Researching a soldier of the First World War

Looking for help with a relative’s service in the First World War? Let me help and use my experience to cut through the dead ends, confusing jargon and frustration of First World War records. I am a regular visitor to the National Archives at Kew and regularly undertake work for clients who are looking to put ‘meat on the bones’ to granddad’s war story or often to clarify stories passed down from word of mouth.

What do I offer?

No research projects are ever the same. However, I will always provide a detailed search for:

  • Surviving service records
  • Medal Index Card and Medal Rolls
  • War diaries
  • Appropriate extracts from the ‘Official History’ of the war concerning the soldier’s particular unit.

For men who died I will also conduct a search of “Soldiers Died in the Great War” and provide a burial or commemoration record plus information on the appropriate CWGC cemetery or memorial.

Service records and war diaries can be confusing to the untrained eye. Rather than simply presenting you with the information I offer a full explanation of all findings, summarising the records. I also include relevant trench map extracts, overlays of trench maps onto modern mapping and a detailed search of my own archival collection gathered from seven years research in the Imperial War Museum and over twenty regimental museums around the country. I can, by agreement, also visit the Imperial War Museum or Liddle Archive in Leeds to search for diaries, letter and memoirs who served in your loved one’s wartime unit. Also included is a specially selected reading list for those who wish to find out more on a unit, regiment, division or battle.

Your report will be sent to you as an Adobe pdf file. You will also receive all relevant documents including war diaries and service records (if one still exists) on disc through the post. I advocate this method as it is the easiest was to disseminate the report to other family members. However, if you would prefer to receive a professionally printed and bound document then just let me know.

Latest Client testimonial – for more see my dedicated Testimonials page

Alan Tomlinson wrote: I thought I had gained as much information as was available regarding my ancestor Thomas Thompson until I found Jeremy.  The war diaries of his unit are a treasure to read but when he came up with his officers personal account of the time, and other avenues of research I can only say it pays to use a professional. It saddens me to read what these men went through especially when so many like Tom never made it home. Keep up the good work and thanks. Sapper Thomas Pearson Thompson DCM, 175 Tunnelling Company, RE.

Other research services

Many clients contact me having a good idea of their relative’s war service but seekng that next level. For instance, I am often told that ‘great uncle….was wounded on the Somme but we don’t know any more.’ This is where I can help. By careful study of war diaries, histories and books I can put together a history of a particular military action. Having co-authored books in assoctaion with the IWM covering the battles of the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele I am well versed in weaving sources together to provide a coherent narrative of operations. I will present my report as above utilising trench maps, modern mapping and overlays to enable you to stand at same the spot (or as close as farmers field allow!) that your relative did 95 years ago and follow their route in battle or during the more prevalent process of simply ‘holding the line’.

As well as researching individual soldiers I am happy to provide studies of particular units of the wartime British Army. I am happy to undertake many different research projects. Recent assigments have included searches in the IWM Department of Photographs for wartime and immediate postwar images of a military cemetery in Ploegsteert, Belgium and providing a full package detailing the war service of a Victoria Cross recipient from the South Lancashire Regiment and guiding a bespoke battlefield trip walking in his footsteps.

Please Contact me for further details of services I can provide and for an estimate – I would be delighted to help.