Who were they?
To find the military record of a friend or relative there are a number of useful clues that will help our research team build up a picture. Once we know the details we can then place the man or woman in the wider context of where and when they fought and if they were killed in action where their name is recorded or where they are buried. We need:
The full name, rank and date of birth.
The Corps or Regiment in which they served - the greater the detail the easier it is to place where they served. So in the two World Wars a Corps like the Royal Artillery or Royal Engineers was massive – if the regiment or squadron within a Corps can be identified the search becomes a great deal simpler. In Infantry regiments battalions served in different theatres so the battalion number is useful.
For naval personnel the ship in which they served and so their career is a much easier subject to research and they same applies to air and ground crew in squadrons in the RFC and RAF.
The conflict and theatre in which they served – France 1914-1918 is a pretty big area to research - however it rules out other First World War theatres like Palestine, East Africa or Gallipoli
With this sort of information our team can go back to primary sources like log books and war diaries as well as Regimental, Corps and other museums. If the serviceman or woman was killed in action the Commonwealth War Graves register will give the site of the cemetery or memorial where the name is recorded. While ships' crews are normally recorded on memorials if the ship was lost at sea – for soldiers and airmen by tracing the unit or aircraft it can be possible to locate almost exactly the site where the serviceman or woman lost their lives.
To find this spot is both intensely moving for friends and relatives but can also be truly cathartic giving a family closure on a distant but still powerful part of their history.
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