Dorset could end up in a Highland Regiment.
- The WW1 Memorial Plaque: How the plaque was created, and an explanation of its symbolic design.
- The Silver War Badge: A guide explaining what a Silver War Badge is, where to find the records, and what information they contain.
- The Territorial Force Imperial Service Badge: Learn about this short-lived badge with identifies the wearer as a Territorial.
- Overseas Service Chevrons: Have a look at a soldier’s right sleeve, does he have small chevrons showing?
- WW1 Wound Stripes: Have a look at a soldier’s left sleeve to see if they are wearing a wound stripe.
Below are the medals issued to my great-great-grandfather Albert Bryant who served with the Army Veterinary Corps during the First World War. Both the box and the medals contained all the information I needed to start my research into his WW1 service. The medals are impressed with Albert’s service number, rank and unit: SE-26482. Private. Albert Bryant. Army Veterinary Corps.