Tag Archives: service records

Ancestry.co.uk marking Remembrance Week with three new databases

9 Nov

Not content with allowing free access to three of their WW1 collections (British Army WW1 Service Records, British Army WW1 Pension Records and British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards) up to Sunday 14th November 2010, they have also released three new collections for tracing military ancestors and relatives, however these are not free to view.

All three collections relate to medals and awards:

Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949

These records list more than 2.3 million soldiers who were granted medals and awards in non-WWI or WWII campaigns, between 1793 and 1949.

Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972

The Naval medal rolls list more than 1.5 million officers, enlisted personnel and other individuals who served in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines between 1793 and 1972. They cover a range of conflicts, including World War Two.

Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medals, 1914-1920

These records cover the Great War and feature almost 25,000 citations for recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) – Britain’s second highest military honour for non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.

Find out more about these collections and the other military resources at the Ancestry.co.uk British Military Collection page.

British Army Service Records 1760-1913 on Findmypast.co.uk

16 Mar

The first chunk of Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760 to 1913 have been released on Findmypast.co.uk today. The records released today are a small part of the whole collection, covering men discharged in the period between 1883 and 1900.

Findmypast.co.uk have provided some useful resources for understanding these records, which is just as well. Even the words "Chelsea Pensioners" are a bit misleading, they were not necessarily residents of The Royal Hospital at Chelsea, but received a pension that was administered by the hospital.

Like any database it is important to know what is and isn’t included, why would a soldier be in this collection? For example, according to the website it "doesn’t contain the records of soldiers who died in service or who took an early discharge because they didn’t receive a pension."

Having used these records in their paper form I can safely say that they are real goldmines of information, of course the contents do vary from soldier to soldier, but they contain detailed descriptions of soldiers along with relationship information (next of kin), not just details of their army service.

The records are not that different from the WW1 Service Records (1914-1920) previously released on Ancestry.co.uk, expect of course the condition and the fact that the vast majority have survived.

For my own research I know there will be several relations contained within this release, although I am in no rush to get their details yet. It is another database that I will need to check regularly as I go through my family history, like I already do with the WW1 Service Records. I am sure lots of previously unknown soldiers will turn up, filling in some gaps in my database.

Time never stands stills in genealogy

26 Jan

Whilst going through my files and getting everything up to date I turned my attention to the SUMMERFIELD family. The family connection is through another TROWER, this time it was Martha, who was sister of Mercy and Mary, who I have mentioned many times already.

It didn’t seem that long ago that I last did some research on James and Martha (although I see it was back in May 2008 that I visited Felbridge, Surrey in search of gravestones), but so much more information is available online now in such a short time, that my research has been left behind.

Starting with their marriage, although James was from Rusper, Sussex and Martha was from Henfield, Sussex the marriage took place in London (it looks like Martha must have been working up in London). Previously I only had the GRO BMD index reference for the marriage, but now of course the London Parish Registers are available on Ancestry.co.uk, including the entry for James and Martha.

The 1911 census has added even more information to their stories. In 1911 they were living in Newdigate, Surrey with their two children Sidney Ambrose (born 1894) and Raymond James (born 1907). The census also revealed that there had been another child who had died by the time of the census, so I have added the task of find him/her to my to-do list.

The eldest son Sidney Ambrose was killed during the First World War, although apparently not whilst on active service. Fortunately his service record survived and is now available on Ancestry.co.uk, although as you can see below it didn’t escape unscathed.

Burnt Documents

It is not going to be easy to pick out the details from these scraps of paper, but it is going onto my to-do list. Hopefully I can find out the details surrounding Sidney’s death.

There are still the updated GRO BMD indexes to search on Ancestry.co.uk, hopefully they will enable me to find descendants of the surviving son Raymond James (possibly even living descendants), another item for the to-do list.

I was surprised that so much more needs to be added to my family tree in such a short time, and it worries me what else needs updating. It also makes me think I need to establish some sort of regular review, either once each new database goes online or after a fixed period of time.

British Army WW1 Service Records now complete on Ancestry.co.uk

6 Nov

Yesterday Ancestry.co.uk announced the completion of the British Army WW1 Service Records. Records relating for surnames from A to N were previously available on the website, but now the collection is complete.

These records are known as the “burnt documents” because 60% of the original records were destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War. Previously they were only available to view on microfilm at the National Archives (series WO363).

The contents of each service record varies greatly, as does the legibility of some of the pages, many of which show clear signs of fire damage. According to Ancestry the service records “contain a variety of information concerning all aspects of the army careers of those who completed their duty or were either killed in action or executed, including the soldier’s name, date and place of birth, address, next-of-kin, former occupation, marital status, medical records, service history, regiment number, locations of service and discharge papers“.

It is not just military service information that you can find in these records, it was in the service record of William James GASSON that I first discovered that his father (and my 2x great-grandfather) George Thomas GASSON had been admitted to a lunatic asylum.

I had a quick look last night, and it looks like the only close relation is William Henry TROWER (my 1st cousin 3 times removed) and their doesn’t seem to be anything unusual contained within his documents. I am sure other relations will come to light once I carry out a more thorough search.

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