At The National Archives we are busy planning our programme of activities to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in 2014.
With our unique and extensive collection of First World War records, from the official unit war diaries to medal cards and records of the men and women who served, we hold an invaluable resource for genealogists, historians, scholars and anyone interested in researching the history of this conflict or the people involved.
In this blog series, we will follow a group of volunteers from our staff as they embark on a voyage of discovery to trace their First World War ancestors using records held by The National Archives. At regular intervals over the next two years, each will write a blog to explain what records they have consulted, what they found about their ancestor and how they intend to continue their research in this and other archives. They will also share hints and tips to help others conduct their own research.
We hope you will come with us on the journey to discover our ancestors. With the approaching centenary, at no time has it been more fitting to discover the people behind those old photographs and medals.
As the person overseeing this series, I thought it only fair to be the first to post. Read on to see what I found out about my Tommy…
I joined The National Archives in July this year and am a keen (but very amateur) family historian. I am by no means a military historian so excuse me if I get any Army terminology wrong in what I reveal about my ancestor.
For many years I was frustrated as trying to find any ancestors involved in the First World War led me down a dead end. That all changed recently when, following the sad death of the last relative of my grandparents’ generation, I was handed a carrier bag that had been destined for the tip!
Inside was a treasure trove of photographs, birth certificates, death cards and all manner of trinkets dating back as far as the mid-1800s. I was able to put faces to names on census records but even more exciting for me were the photographs of a host of men in uniform.
Here is just one of them: